How to Stop Your Autistic Child From Freaking Out In New Situations

Social Stories Help Autistic Children Cope with Social Situations

Social Stories are a teaching tool that helps autistic children learn and develop social skills. They are designed to provide the child with precise information about particular social situations he or she may find difficult or which leave them with feelings of confusion. The stories are meant to describe the situation in detail, focusing on a few integral points, such as the vital social cues, what could happen and the reactions that may be expected to take place in the situation, as well as the actions and reactions that may be expected of him/her and why.

In short, the main purpose of Social Stories is to:

  • increase the child with autism’s understanding of a social situation,
  • help make these situations more comfortable,  and
  • provide them with suggestions for appropriate responses for the circumstances at hand.

Thus, due to the fact that this particular teaching tool can be utilized for this purpose, many parents might find that this can be a fantastic method for helping their child with autism cope with new social scenarios with less stress.

Although they are called Social Stories, the actual script is not very long.  Stories should be short and concise descriptions of a social situation.  They should detail specifically what a person might expect from the event and what is to be expected of them.  Therefore, they are designed around the child, making him or her the “hero” of the story.

The story usually includes the following 4 specific sentences to help with understanding:

1. Descriptive – Addresses the question about where the situation occurs: who is present, what they are doing and why.
2. Perspective – Provides insight about the thoughts and the emotions of the individuals present.
3. Directive – Suggests the response that is best suited for the autistic child.
4. Control – Authored by the child with autism; a statement meant for him/her alone to help remember the story so he/she can apply it in the actual situation.  (Note: this fourth sentence is typically only incorporated into the story for high functioning individuals with autism.)

Social Stories can be very beneficial because they attempt to deal with the “theory of the mind” issue by providing the child with autism with some perspective on the emotions, thoughts and behaviors of other people through a structured and consistent method. Furthermore, they give children the ability to practice the skills they learn through these stories on their own terms.