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Social Stories™

How Can Social Stories™ Benefit My Child

In 1991, Carol Gray, Director of The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding in Grand Rapids, MI, developed Social Stories™‚ and Comic Strip Conversations, strategies that are used worldwide with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She has published several resources on topics related to children and adults with ASD, including articles on bullying, death and dying, and how to teach social understanding. Since that time, an increased understanding of the approach, coupled with research and experience from those using the tool, has resulted in minor but important revisions to the original definition. The Defining Criteria and Guidelines, known as Social Stories‚ 10.0, can be purchased from The Gray Center as a download.

History of Social Stories™

Creating a Social Story™ is a great way to prevent a possible meltdown during a transition or in a new situation. Social Stories™ describes a situation or concept in a format understandable to a child with autism. Stories can explain expected behaviors, give simple steps for achieving certain goals or outcomes, or teach new routines and anticipated actions. Providing Social Stories™ for an event or activity can decrease a child’s anxiety, improve their behavior, and help them understand the event from the perspective of others. Prepare children with autism for transitions by describing the new experience to them and creating simple rules to define the social situation.

What Is A Social Story

A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience. Half of all Social Stories‚ developed should affirm something that an individual does well. Although the goal of a Story‚ should never be to change the individual’s behavior, that individual’s improved understanding of events and expectations may lead to more effective responses.

Although Social Stories™ were first developed for use with children with ASD, the approach has also been successful with adolescents and adults with ASD, other social and communication delays and differences, and individuals developing normally.

Creating Your Own Social Story™

There are four key parts in creating a positive and effective Social StoryTM. Try following the steps and create your own Social StoryTM geared towards your child and their specific situations.


  1. Descriptive Sentence, Describe the situation in a neutral, fact based way.
  2. Perspective Sentence, Statements that describe other people’s thoughts or feelings about the situation.
  3. Directive Sentence, Gives suggested responses or  choices of responses that would be appropriate, e.g., “I can ask my friends to play.” or, “I will try to stay in my chair.”
  4. Affirmative Sentence, These might state a rule or reassure the child, e.g., “One child slides down at a time. This is safe and okay.” Sentences might also express shared values, e.g., “It’s good to play fair when playing games.”

Sample Social Stories™

I can wash my hands when they are dirty. My hands get dirty when I do many things, such as playing with toys, after using the toilet, and playing outside.

An adult will tell me when I need to wash my hands. I will try to wash my hands when the adult tells me.

Washing my hands gets them clean again. I need to wash my hands before I eat. Washing my hands is a healthy thing to do. I will try to remember to wash my hands before I eat and after I use the bathroom without having an adult remind me.

The water will run over my hands. It may be cold. It is okay to wait until the water is warm. The soap might feel slippery on my hands. When my hands are slippery, it means that the soap is working to clean my hands of dirt and germs. These are the steps for washing my hands:

  1. Turn on the water.
  2. Squirt soap in my hands.
  3. Put my hands under the water.
  4. Rub my hands together and make soap bubbles. I can rub them while I say the ABCs.
  5. Rinse the soap off my hands.
  6. Dry my hands on a towel.

My hands can feel good when they are clean. I will try to follow all the steps and have clean hands.


  • People like it when I say “hi” to them.
  • There are many times during the day when I can say “hi” to people.
  • I can say “hi” to my family when I get up in the morning.
  • I can say “hi” to my bus driver.
  • I can say “hi” to my friends and teachers when I get to school.
  • I can even say “hi” to people I see in the hallway.
  • I can say “hi” to new people that I meet.
  • It makes people happy when you say “hi” to them.
  • I will try to say “hi” to the people I see during the day