Download FREE social stories for all kids including children with autism, to help with things such as going to school, stores, the doctor, toileting, and riding the bus. If you are looking for a way to help prepare your child for upcoming events or gain compliance, these are by far the best way to do it! First defined by Carol Gray in 1991, they were created to help break down a task or social situation into smaller steps with descriptive words and pictures.
They can help to prevent temper tantrums or meltdowns in public places or aggressive behavior in children by preparing them ahead of time so that they know what to expect. It's essentially a form of visualization and desensitization, allowing them to imagine going through the experience in a positive manner without anxiety. They can even be used when past experiences have made them anxious to help them succeed the next time they must do it again. I have found them very useful for working with defiant children when trying to get them to do things/go places they typically refuse or resist.
Currently the free social stories I have created include; going to the grocery store, going to the doctor, going to school, and riding the bus. Using social stories for toileting can be extremely helpful when you notice a fear of sitting on the toilet. Although, initially created for children with autism, these can be used with all kids that may have fears or anxiety about going to these places.
Stories can be used as a strategy for just about any event and are easily applied alone or in conjunction with a picture exchange communication systems (PECS). They can be made in the form of a book or a video. They also work well with a visual schedule that tells the child what to expect. You would start by reading the social story multiple times prior to encountering the event, then put together a schedule regarding the event and use that during your outing. When all are used in conjunction, meltdowns and tantrums are greatly reduced over time.
You can download a free story, by clicking the pictures below that has already been created or there are many ways to make your own with real pictures of things your child will recognize, helping them to be even more effective.
Once you learn how to write social stories for kids, it can be easy to create your own for whatever type of event or situation they may be needed. One method that is free would be to gather a sequence of photos in real time of someone else going through the motions or finding them on the internet. Put them in order on your phone in a photo album. Then simply swipe through the photos explaining what is happening. Try to consider all of the things that would potentially trigger aggression or anxiety specific to your child. Some examples may include: loud noises, crowds, bright lights, certain tools used (ie. doctor or dentist offices), pictures of waiting rooms, exam rooms and more. If you are going to an amusement park and there will be people dressed up in costumes that could scare your child, have pictures of those. Whatever you can think of that may be a trigger, search for a picture and add it to your album. Then narrate the story similar to this...
One day (Name of child) went to (place). She went with her (name of people) and they got there by riding in a (vehicle). When they got there (child) they (first thing you would do). It was really cool to (say something positive). There would be lots of people, but (child) always stays quiet and calm, and is happy to be there. There might be loud music, but (child) can always cover his ears or ask for headphones. If (child) has to go to the bathroom, she will say, "Mommy, I have to go potty!" There will be people dressed up like (costume), but this is okay and actually very cool to see people dressed up in different costumes. There will be cotton candy and hot dogs that are yummy in my tummy! (Child) will always stay with mommy at all times. (Child) loves going to (place) where it is so much fun!
This is an example of how you can write your own story using pictures to demonstrate each sentence. Try to be as descriptive as possible about triggers that may occur and include positive descriptions about how those triggers make them feel calm, quiet and happy. It will take multiple times of reading a story to have the best success. I recommend reading them 1-2x daily for at least one week prior to the exposure or possibly even one month depending on how likely your child is to have difficulties with the place you are going.
Using stories can be great for helping with toileting behavior in general, but are especially effective when potty training bowel movements. This worked great for my middle son, who after having a bowel movement and seeing it in the toilet, suddenly developed a fear. He refused to even attempt to go, so we made up a story about him going and I read it to him everyday.
After reading it to him for about a week, I had him wear loose shorts without any underwear, diaper or pull up. It only took one accident and he made it to the bathroom after that! If you are able, I highly recommend getting pictures of your child sitting on the toilet (private parts cut out of course), a picture of BM or pee in the toilet and putting them together in a photo album on your phone. This helps desensitize them to those things when they happen in real life to eliminate fears or for children with autism to help prepare for sensory overload. Then narrate a made up story about your son/daughter similar to the one provided in the printable, but include those pictures when you are providing the narration. You may even add that it is fun to sit on the potty, it feels good to be clean and it's fun to flush the potty when we are all done and say "Bye bye" while it goes down the drain. Doing this along with my other valuable free potty training tips will have your child trained in no time!
One mother I used to work with, who had a daughter with autism, was successful in getting her to go within 1-2 months after writing a story about the events of her daughter’s day, including using the bathroom, while using real pictures of her daughter. She read it to her everyday and suddenly one day after a couple months, she just went into the bathroom, sat on the potty and went! It's amazing how this can make such a difference!
If you haven't already, be sure to download my eBook with the best tips and techniques for helping all children by clicking the image below!