How to Write a Social Story

A Social Story is a tool often used to help teach a child about a desired behavior, or a specific event that will occur. It's a short, simple story focused on a specific concept. The story is typically individualized to the child, tailored to their interests, with a specific goal (or goals) that you are trying to reinforce, or generalize.  It may take repeated presentations of the social story for the child to apply the information described in the story to their own life and change their own behavior. 
* The research on the effectiveness of Social Stories supports its use when part of a comprehensive treatment package, and when certain pre-requisite skills are in place, such as listening comprehension. As a stand alone treatment, it typically is not effective to produce behavior change. A review of current literature is recommended before implementing Social Stories with a client.

Examples of social story topics could include: Privacy, Lining Up in the Classroom, Flapping My Hands, I Have a New Sister, Flying On an Airplane, Going to Burger King, When Grandma Comes to Visit, Riding in The Car, Is That a Stranger?, We’re Moving To a New House, When I Feel Angry, etc.

 I'll typically write a social story for a child who needs to know the unspoken or implicit rules of a particular social skill, such as a child who has learned to play board games but acts very rude and obnoxious when he wins. That’s a situation that is ideal for a social story because the child can perform the skill (playing a board game with a peer), but the child isn’t naturally picking up on the implicit skill of good sportsmanship.

While social stories can be purchased, it often isn’t necessary because:
-Social stories are super easy to create
-Social stories should be individualized to the situation and child, and be incredibly specific

The basic social story sentence format as recommended by Carol Gray includes: Descriptive, Perspective, Affirmative, and Directive.

Descriptive sentence: “My name is Josiah and tomorrow is my first day of school”
Perspective sentence: “When I listen to the teacher and follow directions that makes my teacher feel happy”
Affirmative: “When I want to answer a question, I will raise my hand until the teacher calls on me. This is the right thing to do”
Directive: “I will try to remember to raise my hand to answer a question, and not to yell out the answer”

Here is an example of a social story with the goal of teaching privacy:


When I need to change my clothes I do it in private. Private means that I am alone or with my family, and not in a public place where lots of people can see me. 

Everyone likes having privacy sometimes, like when they use the bathroom, or change their clothing

When I need to change my clothes I should:

1.       Get my clothes and go into the bathroom or my room

2.     Close the door

3.     Close the curtains on my windows

I can change my clothes in front of Mom or Dad. That is okay. I cannot change my clothes on the bus, or at the store. That is not okay.

When I go into my room or into the bathroom to change my clothes that makes my Mom and Dad feel happy, and they say “I'm proud of you!” 

**Quick Tips:

  • As much as possible include actual photos of the child or client in the social story. I've found its much more effective and intriguing to the child to read a social story that has pictures of their family, home, school, and own face inside of it.
  •  Tailor the story to the child’s likes and interests. 
  •   Use positive language. Focus on what the child should be doing, and avoid overemphasizing their current social deficits. Especially for older and higher functioning children, they can take criticism very hard and often hyper-focus in on negative statements. Instead of saying “If I like a girl, I can't follow her around or she will think I'm weird”, the social story could say “If I like a girl, I can ask her about her interests or give her a compliment. I should remember to stand outside of her personal space zone”.
  •   Keep it short and sweet. Most of the social stories I write are 1-page. If the child won't sit and attend long enough to hear the whole social story, how can they benefit from it? 
  •  Write from the perspective of the child. Its important to use language and explanations that will make sense to the child based on their cognitive functioning level. If the child is older and higher functioning its okay to say “When I do my homework, that makes my teacher feel happy and proud of me”. If the child is younger or lower functioning you may need to focus on outward behaviors and not internal emotions or thoughts, such as “When I do my homework, I get a sticker on my token chart”.

Social story resource:


  1. What a wonderful blogg, such a clever creative way to communicate, thank you for your knowledge and sharing it!!!

    1. Thanks so much for checking out my blog! :-)


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