Some of the word’s earliest
communications relied on icons and pictures to tell a story and communicate
information. Today as the world bridges languages and people become more aware
and sensitive to individual differences, images are used more and more to
communicate information. For a person with a developmental or learning
disability, pictures are used to form Social Stories, an invaluable tool to ease
communication and help manage everyday life. There are easy-to-use resources
available to help parents and guardians create Social Stories customized to
your loved one’s needs.
picture is worth a thousand words
Social Stories first gained acclaim
and acceptance in the early 1990’s at the hand of creator Carol Gray, educational
consultant and former teacher. On her
website, Gray explains, “Social Stories describe a situation, skill or concept
in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives and common responses in a
patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience.”
Social Stories are usually short in
length and use both words and images to break down tasks or social skills into
smaller, easy-to-follow steps or segments. They are designed to benefit those
with developmental delays, social issues, autism, attention or auditory
processing deficits, or other learning disabilities.
Social Stories offer
a great way to relieve anxiety, deal with behaviors and help those with
significant communication needs have a better understanding about what is
happening and expected in various situations. Social Stories make it easier for
disabilities to follow routines, calm fears and learn new skills, thus creating
an opportunity for greater independence.
There are several examples of Social
Stories on Bethesda’s online
Activity Center to help families and
guardians explain the dynamic Coronavirus situation.
Tools to help
Although they may seem intimidating to the non-creative among
us, tools and resources exist to help parents and guardians create their own
Social Stories. Here are a few examples:
Stepping Stones – This simple Apple app
allows users to create visual guides or “paths” using their own photos, so as
to make sense of daily routines and schedules or stories. These visual supports
help to increase the independence and flexibility that people with
developmental disabilities can experience in their lives, as well as teaching essential
life skills and assisting with sequential processing. Free.
Stories About Me– An Apple iPad
application designed specifically for people intellectual and developmental
disabilities such as autism as well early learners in general. The application allows
users to create situational stories about themselves and share what they think
and feel with others. Free.
Boardmaker – This online tool lets you create talking books, behavior
supports, schedules, rewards charts and much more. Boardmaker also allows you to
download over 10,000 ready-made boards that other members have created.
Symbolstix – An online tool that uses lively, vibrant stick figures to
depict activities and attitudes. The package consists of approximately 11,000
symbols and costs $175.
Pinterest – Offers numerous boards containing templates and examples
of Social Stories.
Social Stories can be used
to teach social skills and set expectations for upcoming events and
situations. They could even help your loved one create their own story, serving
as a creative outlet. Try some of these options to create your own Social Story