Creating a Social Narrative

Give Autistic people the #SameChance this World Autism Month

  What is a social narrative and how does it help autistic people? A social narrative involves using a description of a social situation or concept to help an individual to develop a better understanding of the situation or concept. A social narrative can also be referred to as a social script or social story. A social narrative can be useful for describing hidden social rules or norms that individuals’ might find difficult to understand, this can make these rules quite explicit and clear. For example, someone may use a social narrative to better understand how to join in a conversation, or what to expect in a new situation, such as the hairdressers. The social narrative can be useful for suggesting strategies that an autistic individual can use in response to a particular social situation.  Social narratives can also be used to help non-autistic people to better understand an autistic person.   How do I create a social narrative? (by Carol Gray)
  1. Picture your goal: What is it you want this narrative to help you with?
  2. Think about the situation: Where does this occur? Who is involved? How does it begin and end? What actually happens?
  3. Get input from those who are involved: If the person who is involved can provide input it can be useful to include them in generating the content for the social narrative.
  4. Include descriptive sentences: Describe things that the person could do within that context that could support them to be successful in their communication exchange.
  5. Introduce an element of flexibility: Using terms such as “sometimes”, “usually” or “most of the time”, you can introduce the idea that things do not always work out exactly the same. You might even like to introduce some alternatives that could happen because things will not always go as we anticipate they will. 
  How can I simplify the complexity of creating a social narrative?  When creating a social narrative, it is important that you tailor the narrative to the individual it is for, considering their level of understanding and what is needed to meet their needs. It is important that you ensure that the social story you are creating matches the level of understanding of the target audience. Ensure that you match ability with suitable language levels, do not over complicate the social story.  A social narrative should be written using positive language. Write about what the person can do in the situation, not what they cannot do.   Is there an age range for the use of social narratives?  A social narrative is a useful tool for autistic individuals across the lifespan. A social narrative aims to introduce familiarity for new and challenging situations. This is a tool that is helpful for anyone regardless of their ability, their age or even whether they find social scenarios challenging or not. There are no limits to who can use a social narrative, they can be beneficial for everyone because it enables us to feel more prepared. 
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