Teacher and young child reading a book

Autistic children or children with similar developmental conditions can do well with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Teaching children how behavior works, and how it applies to real-life situations, is a simple way to improve social, communication, academic, and motor skills. Incorporating social stories into an ABA program offers an opportunity to teach children with autism about behavior and social situations, all in a creative and actionable outlet.

The first social stories were developed by a pediatrician named Dr. Carol Gray in the 1990s – her first book, “Charlie Over the Water,” was written for a kindergarten student who had trouble understanding the rules of a game as well as the rest of the class. Soon after she learned of the success of the first, she published titles like “It’s Time for Recess at VanRaalte” and “Lines.”

As explained by Autism Parent magazine, a social story is a narrative that walks children through specific common situations and problems and provides an actionable resolution to complete the story. In this way, it helps autistic children better understand acceptable behavior and how to communicate with other children and adults.

But what are the other benefits of social stories for autism? What can parents expect when introducing this activity to their children? Here are a few of the reasons to consider introducing social stories to autistic students:

1. Gain Social Skills

Social stories for autistic kids are most useful in helping children develop and maintain better social skills. An autism social story is written to walk through specific troubling scenarios (and learn how to resolve them), but it can teach valuable social lessons along the way. Autistic children who are exposed to resources that teach them social skills may be better at:

  • Displaying and managing emotions
  • Starting and holding conversations with others
  • Sharing and taking turns playing with others
  • Understanding problems and working out different resolutions to solve them.

2. Understand Self-Care

Autistic children may find it more difficult to express what they need, which can make it more difficult for them to care for themselves. In this same way that social stories can help your child develop social awareness and an understanding of their own emotions, it can remind them to process how they feel and make it easier to care for themselves.

3. Gain Resources for Coping

Amy Tobik, BA, shared that one of the most important reasons to share social stories for autistic students is for the opportunity to teach them how to solve those problems that come up in real-life situations.  A social story takes familiar, common events and puts them on the forefront, making them highly relatable. And when it’s time to develop a resolution to an unfamiliar situation, the social story teaches autistic children how to work through the problem.

“Social Stories are essential because they can significantly improve the way autistic children relate to others,” Tobik wrote for Autism Parenting magazine. They help them learn what to do (and what not to do) when faced with unfamiliar life situations.” 

4. Encourage the Use of Imagination

Stories in general are great tools for showing children what it’s like to use their imagination. Books with pictures, especially, can make it easier for children to picture scenarios in their heads as they listen to the story. Using the imagination when reading social stories is a great way to emphasize creativity, but also work through different resolutions that can ultimately impact their confidence and ability to handle themselves in social situations.

5. Understand Acceptable Behavior in Public and Private

Young child reading a book in bed

Social stories for children paint a vivid picture of specific scenarios and display how the main character works through the pain points, piece by piece. Along the way, behavioral patterns are also put on display, ready for your child to absorb. Social stories can be a great tool for reinforcing acceptable behavior, both in public settings like the classroom and private settings like your own home.

6. Make Life More Relatable 

Children often look to story books as an opportunity for entertainment, but there’s so much learning value that comes with social stories. Seeing other children work through common day-to-day issues can make it easier for autistic individuals to understand; relatability can have a positive impact on developing autistic children, as they better learn how to work through their own difficulties while knowing someone else (in this case, a character) has also had to cope through tough times.

Consider ABA therapy at Blossom Children’s Center

Whether you’re a parent who’s having a hard time navigating the complexities of behavior in your child with autism, or you’re a special educator who needs more tools, resources, and general awareness about autism spectrum disorder, introducing the child in your life to ABA therapy may be the next best step.

At Blossom Children’s Center, we use ABA therapy to guide autistic children to better understand how to express their emotions and properly communicate how they’re feeling in social situations.

This type of therapy is also useful for increased social exposure; between circle time with peers, reading social stories, and completing group activities, Blossom opens up a world of possibilities for your child in an effort to help them feel more comfortable, seen, heard, and accepted.

Learn about our ABA therapy methods and programs by scheduling your consultation today. 

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