As parents and educators, you might be wondering “How can I support and prepare my child or the children in my program to go back to childcare or school in a COVID-19 climate?”. A social story could be used to teach and familiarize children with new routines and expectations which could reduce anxiety and help keep everyone safe and healthy while at childcare or school.
What is a Social Story?
Social Stories are personalized stories with pictures, symbols and simple text to help individuals to read and understand social situations. The term “Social Story” was coined by Carol Gray who “recommends that a specific pattern be used to create a social story which provides information to explain what to do in specific social situations. The pattern includes several descriptive and perspective sentences”. See link for more info.
Social Stories can: prepare children for new routines, transitions, procedures, and experiences; help children understand what is going to happen or what is expected of them in a circumstance that may be new, different and challenging; be used to teach expectations, appropriate behaviours and how to make choices.
Here are some Social Story topics that might be supportive to your child or program:
- Hand washing
- Wearing a mask
- Physical distancing
- Sneezing and coughing
- I’m going back to childcare
- I’m going to see my friends again
- I feel nervous
Creating a Social Story
Create your Social Story using real pictures of your child, the environment and concrete objects, or find real images, pictures or symbols on the internet to illustrate a clear understanding of expectations.
Visuals help children literally see what you mean. They provide comfort, predictability and may help in reducing anxiety. “Pictures stay when words fall away”.
You can hand-write your Social Story or use a computer. Connect with your Resource Consultant for support.
In this story, we have used a combination of real pictures, cartoons, and symbols. When creating your story, be sure to choose the type of visuals that are best understood by your child or the children in your program.
Follow the structure of the
“Washing My Hands at Childcare”
Social Stories can be updated and rewritten as recommendations from public health and/or your child’s needs change. Remember to keep your social story up to date by saving it and making changes as new information becomes available and relevant to your child/children and/or program.
Here are some examples from programs and schools to inspire you:
- Back to School Social Story by Autism Spectrum Australia
- Returning to School During COVID-19 (by Heather Androsoff)
- Staying Healthy at Boulder Journey School (USA)
- Video: We Wear Masks – A Social Story by Mr. Mike
- The New Social Story Book: Illustrated Edition (Carol Gray) – RBE 734
- The Original Social Story Book – RBE 390
- Social Narratives: A Story Intervention for Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities – RBE 982