What is a Social Narrative?
Sometimes individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can face particular challenges in everyday situations. Social narratives are an easy way to help the individual work through these challenges. Social narratives are inspired by Social Stories™ by Carol Gray and have been used by a variety of professionals. They can be used for a variety of situations, including preparing individuals for new experiences, explaining complex social situations, or coaching individuals through difficult skills.
Social narratives often begin with factual statements of what the individual may encounter or experience in given situations. The narrative then often progresses with information about why the situation might occur, how it might be difficult and then provides choices for how the individual might respond to the situation when it does occur.
Social narratives can be suited to a variety of reading and interest levels by varying the amount and complexity of information presented on each page. They generally include simple text and are written in first-person (from the individual’s point of view). When appropriate, pictures can be used to supplement the text. They are most useful with individuals who can sit and attend to a narrative. Social narratives are not appropriate for everyone.
- Choose the situation of focus and the reading level of the individual.
- Make a title page with a simple title (e.g., I Can Stand in a Line).
- Using first-person text, describe the context of the situation in a few sentences (e.g., Sometimes people have to wait in lines. People wait in lines at stores, in restaurants, and even at school).
- Describe the emotions/common responses of the individual during the situation in
2- 3 sentences (e.g., Waiting in lines can be hard. Sometimes I want to skip to the front of the line or I want to yell and cry about having to stand in a line.)
- Describe the appropriate response to the situation and various options the individual has (e.g., I will try my best to wait my turn and stand in the line. I will try to remember not to yell and cry about the line. If it is really hard for me to wait in line, I can tell my parents or my teachers and they will try to help me.)
- Give 1-2 finishing sentences (e.g., Waiting in lines is something I will have to do sometimes. It can be hard to wait in line, but I will try my best to wait).
- Re-read it to ensure it makes sense.
To Use a Social Narrative:
- Create a quiet time to sit with the individual.
- Explain that you are going to read a narrative together.
- Read the narrative (or have the individual read the narrative).
- Answer any questions, if the individual has any.
- Try to make time to review the narrative multiple times prior to encountering the challenging situation.
- Have the narrative available for reference during the challenging situation.