We use social stories to help my 4-year-old with autism better process transitions. The reasoning behind social stories is to give the child an idea of what’s going to happen next to reduce anxiety about a new situation (and subsiquent meltdowns), and also to help show them appropriate responses to situations.
In this case, I was making a new social story to show that we are happy to go to speech, my little one has gotten into the habit of crying and protesting going into her twice a week speech therapy, which she loves. Kids with autism often get into habits like this, they aren’t reflecting what they really feel, they’re just engrained in a habit.
We have had success using social stories like this to break habits, and I wanted to share how we make them in case it helps you. We’ve tried a couple different ways- from pre-made social stories to velcro pictures that we attach to a story line. The little books like this work the best for our family.
Social stories aren’t just for transitions, they can be helpful in a variety of situations:
- Changes like moving houses
- Trying new foods
- Using the potty
- Establishing routines such as getting dressed or brushing teeth
- Breaking a habit such as removing clothing or running away in a parking lot
There are programs where you can make social stories, but since we already have Microsoft Word on our computer, I was easily able to make one using our pictures and clip art. These aren’t works of art, but they are useful, and both my kids like them because they feature familiar things.
I’ll share how I make social stories using Word.
- I’m using Word 2010, but I would imagine you could do the same with nearly any word processing program with clip art.
- Turn the page to ‘landscape’: Page Layout: Orientation: Landscape
- Set the Margins: Page Layout: Margins: Custom Margins: Top: 5, Left: 8, Bottom: 5, Right: 5
- Set the columns to ‘2’: Page Layout: Columns: 2
- Write a simple story with one item per line, detailing a couple steps before the desired activity, the desired activity, and what comes after
- Add Clip Art or simple images: Click where you want the image to go, so the cursor is there. Insert: Clip Art: type key word such as groceries or soup in search box to right. Click on desired picture to insert into story.
- Resize images as needed- click, and then drag the small box in the corner to make smaller
- Print, fold in half, cut along fold, and then use staples to attach pages together. You can make a construction paper cover if you’d like, and let the child decorate it, but we usually don’t because my little one doesn’t care about that.
- Read enthusiastically and often :)
To start, you can see two stories I made, one is for our new speech transition, and another is for trying a new food (soup!). Click on the links below (download should start automatically) and edit to fit your needs.
I’m not sure how this will work with other programs, as I said, I’m using Word.
Have you used social stories? How do your kids do with transitions?
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