Children who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum tend to have difficulties understanding and appropriately responding to social skills. Frequently, this is something that needs to be specifically taught. One way to do that is with Social Stories from the Gray Center.
It isn’t easy to teach social skills to kids who have an autism spectrum disorder. There aren’t a whole lot of tools out there to help parents and educators teach these kinds of skills.
Often, a lesson on social skills involves role play inside of a special needs classroom, or filling the correct multiple choice answer on a worksheet about social skills. Neither of these techniques allows kids to easily connect the social skills that they learned about into the “real world”.
Carol Gray, of the Gray Center, has downloadable tools that can help teach social skills to children who have autism, as well as to children who don’t happen to have special needs. The helpful tool is in the form of something called Social Stories.
Social Stories are books that describe a situation, skill, or concept in terms of the relevant social cues that a child should be picking up and responding to. It teaches what the common responses would be to a given social situation, and also gives some perspectives about what is expected. The stories are written in a manner that is reassuring, and easily understood. Each one that is developed should affirm something that the individual does well.
The Gray Center website has a wealth of resources, and helpful suggestions, that will guide parents through the Social Stories that they create for their child. Parents can make a Social Story about a specific situation that occurred at their child’s school.
Social Stories can be made to prepare children for travel, or to visit a doctor, or to understand how to make friends. These stories can be made to help an anxious child cope with things that they heard about in the news, (such as a war or a natural disaster).
There are also Storymovies that you can purchase. Like the Social Stories, the movies help teach social skills to children. The movies involve common social scenarios that are acted out by children, as well as grown ups who are portraying parents and teachers. The movies have a freeze frame portion, that can be used to halt the movie in order for a discussion about what has taken place, and what the correct choice might have been.
Image by Brandi Jordan on Flickr