Using Social Stories to Support People with I/DD During the COVID-19 Emergency

Fri, March 20, 2020

Adult hands hold a board with words and pictures while child moves or adds a piece

What is a Social Story?

Social stories can be used with adults and children; they are a tool to help provide directions and examples of appropriate ways to respond to social situations. The goal of a social story is to illustrate and clarify expectations while building skills such as coping and emotional regulation. Social stories provide framework and should serve as a clear example of expected behaviors. Social stories consist of directive sentences (sentences that tell a person what to do) and descriptive sentences (sentences describing the situation). A well written social story has both types of sentences. A social story should be succinct while clearly highlighting the person’s goals and target behaviors. See the example below.

Recipe for an effective Social Story:

Right now, I have to stay at home so I am safe. 
(Descriptive) 

It may be hard for me because I like going to school.  
(Descriptive) 

When I am home, I can do fun activities like write letters to my friends and play board games.  
(Descriptive, provides specific examples of what the person can do) 

When I am home, I will follow directions from [CAREGIVER NAME(S)] and use my breathing techniques when I feel frustrated.  
(Directive and clearly states expected behavior) 

Staying at home can be fun!
(Descriptive and positive) 

Reference: 

How to Write a Social Story - Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Resources:

Many organizations and individuals have been generously sharing social stories around COVID-19/coronavirus. Here are a few we liked and wanted to share:

Anxiety and COVID-19 Social Story

COVID-19 Social Story - by Teaching Differently

Let's Beat COVID-19 Social Story

COVID-19 Social Narratives - by Breezy Special Education

More resources—beyond social stories—can be found in our COVID-19 I/DD Database.