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Social stories were developed by Carol Gray of Jennison High School in Michigan as a means of sharing the social rules of our world with those on the autism spectrum. They are an effective way to teach children the often illogical reasons why people do or expect others to do what we do.
Effective Social Stories have a certain form which allows the social lessons to become meaningful to the child they are shared with. I believe that every social story should include the reasons "why" these social rules are in place from both perspectives: that of the typical person and that of the person on the autism spectrum. Social Stories often contain pictures as well as words to make them clear.
This is an example of a social story I wrote about not hitting for a grade four student.
Every classroom has rules.
These rules are in place to protect the students and the teachers.
They make the classroom a safe place to learn.
They help lower the distractions in the classroom so students can concentrate on their work.
The first rule in the classroom is “no hitting other people”. Hitting can hurt.
This is not only a rule in the classroom, but also a rule in the whole world.
People do not hit each other.
They do not want to hurt each other.
A….. has a body that reacts at a higher level than other people. This makes it hard for you in a classroom because you see more, hear more and feel more than anyone else in the classroom. This makes it more uncomfortable for you in the classroom and your body often does not feel good. We know this is happening.
Because your body is not reacting like our bodies, you cannot tell us what is going on with words like we can. This is very hard for you and for us. You hit people to try to tell them something. It hurts us when you hit. This is not a good way to tell us something.
The rule in the classroom is NO HITTING. A…. is a member of the classroom. A…. must obey the rules like everyone else. A…. cannot hit people. He cannot hit his teacher’s aides. He cannot hit his teacher. He cannot hit the other students.
If someone is hitting someone else, they cannot stay in the classroom. The teachers cannot continue to teach them. The teachers cannot continue to be hurt.
We know that you hit to tell us something.
You may be telling us that there is too much information coming in to your body through your senses, so that you are uncomfortable.
You may be telling us that you are bored, that there is not enough thinking information coming in to your brain.
You may be telling us that you are not feeling well because you are sick.
You may be telling us that you are hungry or tired.
You may be telling us that you have to go to the bathroom.
You may be telling us that you are worried about your Mommy and Daddy, or your sisters, or your grandmother.
You may be telling us that you don’t understand what we are doing.
This is okay. We want to know these things.
Hitting doesn’t help.
We don’t know what you are trying to say.
We have to find other ways for you to tell us these things.
You could give us your arm for deep pressure to help calm your body so that it makes you feel more comfortable.
You could get yourself something to look at or to touch from the table behind you.
You could get up and leave the room if you need a break, or if you need to go to the bathroom.
You could give us a card, which tells us what is happening.
You could point to the words to tell us what is happening.
All these ways of telling us something work better than hitting because we will know what you are saying.
The classroom rule is no hitting.
A…. must obey the classroom rules to be a student in the classroom.
This will keep him safe.
No hitting will keep all the students and the teachers safe.
Note; none of the solutions will be effective we do not make the effort to ensure that the cards and/or words are available. Neither will they be effective if we are not paying attention and miss his efforts to communicate with us.