How to Use Social Stories for Kids with Autism

Many children on the autism spectrum struggle with social situations in their everyday lives. They have trouble understanding certain behaviors or have difficulty accepting change. Being autistic is not easy but it doesn’t mean we can’t help them.

So, stories are specifically made for autistic children, and these are called social stories.

For these reasons and many more, social stories can be an excellent tool for informing kids about what they can expect in various scenarios and also what might be expected from them by other people.

Let’s start by talking about what social stories and where they came from.

Starting Your Social Stories for Autism

First developed by pediatrician Dr. Carol Gray in the early 1990s, social stories for kids with autism have seen increasing popularity over recent years. There are many social stories to be found and downloaded online at your disposal.

These stories cover topics such as washing hands, dealing with transitions, keeping safe during the pandemic, and much more. The range stretches as long as social stories for kids can be helpful.

However, creating your own social story from scratch is often the best way of relating to your individual child and telling a story they will truly engage with. This allows for specific scenarios or events that can be added to the story letting your child relate better to the story.

Starting Your Social Stories for Autism

If you’re wondering where to start, this article should help you as we take a look deeper at how you can effectively use social stories for kids with autism.

A social story is quite simply a narrative created to demonstrate specific situations or problems and how people might be able to interact and handle them. For children with autism, social stories are often used to help them understand social expectations, build their communication, adapt behaviors, and accept change. [1]

Social stories for autism allow the children to learn as they read through the materials. It helps them digest social situations that can be normally difficult for them to conceptualize verbally. This becomes a learning experience as if practicing when the real situation comes up.

Social stories are highly visual and are best when they are custom created for specific situations and individual personalities. When writing social stories, it is recommended to include specific step-by-step information for the child to follow.

We will delve into this further below.

What Do Social Stories Help Children With?

As parents, it’s our duty to teach our children effectively using the best resources out there. Research studies suggest social stories can help children with autism to relate to others and understand what might be best to do or not do when they encounter unfamiliar situations. This prepares your child by processing the best reaction or interaction so that they can carry it out in the right situation.

Social stories can also help kids with autism by:

  • Improving social skills and overall communication among other people.
  • Helping them understand both their own emotions and other people’s emotions.
  • Reducing their levels of anxiety, especially when they are put in the spotlight.
  • Understanding how they can practice self-care and self-appreciation.
  • Working on their behaviors and how they can interact with others.
  • Coping with life changes and transitions such as moving houses or changing personal belongings.
  • Developing and maintaining lasting friendships.
  • Using their imagination to help them explore new things.
  • And much more

How to Write a Social Story for Children With Autism?

Most autism experts would recommend that parents create social stories using the child with autism’s own voice and building from his or her personal perspectives. This makes the social stories for kids more relatable so that they can easily digest and learn from them.

Here are some more tips for creating a useful social story:

  • A good social story should have a specific goal like targeting the desired behavior of the kid(s).
  • A good social story should be factual with lots of information that is centered on the personality of the child.
  • A good social story should easily describe things while following positive language with simple encouraging words.

When you are writing social stories, you should ensure you are using visuals as much as text. Depending on how regularly you want your child to be exposed to the story, you might want to think about using it in the classroom/homeschool, as light reading during recess, or even as a bedtime story.[2]

Types of Sentences for Creating a Top Social Story

According to Autism Parenting Magazine, there are seven types of sentences that are generally used in social stories for autistic children. These sentences can be used as guides on how you can create your own social stories.[3] The types of sentences include:

1. Perspective Sentences

These are descriptions of the inner facet of another person like knowledge, thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, and motivations including physicality.

  • “My sister likes to run at night.”
  • “My brother doesn’t like horror movies.”
  • “My mom will do anything for us.”

2. Descriptive Sentences

These sentences answer the question of “why” an event or an action is happening. These are real physical sentences that cannot be assumed or filled with opinions.

  • “Children eat fruits and vegetables to get healthy.”
  • “Grown-ups go to work so they can buy stuff.”

3. Directive Sentences

These are sentences that respond to any kind of situation or action positively. These sentences are not consequences but rather a choice of action from doing another action.

  • “I will pray before going to bed every night.”
  • “I will look at both sides when crossing the street.”

4. Control Sentences

These sentences are mostly written by a child after just having heard a story or action. These sentences can be used to help children with autism as a reminder to do an action or set of actions to solve a particular event.

  • “I need to wake up early every day to get to school on time.”
  • “I need to drink milk every night to keep my bones strong.”

5. Affirmative Sentences

These are supportive sentences that can reinforce the meaning of any statement. It also emphasizes an opinion or a value. These sentences add to the gravity of the action and give it more importance.

  • “I will take respect my classmates. It is very important to be nice.”
  • “I will listen to my mom and dad. It is good manners to listen and stay obedient.”

6. Cooperative Sentences

These sentences explain the importance of the roles of other people in an activity or situation. This teaches autistic children to learn that other people are dependable and that they trust them.

  • “There is a lot to learn in school and lots of things to remember. My teacher can explain these to me so that I can understand.”
  • “There are so many animals in the zoo. The tour guide can introduce me to the animals so I can learn about them”

7. Partial Sentences

These sentences encourage autistic children in looking for the right response to any kind of situation. These are very helpful sentences as the child learns the significance of understanding different social situations and they can be managed.

  • “My sister loves to play volleyball at school.”
  • “My dad loves watching sports.”

General Tips for Using Social Stories for Kids With Autism

Bearing all of the above in mind, here are some more general ideas for parents of kids on the spectrum on how to use social stories to support the needs of an autistic child:

  • Determine which topic can be included in the social story and keep it specific. Avoid adding too many topics and information.
  • To help your child relate more, create your main character with your own child’s features. You can add specific facial or body features or things they’ve done in the past.
  • Always keep the stories in positive behaviors and associate comfort, understanding, and patience. Try to avoid negativity and always create the mood lightly.
  • Separate different concepts in different stories to address every specific need. If there are too many topics in your story, maybe making another story would be a better choice.
  • Observe and consider your child’s mood whenever you tell a social story. They will not always be in the mood to hear the stories so pick your time wisely.

How to Use Social Stories for Kids with Autism

5 Actions

Who Started Social Stories for Kids With Autism? Pediatrician, Dr. Carol Gray in the early 1990s.
Social Stories for Autism is a narrative that demonstrates situations to kids allowing them to handle these situations.
What Do Social Stories Help Children With? It helps them improve their social skills, understand emotions, learn self-care, cope with life changes, use their imagination, and many more!
How to Write a Social Story for Children With Autism? Have a specific goal using facts centered on the child’s personality to describe things in positive language.
Types of Sentences for Creating a Top Social Story. Perspective, descriptive, directive, control, affirmative and partial sentences. 

Summing Up

Social stories for autistic students can be a wonderful tool for helping children to develop their social skills, respond to situations appropriately, and much more. In fact, a 2015 study of 30 children with autism, half of which went through social stories training, showed that those in the group who received a social story exhibited improved social interaction. [4]

Of course, it is always worth bearing in mind that every child is unique, and what works for one young mind might not work for another. Social stories can be great fun to write, though, and are a creative way of learning and growing with your autistic child.

Featured photo credit: Stephen Andrews via


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8 Tips on Adopting a High-Performance Mindset

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a performance mindset as “the execution of an action.”

On the other hand, it defines a high-performance mindset as “better, faster, more efficient than others” and “producing results much higher than expected.”

A high-performance mindset is necessary for achieving peak performance and is something that most athletes try to achieve. Under each concept are examples from the world of athletics that can be applied to you as well.

Let’s take a look at the eight qualities you can do to achieve a high-performance mindset.

How to Adopt a High-Performance Mindset?

People with a high-performance mindset possess eight characteristics. These are developed through the years as these are not something people are born with.

They are achieved through hard work, effort, and consistency.

1. Setting Goals

People with high-performance mindsets create goals that are clear, specific, and realistic. [1]

When Hubie Brown took the head coaching position for the Atlanta Hawks NBA team, he knew he was in for a tough year. He had just coached the Kentucky Colonels to the championship of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Of the two leagues, the NBA had many more talented players than the ABA.

Hubie’s problem was that his Kentucky team was considerably more talented than his new Atlanta team. He knew that his Atlanta team would have difficulty winning in the tougher NBA.

He decided to see how many games Atlanta could lose under 10 points. This number was a clear, specific, and realistic goal. He knew they were not capable of winning, but if they could keep the games close, they would be showing the other, much more talented NBA teams just how competitive they were.

This initial attitude eventually led to 50-win seasons and the NBA playoffs.

2. Effort and Consistency

Effort alone is not enough. To develop a high-performance mindset, your effort must be consistent.

Bishop Kaffer, principal at Providence High School, led the school from near bankruptcy to solvency. He annually visited the homes of every freshman and every transfer who entered Providence. His consistent work ethic had him often working into the early morning hours at his desk and even attending a 7 am mass.

Dr. Orr, President of the University of St. Francis saved the institution from closure. He accomplished this in three ways.

  • First, he joined numerous community organizations. Prior presidents had little participation in community affairs, and therefore St. Francis had little local interest. Dr. Orr changed all that and made St. Francis an integral part of our community.
  • Second, he changed the enrollment from 500 full-time students to 4,000 students. St. Francis was asked to start a program where nurses with an RN degree from a nursing school could earn a BS degree by taking part-time hours while still working.
  • Third, he brought that St. Francis program into 19 states nationwide with over 3,000 part-time students.

High-performance men and women consistently bring great effort and energy to their work. [2]

3. The 5 P’s

“Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” – James Baker, President George H. W. Bush’s former Chief of Staff

Gordie Gillespie was an extraordinary coach in football, basketball, and baseball. He was named the Baseball Coach of the Century in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and was inducted into 18 Halls of Fame.

His practices were very organized and intense. One of his beliefs was “playing as you practice.” It was through his practices, with the emphasis on repetition, that he gave his players a high-performance mindset. He made his players believe that they were better than they thought they were!

Ed Spiezio, who played for Gordie, had a ten-year career in the Major Leagues. Ed devised an innovative way to practice batting. Whenever a cover was knocked off the ball in practices, Ed would take the cover, put socks in it, giving it the size of a baseball, then sew it back up.

His father and kids from the neighborhood would take those sock balls and pitch them to Ed from only 20 feet away. Through that practice, he became an outstanding hitter, especially against fastball pitchers. He carried this practice with his son, Scott, who played on two Major League World Series championship teams.

High-performance people know the value of the 5 P’s and practice them throughout their working years.[3]

4. Focus

A high school teacher once explained that to be focused, you can use a pen and summarize a paragraph or two in your own words when reading books. This method leads to laser-like focus while reading because it forces you to concentrate on the material.

When tested for studying for exams, you’ll realize that it doesn’t require much to reread the book. Instead, the summaries and interpretations will be enough.

In coaching, you will always look for concepts that can lead to laser-like focus for your players. You can use two techniques; one for mental focus and another for free throw shooting.

Saying the Expression “Give Me Your Eyes”

You only have seconds at time-outs during basketball games to get your points across. The idea is that when the coach has the players’ eyes, they very well may have the players’ brains.

Middle Ring Theory

When shooting free throws, most players look only at the rim. You can use the “Middle Ring Theory.” There are 7 ringlets on the rim that the net goes through. One of them is in the middle of the rim. The ball is 9 inches in diameter, and the rim is 18 inches in diameter. By focusing on the middle ring, the shooter can be slightly off to the right or left and still make the basket.

High-performance people eliminate distractions and give laser-like focus to the task at hand.[4]

5. Caring and Listening

People with a high-performance mindset give others more time, attention, and caring. They understand and execute that insightful maxim from John Maxwell that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

One of the best ways those with a high-performance mindset show they care is by developing the ability to listen. Listening is respect.

A survey of CEOs asked them how they spent their time. The results were:

  • 10% – Writing
  • 15% – Reading
  • 30% – Speaking
  • 45% – Listening

Almost half their time was spent listening.

An interesting take on listening is that it controls the conversation. Very few of us give that kind of credence to listening, but high-performance people do.

In a room of 1,000 people, when talking to you, they listen so aggressively that they make you think you are the only person in the room!

High-performance people show they care by listening.

6. Failure Quotient (FQ)

Most accomplishments have failure in their background. High-performance people work their way through failure. They turn obstacles into opportunities, and they do so because they have developed strong FQ.[5]

  • Thomas Edison failed in 10,000 experiments until he founded electricity.
  • Abraham Lincoln lost most of his elections until he was elected president of the United States.
  • Winston Churchill flunked 6th grade, and his teacher wrote that he was “dumb and hopeless.”
  • Mother Teresa often questioned her faith.

High-performance people conquer setbacks because of their strong FQs.

7. Think Differently – Courage

High-performance people are not afraid to think differently and have the courage to follow through on their instincts.

The gymnasium at Providence High School was not only exceptionally small but also had a tile floor! The gym was needed badly, so a position paper was written to start a fundraiser.

Sixteen wealthy people from the community were gathered by Bishop Kaffer to hear the story of why the gym is important for Providence’s future. Unfortunately, no one voted for the gym, and Bishop Kaffer was very disappointed. However, he decided that he would build the gym, despite the financial times.

He traded unions and got them to volunteer to build the gym. The ironworkers, pipe fitters, carpenters, plumbers, etc., all got behind the project. Everyone worked hand-in-hand with the tradesmen to make the gym a reality.

Bishop Kaffer thought differently and, with courage, pursued the completion of the gym. He surely has a high-performance mindset.

8. Have Fun and Humor

Humor dissipates pressure.

Most high-performance leaders are demanding. If the leader does not demand, nothing will get accomplished. However, the best leaders insert fun and humor into the workplace.

Coaches must demand that their players work hard mentally and physically every night in practice. One of the most demanding coaches in our country’s history was the great Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi. His two players, Paul Hornung and Max McGee were always testing his rules. One night they both missed curfew.

In front of the entire team, Lombardi gave them a substantial fine for the missed curfew. He then said if they missed again, he would give them an exorbitant fine. He thought for a minute after presenting the new fine, then told them, “if you could think of a place to go for that kind of money, take me with you!”

The University of St. Francis football team initially practiced at a park district field that was right next to a graveyard. In one practice, the offensive team was running plays for timing purposes with no defense.

The coach was Gordie Gillespie, a National Football Hall of Fame inductee. The players completely failed to run a certain play correctly and Gordie said nothing. They ran it incorrectly a second time with still no response from the Coach.

The third failure sent Gordie to the fence that separated the field from the graves. The baffled players stood and watched Gordie go the fence, face the graveyard, and yell to the graves, “hey, fellas, make room for Gordie. These guys are killing me!”

High-performance people do use humor to dissipate pressure.[6]

Tips on Achieveing a High-performance Mindset

5 Actions

Set goals that are clear, specific, and realistic. Be consistent, as effort will not be enough if you keep doing things differently.
Proper preparation prevents poor performance, or in short, keep practicing!
Focus and do anything and everything to keep your mental awareness at top levels.
Failure Quotient (FQ) can only be called a failure if you give up. Otherwise, they’re called experience.
Think differently and outside the box even when you’re alone and have the courage to follow through!

Final Thoughts

To have a high-performance mindset, you have to perform higher than you already know. One can have all the gifts and resources in life. But only with making the effort, consistency, persistency, courage, and humor as part of your everyday life, can one reach that higher level of performance.

In achieving peak performance, you have to take it one step at a time. The best mindset training starts by setting a goal. Then consistently following through and making every effort to complete a project. Mastering these values doesn’t have to happen overnight.

Soon, you’ll see yourself inspiring others as you show how a high-performance mindset separates losers from winners. Then at the end of the day, no matter what happens, don’t forget to laugh and smile.

Featured photo credit: John Aranoh via


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WTF Fun Fact 12916 – Princess of Netherlands Born in Canada

A Canadian maternity ward was once made extraterritorial so a royal baby would not be a Canadian citizen. Click to read the full fact.

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