Friday, September 9, 2011

How to Write a Social Story

Kids who are on the spectrum can often have trouble managing social situations. One way to help them with this is to write a social story that teaches them what the appropriate behavior would be in a given situation. iPad even has an app for making social stories. It's super cool. You can add pictures or video or even audio of yourself reading the social story to your pre-reader. A successful social story should look something like this:

Dick and Jane like to play games.
They decide to play a game together.
"I'll go first," says Dick, grabbing the dice.
Jane is sad.
She wanted to go first.
Dick and Jane decide to take turns going first.
Now they are both happy.
Playing games together is fun.

Okay, so in the interest of full disclosure, that was basically plagiarized from my new iPad app. It is a slight alteration of the social story that came with the app I spent $13.99 for--I paid the $13.99 because I hoped the app would provide me with a few more stories, so I wouldn't have to write my own. It didn't.

You see, I can't write a social story to save my life. I'd like to blame this handicap on the fact that I am currently writing a dissertation and teaching university literature courses. In other words, I'd like to blame it on the fact that I have highly developed skills of analysis which require me to create a complex yet crisp narrative that has well-developed characters, an inspiring plot line, and some greater sense of beauty that make it impossible to write a simple story. But I've had this problem for awhile.

When I was in high school, my English teacher gave me an extra credit assignment to write skits reflecting everyday scenarios in the US so a new Japanese classmate could memorize them and work on her English. Since I was practically getting paid for the task, I took it seriously. Everyday, while the kids around me slogged through grammar assignments, I tried to create these skits. I managed to write exactly zero skits. What did people really talk about? It's such an existential question. How could I possibly capture this in a skit?

If I wrote a social story for Sky, it would look something like this:

Dick and Jane like to play games.
They want to play together, but they're kids, so they stink at sharing.
It's hard to know what game they like to play since they are imaginary children.
But for the sake of argument, let's say they played Hungry Hippos.
Oh wait a minute, Hungry Hippos doesn't require them to take turns.
It's a freaking free-for-all that makes an ungodly amount of noise when they play, and it has about a thousand tiny marbles that get lost everywhere.
Wait. What? What was I trying to do?
Oh... forget it!

Come to think of it, there is probably a good explanation here for why I'm not done with my dissertation. I don't know what it is, but I have a feeling it's here somewhere. In the meantime, I will keep trying to pinch social stories from other people!


FMBMC said...

I spent my childhood wanting a Hungry Hippos game and not getting one. Now that my kids have one I see the wisdom of my parents. I despise that game. Not even counting how many marbles each persons collects can make Hungry Hippos "educational".

FMBMC said...

Hmm, I may have to try my hand at writing a few of these stories. They seem suspiciously like my writing in school. I cannot develop characters to save my life. My poor English lit teachers!

Mom on the Edge said...

Woo-hoo! Just wrote TWO social stories! Of course, this means I am successfully procrastinating on my dissertation! What can I say?

Unknown said...

Hmm, We might have to attempt my personal hands from composing some of these tales. These people appear suspiciously such as my personal composing within college. We can't create figures in order to save my entire life. My personal bad British lighted instructors!

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