Write Your Own Social Stories – Keep Your Child with Autism Safe
Today a Simply Classical mom from Australia raises a good question from our Simply Classical discussion forum:
“My son will do whatever he is told. He knows about ‘stranger danger,” but I think he associates only creepy people with ‘strangers.’ He might go with someone he sees as being nice or friendly. He is vulnerable. How do I teach him?”
We include Safety lessons throughout Myself & Others. You can expand on, role play, or repeat any of the weeks that address the areas you need.
You might also consider writing your own Social Stories (Carol Gray). These worked very well for us. You just create your own little booklets to read and reread. The advantage of a Social Story is that you can speak in the exact words that you know your child will understand. This differs from child to child and, in your case, from continent to continent.
You can find various formulae, but the key components include at least these types of sentences:
Descriptive Sentences – describe the social setting, where the situation occurs, individuals involved.
Perspective Sentences – explain how other people feel or react to a situation.
Directive Sentences – direct the child on what to do. Stated in “positive” terms, they are encouraging but direct.
Control Sentence(s) – the child says what he can or will do
Unlike the way we typically speak (mostly directive), a Social Story seeks to have 3-5 descriptive or perspective sentences for every directive sentence.
-Include little drawings.
-Be simple in your sentence construction.
-Include only 1-2 sentences per page.
-Include a verbal cue or form of self-talk that he can rehearse and remind himself in situations, such as “Say NO!” about improper touch or “Ask Mom or Dad,” if someone asks him to go anywhere.
-Read several times.
-Role play by yourself or with stuffed animals if you can.
-Revisit them in a way similar to Recitations: daily at first, then weekly, then monthly.
We made ours hand-size, roughly 4x6 or 5x7 with little construction paper covers.
Btw, we encountered this too. “Stranger” is often depicted as a person dressed in black, riding a black horse, wearing a black hat while grimacing. Our children need more than stranger-danger talks.
Here is a sample for your situation.
p. 1 Sometimes I meet friendly people. (draw people smiling)
p. 2 A friendly person is someone who smiles and talks to me. (draw a nice person with a broad smile bending down to the child — draw your own child)
p. 3 I might meet friendly people at church or at the store. (draw church, store)
p. 4 I can say hello to friendly people. (draw child waving, smiling, little bubble saying “Hello!”)
p.5 If a friendly person asks me to go somewhere, I must tell my mom or dad. (draw warning or Stop Sign)
p. 6 If I want to go with the friendly person, I must ask my mom or dad first. (draw child asking mom, dad)
p. 7 My mom or dad might say yes. My mom or dad might say no. (draw mom or dad saying Yes/draw mom or dad saying No)
p. 8 My mom or dad will know what is best. (draw beaming, wise mom and dad)
p. 9 I will always ask mom or dad first. This will keep me safe. (draw mom, dad, child)
p. 10 Closing page – big loving, safe heart at the end
If you want to include your faith, which most social stories do not do but I often did, p. 10 could say “God gave me my mom and dad to keep me safe.”
View all of our resources for teaching children with special needs, ClassicalSpecialNeeds.com. Our next levels 5-12 are releasing annually. Look for 5-6 later this fall or winter.