Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Social Stories and Autism.

I am now two weeks into my new job as a Paediatric OT and I am absolutely loving it. I am blessed to be working with a really knowledgeable and friendly therapy team who have made me so welcome.
It’s been really interesting getting to know some of the children I will be working with as well as attending some really fascinating training sessions. I’m really excited about how I am going to be able to develop as an OT in this field.

One of the most interesting areas I have started learning more about is Sensory integration. Sensory integration which, in simple terms, is how a person’s brain is able to register the information provided by their senses within the body and from the external environment. It’s an absolutely captivating area of work which I am keen to get started working in. I’m hoping to dedicate some blog posts to some of the different areas of SI so keep your eyes pealed!

For today however I have decided to talk a little bit about Social Stories. I had never encountered these before and have soon come to realise how fundamental and effective they are when working with people with Autism and ASD.

In 1991 Social stories were created by an ASD teacher named Carol Gray to help teach social skills to people with Autism. Social Stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what the individual can expect in that situation and why.
The stories are often written simplistically with either symbols or photographs above each word in the sentence. They allow individuals to learn about the different levels of communication within a conversation or situation. Individuals with Autism find social situation difficult and struggle with developing and appropriate social skills, this includes understanding others feelings, reasons why certain things happen – abstract ideas etc.

The different levels of communication which Social Stories help explain include the following:
·         The things which were actually said in a situation.
·         How others in the situation felt.
·         What will happen in a certain situation and why.
·         What people’s intentions may be.

At work we use Social Stories for a variety of reasons, some of which I have listed below:
·         To help a student cope with changes to their routine whether this is an absence of a teacher, a change to an activity or moving to a different living group.
·         To help a student to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation, and therefore how they might be expected to behave
·         As a behavioural strategy, for example what to do when angry or upset.
·         To help the student develop with self-care skills (eg. Importance of washing their hands, getting dressed etc.) 
Why are Social Stories effective for people with Autism?
·         Many people with autism are good at visual learning, and like social stories because they're written down. Social stories are also often created using symbols and photographs as well as simple words so they are accessible for individuals whether they are verbal or non-verbal.
·         Social stories present information in a literal, 'concrete' way, which may improve a person's understanding of a previously difficult or ambiguous situation or activity.
·         Social stories can help with sequencing (what comes next in a series of activities) and 'executive functioning' (planning and organising) - difficulties experienced by many people with autism.
·         By providing information about what might happen in a particular situation and some guidelines for behaviour, you can increase structure in a person's life and thereby reduce anxiety.

There are some really good examples of Social Stories on the website link below:

It would be interesting to know if anyone uses or has any experience of using social stories. Please comment in the box below this post if you do!

Thank you for taking the time to read my latest post,
Kate :)

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