November 5, 2012
Often there are certain places or situations that create a barrier for a child with autism. Specific places, happenings or times can actually trigger difficult behaviors and reactions.
Recently, Mags was having a terrible problem when arriving at her tutor’s house. At some point in August, she had begun bolting out of her tutor’s basement office (which is in a private home, but has a separate entrance). She would run out of the basement and up into the house.
We tried to deter her with child door lock, which worked for a few times until Mags figured out how to get around it, so what to do? Time for a social story.
Social Stories TM is a trademarked term used first by autism specialist, Carol Grey in 1991. However, most folks use the term ‘social story’ in the same way we used terms like Kleenex and Xerox, to refer to a scripted literal story that can help an individual with autism or special needs overcome a problem behavior, serve as a guide to navigating social situations or to help learn a new task.
So I took a few pictures with my phone or found others easily online with Google Images. I used the pictures to make a presentation slideshow for Mags in GoogleDocs (for a nice example and how-to on making a social story in the presentation maker in GoogleDocs, check out this blog entry from Savvy Advocate Mom and More). GoogleDocs is an online-based software suite, very similar to Microsoft Office, that is FREE. With it you can create spreadsheets, word processing documents, slideshow presentations and more.
You can also create a social story on iPad with an app like Story Creator, which is also currently FREE. Story Creator allows you to use images from your Photo Album on iPad and insert them right into the story. Here is a great review and how-to of Story Creator from another one of my favorite blog sites: OTs with Apps.
How do you decide what the story should contain? My experience has been to make the story script as literal as possible. Here is the social story that I created for Mags who was struggling with an escape behavior at her tutoring sessions. We read it several times the night before her tutoring session. Her teacher and speech therapist also read it with her and school. When she arrived at tutoring…no problems! We were all amazed how well it had worked and helped to correct the escape behavior.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.