Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Social Story for a Child with Autism

You are Going to School Today (title)

There is a two-hour delay today. (Problem Statement)
School is not canceled. (Definition)
[my son's name] will go to school. (Expectation)
This is OK. (Affirmation)
Your teacher will show you your visual schedule when you get to school. (affirmation part 2)
If you go to school, then mom and your teacher will be happy. (The result)

This is the social story that I wrote for my son with autism this morning. My rule of thumb is to keep sentences short enough to stay on one line. I've identified the basic factor elements of a social story by enclosing them in parantheses.
We've used Social Stories as a survival method for tricky moments for a few years now. He has a whole folder passed on to his new teacher from his former one. In years past they used Board Maker at school to put pictures under all the words when he couldn't read yet. Now pictures are not necessary.

My son's former teacher claimed that social stories worked wonders for him at school. They worked miracles at home too (at first), but lately I've noticed that having an authority figure other than mom write and read these stories works better for my son. That's why I was more than a little stressed when he kept saying "school is canceled" over and over again. However, through some miracle we managed to be successful with a social story and avoid a meltdown while going to school.

We also had to look at the school's cable channel where the delay or cancellation announcements are posted. He needed to see it for himself so that he would believe me when I said school was not canceled.

My son even tried to write an "h" for home on our calendar. I had been trying a visual schedule using a small "h" for home and an "s" for school to maneuver around cancellations and scheduled days off (teacher preparation days). So, after he showed me what he had done I simply crossed his mark in and put in the correct one, an "s". That worked too after some arguing between the two of us.

I also called the school and let his teacher know that a very unhappy boy in the form of my son may show up in her classroom. He heard every word and this might have helped too. He received an excellent behavior report from his teacher.

Anyway, Carol Gray created social stories as a way to teach social skills to students on the autism spectrum. Her materials on the subject (including a taped seminar on how to write social stories) are available for purchase online. I heard that she is a better speaker in person, but the tape worked for me.

Gray is a Central Michigan University graduate. The Gray Center, which helps individuals on the spectrum and their families, is located in Grand Rapids, Mi. Grand Rapids is about a two-hour drive west from Mt. Pleasant. The website has a great store with a variety of books and a journal that are related to social stories.

On a personal note: My son and I were supposed to go to Grand Rapids tomorrow to see his urologist and nephrologist, but I canceled yesterday. There is a huge storm coming that is supposed to make traveling dangerous tomorrow morning and afternoon. We can only hope that the weather improves by March 4, the date of our rescheduled appointments. I don't mind missing out on what I refer to as "kidney day", but it looks like school will be canceled again--ugh.

I wish someone would write social story for me on how to handle cabin fever. We all have it. The last two weeks have been two days at school and three at home. It's been too cold to go outside. I hope this week he'll have at least three days at school. If they miss many more days, the students will have to make them up according to state law and will be going until mid June.


Casdok said...

As i was reading this i was thinking - i wish someone would write social stories for me!
Maybe we should get together and write some for parents!!

Elissa - Managing Autism said...

Glad to hear social stories have been really good for you. We use them when we can - we have to get J at the right moment for him to take them on board, but when he does they're really effective.

And I hope the weather improves for you soon.. there's nothing worse that being cooped up!

J said...

To Casdok: Maybe we should--with a touch of humor of course. : )

To Elissa: Yes, social stories have been wonderful. I understand about using them at the right moment. Always end up writing a social story when my guy is agitated and that's not easy.

I hope the weather improves soon too!

Marla said...

Cabin fever is the worst. With M so sick we sure do have it here. We did get out for the first time today with M! It went well.

M likes lists. They work great for her and ease her anxiety.