How to Write Social Stories for Children With Autism

By Natalie Gailes

Social stories are simple stories that teach autistic children appropriate behaviour and social skills. A social story describes a situation an individual has difficulty with and tells what to expect from other people in that situation and what is expected from the individual. Write social stories for your autistic child to address difficult behaviours in certain situations.

Choose one behaviour or social situation for the focus of your story. Each social story should focus on one situation that your child has difficulty with. If your child gets nervous during group time at school, make it the focus of your story. Social stories should also be written in first person, from your child's perspective.

Describe the social situation your child has difficulty with. For example: "Sometimes at school we sit in a group. We listen to stories, sitting in a group. We sing songs, sitting in a group. We do morning exercises, sitting in a group."

Add a description of what to expect in that specific situation. Include your child's feelings or behaviours your child displays in that situation. For example: "When the teacher says it's group time, we quietly move from our desks to the floor. This makes me feel nervous and scared. Sometimes I hide under my desk."

Include a description of what is expected from your child in the social situation. List the reasons why it is important. For example: "Even though I feel nervous and scared, I need to sit with my class in a group. When I sit with the group, I hear exciting stories, sing silly songs and do fun lessons. I am an important part of the class."

End the story with a pledge to achieve appropriate behaviour in that social situation. Include the effect it has on other people or the individual. For example: "When my teacher says it's group time, I will try to walk quietly from my desk to the floor. When I sit with the group, it makes my teacher happy."


Format your social stories in the most appropriate way for your child. If your child can read, format the story with typewritten text. If your child cannot read, include photos or simple pictures that your child can understand. Present the social story to your child on a regular schedule. Social stories should be used frequently at first and presented to your child just before the situation will occur. However, if this is too stimulating, read the story first thing in the morning or at night as your child winds down. Fade the use of the social story over time. As you see your child's behaviour in a situation improve, review the social story less. Write different social stories for new and difficult situations.


If you do not see any change in your child's behaviour with the use of a social story, rewrite it. Your story may be confusing or fail to address the situation appropriately. Sometimes when you reword a social story, you see a big difference in the behavioural outcome.