Social Stories – Part 4: The Final Chapter

So we have finally come to the end of our exploration into Social Stories. If you are reading this for the first time, please go back and have a look at Parts 1-3, as they will give you great insight into the intricacies of Social Stories and how to develop a comprehensive and accurate story.

8. ‘A GR-EIGHT Formula’: This is a handy tip to remember when coming to the end of your planning and writing phase of a social story. It can almost act as a ‘review’ of the content. The Formula is essentially an equation defining the relationship between sentence types in social stories (as mentioned in part 3). In this way there is accountability placed on the author to ensure there is appropriate description as well as rationale, for each story.

The formula is described as:

# of Descriptive + Perspective + Affirmative Sentences (Complete or Partial) = # of Sentences that Describe

# of Sentences that Describe
__________________________        ≥ 2
# of Sentences that Coach 


To be considered a true Social Story, the author counts the number of each type of sentence, adds the totals, then divides the total number that Describe by the number that Coach, where the solution must be greater than or equal to 2.

9. ‘Nine Makes it Mine’: This ensures Social Stories are always tailored to the individual with whom the story is to be written for. In doing this, it is very important that authors make sure they write stories thinking through the eyes of the child. Adult concepts and uninteresting texts/images will reduce the effectiveness of the story. Touched on previously, individualising the content is important for an effective Social Story, however, personalising the story adds experiences, names, friendships, preferences etc. to ensure the content and context rings true to the child. This creates enthusiasm for the story, and in turn a greater chance of adoption and consolidation of the story’s concept, furthering the chance of generalisation of skills and concepts.

In addition, the delivery of the story can be adapted too. Here, a child who responds very well to music can potentially have a simple social story ‘sung’ to them. A child who likes technology (i.e. 99% of children today!) can use a Social Story app to follow the story on their iPad or tablet device. However, keep the creativity sensible, as over zealous personalisation can take away from the story itself and its fundamental concept.

10. Ten Guides to Editing and Implementing’: This section is best to be read with a ‘draft’ version of a Social Story. Here you can compare the story and the editing that may be required. The ten steps are described below:

1) Edit: Obvious, but important. Typos and grammatical errors are the worst! Editing should also include consulting interested parties in helping form the Story (e.g. OT, Speech Therapist, Psych).

2) Plan for Comprehension: Make sure the story is set-up to achieve the best comprehension by the child. Are pictures and language clear and will hey be easily adopted by the child.

3) Plan Story Support: This includes resources or teaching practices to support Social Story implementation. This also ties into Section 9, where a story can be individualised and personalised. Think of how the story can be supported by resources, teachers, other staff to adopt the principles discussed within the story.

4) Plan Story Review: This is one of the most important parts of the implementation process. To consolidate skills, the story must be reviewed. It is important to review a story during a calm time, making it easy to follow and positive. NEVER should review be forced or used as a consequence for misbehaviour! Think about when it may be the best time to review the story? Can others support the review? How often (bear in mind over reading the same story may cause ‘boredom’ – therefore editing the story to include partial sentences, fill in the blanks etc. after time can increase participation). Have a plan for review.

5) Plan a Positive Introduction: Starting off on the right foot will increase the chances of success. Timing of reading the story and the location is important in positive planning.

6) Monitor: Like Reviewing, Monitoring is a very important step. Is it having the desired response? It is too complicated? Is it engaging? There are many questions to consider with monitoring, as such carefully look at this and adapt as necessary.

7) Organising Stories: If you have had success with one, you’ll probably want more. Make a folder or book with them. Keep them together to ensure they are easy to find and read. Always keep a copy saved to the computer or tablet device for future editing!

8) Mix and Match Stories to Build Concepts: If you’ve written a few stories, you may see some themes emerge. Organise the stories into themes (e.g. Playing with others, Using Manners, School time) so skills can be broadened.

9) Story Re-Runs and Sequels: Social Stories do not need to be ‘retired’, they can often remain unused, until required again. These ‘re-runs’ can further consolidate skills. Another idea is to develop ‘sequels’ to stories, further reinforcing concepts and adding in the notion that skills have been built and further skills are being developed.

10) Recycle instruction into Applause: The reuse of a story can have an updated focus from instruction to mastery. In this way once a skills has been successfully adopted, change the story to a reflect a tone of praising the child for their new formed skills.

This concludes our discussion on Social Stories. While the posts have been extensive, it is important to review all four pages, to get a very clear picture of how they can be introduced and implemented to their full measure.

Good Luck!

*’The New Social Story Book’ (2010) by Carol Gray, Future Horizons, was used in collecting some of the information for this blog post.


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