Pull up a chair, lovies. We need to talk.
The internet is a wondrous place, we know this. We also know that it houses SO much information, put there by people, and that sometimes people make mistakes.
I went to hear Carol Gray speak last Friday. Carol Gray, in case you’re not as nerdy as I am, is the creator of Social Stories™.
Yes, I did buy the newest book.
Yes, I did ask her to autograph it.
Yes, I am head-over-heels in love with the concept of them, because frankly this is the way my brain thinks. I think in Social Stories™, and that’s okay.
Here is what I don’t love. I don’t love this statistic that she shared with the group: If you Google “Social Stories” today, you will get 107,000,000 results. Her website, the only true source of this evidence-based tool, is affiliated with precisely 1 of those results:
Here, I’ll help:
The reason I have trouble with this is that there are approximately 106,999,999 things out there that are claiming to be Social Stories™ when they’re not.
Rather than go into the “Why They’re Not” routine, I thought I might talk about things you will find in a social story.
- You will find supportive and informative language.
- You will find first- or third-person language.
- You will find the words “I will try” whenever a coaching sentence occurs.
- You will find “this is okay” or “that is okay” to help someone understand that something may be a regularly occurring thing, and that it’s okay to be uncertain but that this thing won’t harm them.
- You will find that this is to provide context around a skill, a place, a person, a concept.
- You will find that this is NOT to change a behavior. This is to help someone have all the information they need in order to make a decision or learn a new skill.
Okay, I can’t resist the “you won’t see” items, because HOLY BANANAS there is just so much of it out there!
- You will not see words like “I will/will not” or “I can/can not”. The exception to this is that you can use “I can ask for help if I need it” or “I can tell someone if I need time to _____”.
- You will not see statements such as “It is bad for me to _______” or “Mommy hates it when I _______” or anything with any sort of a negative connotation.
- You will not see any statement that is not objective.
- For heaven’s sake, if you see “I will be brave”, it is not a social story. Just stop it. I know they mean well, but it’s not to be called a social story. It’s something different and I don’t have a name for it.
There are other criteria to what constitutes a Social Story™, beyond the language that is used. There is a process for discovering what your story should be about- what’s the goal? There is a lot of editing that takes place (just ask my coworkers, they’ll tell you!). There is a mathematical formula hidden in there too, just for kicks (not really for kicks- it’s important!). There needs to be a plan in place for implementation of the story (i.e. don’t just shove it at someone when they’re in crisis, for the love of all that is and can be). And there should be a result. It’s not always positive, because there are humans involved in the entire process and some things may not always work the way we thought.
And that’s okay.
(p.s. go to Carol Gray’s website to learn more).
And here’s one I wrote for myself:
My name is Laura, and I am learning how to write Social Stories™.
Social Stories™ describe a concept or skill and provide context in a way that is respectful and meaningful.
Social Stories™ also help us celebrate something that we do well!
Sometimes it is hard to write a Social Story™. I can always take a break if I am having a hard time. I can start writing again when I am ready. This is okay.
I can also ask for help from my coworkers if I need help.
Social Stories™ help us learn new information so that we know what to do in a new situation!
I am learning how to write Social Stories™.