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August 2015 Tip of the Month – Social Stories

Social Stories.

For some people, it is difficult to understand rules for social interactions, to deal with change or to understand activities with many steps. Social Stories can support people with these difficulties.

What is a Social Story?

Carol Gray developed the Social Story philosophy in 1991 and has published many resources to support the creation and use of them (The full resource can be purchased from The Gray Center).  Social Stories model appropriate social interactions by describing a situation and then suggesting appropriate responses.

It is a clear, accurate and individualised story that breaks down situations into understandable steps using a specifically defined style and format.

They can be created on Power Point or Microsoft Word and then printed out to be read in a booklet format, hand drawn when you are ‘on the go’ and need to explain a change or new social situation, or they can be created and then read on tablets or computers, using Power Point or various apps (examples below). The flexibility of presenting a Social Story means that you can choose the medium that will best engage the person you are writing it for.  This will allow them to have frequent and multiple opportunities to read through the story in order to enhance their understanding.


 story creator book creator  pictello
Story Creator – free Book Creator – $6.50 Pictello – $25

Who is a Social Story for?

I have used Social Stories with people of all ages successfully. Although Social Stories were originally developed for use with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, they have been effectively used to support people with many different language and learning difficulties. You can vary the length and complexity of the language used in the story depending on the person’s language and attention levels. You can also ensure that the visuals used in the story are age appropriate and understandable for the person you are writing the story for. Being able to read the story using various high and low tech methods, allows the person to engage with the type of technology they prefer.

How to write a Social Story?

Many fantastic resources have already been created explaining how to write a Social Story. Here are two of the most useful link that I have found:



Why use Social Stories?


Social Stories can:

  • Decrease the occurrence of challenging behaviours when there are changes in routines.
  • Encourage a person to complete less-preferred tasks.
  • Reinforce or teach abstract concepts, such as time (e.g., next, later), actions, and prepositions.
  • Break down multi-step tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Increase a person’s independence by improving his ability to complete parts of his routine with less help or prompting.


How to introduce a Social Stories?

  • Read the story in paper form or on the computer or iPad in a quite/non-distracting location.
  • Read it every day before the activity that the Social Story relates to.
  • Ensure that the Social Story is accessible and available to the person at all times.




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Created by Jessamy Amm (Speech Language Therapist at TalkLink Trust)


A PDF version of this tip of the month can be found here Tip of the Month – Social Stories


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Paula Shennan

Paula Shennan

Speech Language Therapist at The Talklink Trust
I am a Speech and Language Therapist who joined the Talklink Auckland team in November 2011. I have an interest in the area of Assistive Technology and enabling and empowering individuals to communicate using various means.
Paula Shennan

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.talklink.org.nz/index.php/2015/08/11/august-tip-of-the-month-social-stories/


  1. Julie King

    Thanks so much for sharing your social story examples. I teacher has asked for examples of social; stories for younger children on biting, hitting, scratching and burping. Wondered if you knew of any please. You might also like to respond to her in our discussion group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/click-special-ed-nz/nzbIZ_p3WcY

    Hear from you soon.

    1. Paula Shennan
      Paula Shennan

      Hi Julie,

      I do not have any myself, but I will put this out to the wider team and see if we have any.

      Paula (SLT)

      1. Julie King

        Thanks so much Paula. Hope to hear from you soon.

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