My son, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (high-functioning) in elementary school, has always had excellent verbal ability. But although he talks well, he does not listen well. He was also very poor at understanding and using social skills. Early on (in about the 3rd grade) I was using many techniques for social thinking that Michelle Garcia Winner outlines in her Social Thinking program. Carol Gray’s Social Stories was working well at our house too. My son never needed the pictures, he understood the stories that I wrote for him, to help him learn and use positive social behaviors. I began a personal social stories flip book for him. I’d like to share with you how I did it, and the kinds of social stories I included in it. You’ll see photos below.
An exciting thing happened when I started collecting social stories, or social rules into a flip book. I no longer had to talk to my son about things that we had gone over time and time again. No more reviewing the rules outloud, which for an Autism Spectrum kid with good verbal skills was often and excessive! Now I just wrote it into the flip book and showed him the page when I needed to.
I think by writing these down, he could use another modality (reading rather than listening) to process the information and learn the behavior. He was able to read the rules, think about them, and remember what to do so that eventually we didn’t need the book any more. On occasion, I still have to write some things out for him to understand.
For his personal social stories flip book, I used a set of spiral-bound 4 x 6 index cards that I bought at an office supply store.
Here are some of the social stories (social rules) we used for around the house. This one for good behavior after eating:
This one was used to help him learn about how to handle his dirty clothing:
When he asked me why he had to do chores, I wrote it down for him:
Staying organized for school work was pretty hard. He lacked the executive skills or organization and planning. And if the project did not have a sample picture of what it looked like when finished, he struggled with “picturing” it. For a long time he would forget to put his name on his school papers. So we had another social rule for that:
Helping him understand that expectations increase as you grow older, this idea landed in the book too:
Writing social rules down also worked well with discussions about delicate subjects like swear words, that neurotypical kids seem to know instinctively, but our autism spectrum kids often need specific teaching here:
And my favorite, when he just would not stop talking.
So there you have it. That’s just a sampling from our social stories flip book. If you try this with your kiddo, I’d love to hear how it goes!