Cherry Garden School41 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 5BB

In This Section
Social Stories


Social Stories          

What are Social Stories?

A social story is a short story written in a specific style and format.

The story describes what happens in a specific social situation.  If describes what is obvious to most of use, but not obvious to those with impaired social understanding.

The social story describes what people do, why they do it, and what the common responses are.

Social stories were developed by Carol Gray (1994) for use with children with autism.

Social stories are often used to develop appropriate behaviour.

The goal is to teach social understanding, not rote compliance; to describe more than direct.

The purpose of Social Stories

·         To provide positive feedback to a child so that they can recognise their own appropriate skills and behaviour.

·         To help prepare for a new experience.

·         To help a child accustom themselves to a situation, and to respond appropriately.

·         To help prevent extreme reactions that stem from a lack of social understanding.

·         To provide a prompt for socially appropriate behaviour.


Features of Social Stories

·         Written for an individual about a situation they find difficult.

·         Based on careful assessment.

·         Writing suited to match the language and vocabulary levels of the child.

·         Written in the first person and present or future tense.

·         One aspect or step per page.

 How do Social Stories help?

·         Provide accurate information about real and relevant situations

·         Present information visually

·         Do not rely on interpersonal contact

·         Provide a prompt about how to respond

·         Provide reassurance

·         Provide positive feedback

Structure of Social Stories

Basic Social Stories use three kinds of sentences:

          Descriptive – give accurate information about the setting.  They provide, in words, the

                             basic facts about what can be seen.

          Perspective – provide simple information about why things happen, letting the child

                             into the heads and hearts of those featured in the story.

          Directive – prompt the child’s appropriate behaviour.

Presentation of Social Story

·         First time distraction free

·         Commonly presented black writing on white paper

·         Sit slightly behind and to one side of the student

·         Read to the child

·         Use frequently prior to time of difficulty

·         Child shares story with a range of adults


Questions make good titles and help focus the writer. For example ‘Why is it important to answer the register?’


Social Stories are not ‘bossy books’ – the aim is to present information that will help the child understand the situation.

Additional information:

The New Social Story Book

          Carol Gray (2010)


Writing and Developing Social Stories – Practical Interventions in Autism

          Caroline Smith (2003)


Here is an example:

Taken from:


Return to Previous Page