I thought this would be a good opportunity for a refresher course on Social Stories(TM). First, questions about what a Social Story™ is, how it is written, how it is used, etc. can be answered through Carol Gray's "Social Stories™ 10.0," available for purchase as a download on our web site. This resource contains the complete guidelines and criteria for writing a Social Story(TM).
Often in my work with The Gray Center I see that people need help recognizing what ISN'T a Social Story™. First, if you're tempted to purchase a "social story" on a web site which offers to create a story for your child for a fee, or sells collections of stories they've written--whether or not they claim to use Carol Gray's guidelines--these are not likely Social Stories™. Carol Gray has two current books containing collections of Social Stories™: "My Social Stories Book" and "The New Social Story Book: Anniversary Edition" (with a CD that enables you to revise and print each Story for your own audience—see below for more information). The Gray Center produced two years' worth of "The Social Stories Quarterly" which contain Social Stories™ and Social Articles (for older or more advanced audiences), which are now sold as pdf downloads. All of these resources are available on our web site.
If you read a story and any of the following are true, then it is possible that the story is NOT a Social Story(TM):
1) it sounds more like a "to do" list than a source of helpful information and suggestions;
2) you sense that it was written with a sole focus on eradicating a problem behavior;
3) it seems as if the goal of the story is to just get a child to comply with an adult's rules or expectations;
4) it contains negated verbs (i.e. not…);
5) there are first person statements - i.e. statements written in the child's "voice"- that refer to a child's mistake or negative behavior (the combination resulting in a self-depreciating statement);
6) it contains second person statements;
7) it contains the word "should";
8) you realize the stories for this child always provide new information, never applaud what the child currently does well;
9) there are statements that, if they were interpreted literally, would not be accurate or true, and/or
10) the title identifies a desired behavior, as in, "I Sit Quietly in my Desk."
If written according to the guidelines and criteria developed by Carol Gray, Stories will have a positive, respectful, reassuring quality, and will provide missing information to ensure social understanding, not rote compliance. In addition, half of all Stories written for an individual must applaud something that person currently does well.
You'll notice that references to Social Stories are followed by the trademark symbol (TM). Carol Gray, as the developer of this valuable tool, has the right to trademark. She welcomes assistance in sharing information about Social Stories(TM) through college theses, newsletter articles, school in-services, etc. However, only Carol Gray, her "Writing Social Stories(TM) with Carol Gray" DVD, the "Social Stories(TM) 10.0" mentioned previously, and members of "Team Social Stories(TM)" can be utilized as formal training to learn to write Social Stories(TM). Those approved Team members are listed on our web site. This protocol is followed to ensure that parents and professionals are getting the proper training to develop and utilize Social Stories(TM) in a way that benefits the individuals for whom they're written, and to maintain the integrity of the tool. More information about the trademark can be found on our web site.
Finally, The Gray Center is starting a project of compiling YOUR effective Social Stories™, and we hope to make these available to parents and professionals in the near future!