Social stories are written descriptions of what to expect in a particular social scenario. Social stories can be helpful to use with children who struggle to adapt to new situations, have difficulty transitioning, rely on a predictable schedule, and/or have trouble understanding implicit social rules. The goal of a social story is to improve the child’s understanding of events and expectations.

For many children, especially pre-readers or beginning readers, social stories should incorporate pictures that help the child visualize what to expect.
According to Carol Gray (2010), the pioneer in the development of social stories, there are 10 Criteria that must be included in a social story. These include the goal, the six wh- ?s, a variety of sentence types (describing, coaching, affirmative, etc.), and a specific ratio of “describing sentences” to “coaching sentences”. More information on the specific format and content can be found in The New Social Story Book, Revised and Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition, available here:

3 Tips for Using Social Stories with Your Child:

  1. Try to stick to the format. Use the book, referenced above, or consult with your child’s speech/language pathologist or occupational therapist.

  2. Pick a situation or rule that’s “tricky” for your child (e.g., the first time going to a new doctor or school, social rules such as waiting until someone is done talking before starting to talk).

  3. Include pictures that are as accurate/representative of the situation as possible. You can take pictures at a new location before your child goes, or find them online. For social rules stories, you can have your child help to act out the situations and incorporate those pictures into your stories.

Here’s an example of a social story we’ve used with our clients at Emerge:
Preschool Power Social Story

The following story is adapted from a story in the Carol Gray book (above):
School Days Social Story

Gray, C. (2010). The New Social Story Book, Revised and Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons