Earlier today, I found myself preparing a session presentation for a local conference entitled, Transforming Social Storytelling with the iPad.  Wholly ignorant of this approach, I’ve been delighted to find out that telling social stories can have a profound impact on individuals who fall within the “autism spectrum.”

Here’s the TechFiesta session description:

“Social Stories were devised as a tool to help individuals on the autism spectrum better understand the nuances of interpersonal communication so that they could interact in an effective and appropriate manner” (Source: Wikipedia). 

Blend images and sound into a video social story using your iPad. Learn how you can use inexpensive apps on the iPad to easily create social stories for those within the autism spectrum.

Have you heard of “social stories?” I certainly had not. A work colleague had prepared several fascinating narrated slideshows or enhanced podcasts and shared them with me. Unfortunately, while I could offer technical suggestion, I didn’t quite understand what s/he was trying to accomplish aside from narrating photos she had taken and sharing the resulting video with the student and his/her parents.

Social Stories are simple, quick, personalized little stories that put a particular kid as the “star” of the story- and help that child gain understanding about the social world around him- both what to expect, and what is expected of him.  

Social Stories are commonly used in the autism/Aspergers/PDD community, but I think they are helpful for all kids. When my own children were small and had not yet acquired language, I used Social Stories to help them understand day to day routine. (Source: Skills for Living)

When I asked for clarification, I was told that they are social stories. I immediately googled this term and stumbled upon Carol Gray’s web site on the subject. There, social stories are described in this way:

Click here to view a You Tube video of Carol Gray describing Social Stories(TM).A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. 

The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience. Half of all Social Stories™ developed should affirm something that an individual does well. 

Although the goal of a Story™ should never be to change the individual’s behavior, that individual’s improved understanding of events and expectations may lead to more effective responses.
Click here for more detailed information.

For iPad users, there are immediate applications. One of the applications being used is the versatile Sonic Pics ($2.99). You can blend Sonic Pics creation into a video using iMovie or, my favorite, Pinnacle Studio on the iPad. 

A few other creation tools include the following:

Other apps also work:

Some social story video samples:

Of course, you don’t just have to use an iPad to accomplish this, but the iPad does make doing this quite easy. The videos that have been shared with me have a simple script–prepared by an educational diagnostician–that read like the one below:

John likes the red sliding board on the big playground. 

Jennifer likes the red sliding board too. 

Mark walked to the top of the slide and sitting on his bottom. He is going to slide down.  

Ms. Gonzales and John are sitting at the top of the yellow sliding board. John slid all the way to the bottom, very slowly. 

Jennifer slid down quickly!  

John is walking up the steps to get on a sliding board. 

These friends like to hang from the green bars. These friends say sliding down the blue sliding board is fun! All 3 friends slid down.  

“Recess is over! Time to Go!” 

John is going to line up with his friends.

You can imagine the photos/images that go with each paragraph or line above. Each illustrates the line featuring a student’s actions, whether by him/herself or with others. A piece of advice that describes these social stories:

As much as possible include actual photos of the child in the social story. I have 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. (Source: I Love ABA!)

Here is another example:

The following is an example of a social story explaining when it’s appropriate to

I like to run.  It is fun to go fast.
It’s okay to run when I am playing outside.
I can run when I am on the playground.
Sometimes I feel like running, but it is dangerous to run when I am inside.
Running inside could hurt me or other people.
When people are inside, they walk.
Walking inside is safe.
I will try to walk inside and only run when I am outside on the playground.
My teachers and parents like it when I remember to walk inside. 

Combining images featuring a child and the narration results in, what it looks like to me is, Carol Gray’s storymovies

However, in the edtech world, this is enhanced podcasting or, as Wes Fryer calls them, narrated slideshows. A simplified version of a digital story featuring a script and words. There are many tools that could be used to accomplish the creation of social stories…it is the use to which the tools are put to create a social story that is novel and exciting!

Some of the suggestions for writing a social story are as follows and are available online from The National Autistic Society (UK) article, How to Write a Social Story:

  • social stories need to have an introduction, body and conclusion and should use positive language (ie where possible, describe what should happen, rather than what should not)
  • stories need to be as accurate as possible and should include words like sometimes and usually for situations where a particular outcome is not guaranteed
  • stories should appeal to the interests of the person for whom they are written. Avoid using words that may cause the person anxiety or distress
  • the content and presentation of social stories should be appropriate to the person’s age and level of understanding.
  • If writing for a child, write from the first person perspective (I will try to wait until it is daytime before I get up in the morning).
  • Pair age-appropriate photographs, picture symbols or drawings with text to help people who have difficulty reading or for younger children, as in Figure 2 at the bottom of this page. 
  • When writing for young people or adults, use the third person perspective (they, he, she) and adjust language and presentation accordingly. You could use a smaller font size, or present the story in columns as in a newspaper article.

Have you created a social story with an iPad?

Want to read more about social stories? Check out this Evernote Notebook on the subject or just Google it. Tons of information out there.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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