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Social story help

33 replies

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 15:56

I've been suggested to write a social story for DS1 (3yrs) about circle time at pre-school.

Can anyone point me to a website / other resource to help me structure it correctly?

Any tips or suggestions on format? Should I turn it into a book? Include photos / pictures?

Not something I've ever done or seen.

Thanks in advance

OP posts:
Blossomhill · 04/01/2006 16:00


Personally I would use pictures to re-inforce what you are trying to get across.

Then break it down into what is expetced?

So eg.

  1. We have to sit in a circle for circle time

  2. Circle time is when we listen quietly to stories or sing songs

    etc. etc

    Using pictures for each point.

    I only have very basic knowledge of this so hopefully someone will be along with more
coppertop · 04/01/2006 16:34

If you google for Carol Gray you should get her site about social stories. I think there are some ideas on there. There is also a book of sample social stories and ideas that you can buy. I can't for the life of me remember the name or author but it should be on the NAS site.

For ds1's earlier social stories we took photos of him for it. I don't know how practical that would be for you to do though. He also had one with ordinary pictures/PECS symbols in it that worked just as well. The SALT wrote the words for us with a sentence and a picture/symbol on each page and it was made into a book.

I would keep it very simple as it's for a pre-schooler. Maybe something like:

At pre-school/playgroup [whichever word ds knows it as] we have circle-time.

We sit on the carpet [or again whatever the pre-school does] together.

Sometimes we sing songs.

Sometimes we listen to a story.

At circle-time I try to sit nicely [optional depending on whether this is relevant to what you want for ds]

Circle-time is fun. [or again whatever word you want to use]

macwoozy · 04/01/2006 16:40

That's what I do. I use a photo for each page, and just one sentence to describe each part, to make it as simple as poss. It would be great if you could take photos of the circle area, where they are expected to sit, the teachers involved etc.
Mrs F directed me to this site, it might be of some help to get a few ideas. Sorry can't do links.

coppertop · 04/01/2006 16:42

Carol Gray's site

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 16:48

"At circle-time I try to sit nicely [optional depending on whether this is relevant to what you want for ds]" Oh yes, it's relevant tryingt o sit nicely is exactly what we want for DS.

"Circle-time is fun. [or again whatever word you want to use]" Fun? Pretty sure DS1 doesn't identify it as fun. Not sure what I can claim it is, though.

OP posts:
coppertop · 04/01/2006 16:51

To be honest circle-time is my idea of absolute hell! Surrounded by squawking 3 and 4yr-olds all singing noisily out of tune while they pick their noses. No wonder my ds2 runs away!

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 16:58

That really doesn't help, CT "At circle time I try to sit nicely. Circle time is absolute hell" is unlikely to inspire a significant improvement of DS1's understnad of or co-operation with circle time.

WTF is circle time for?

OP posts:
coppertop · 04/01/2006 17:27

Circle-time is a hideous punishment inflicted on children and staff. I can't believe that the staff would willingly attempt to round up 20-30 pre-schoolers and then try to keep them on a piece of carpet without the use of cattle-prods, gags or ropes.

Probably best to miss out the bit about how it's supposed to be fun.

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 19:22

but all the other children do sit there nicely. No cattle prods involved.
That's the problem.
If DS1 were the only one who was a bit non-conforming at circle time, they wouldn't do it.

OP posts:
Littlefish · 04/01/2006 19:35

I can absolutely guarantee that your DS is not the only one who needs a little help to sit down and join in during circle time! I teach reception and we have children who find it very hard to sit and listen and they are probably at least 1.5 years old then your ds!

In our nursery circle time is just used as a way of gathering the children together at the start of a session - we sing a song, count how many children are there, spend a minute talking about what we're doing that day and that's it! Max 3-5 minutes and probably even shorter than this at the beginning of the year.

getbakainyourjimjams · 04/01/2006 19:36

Have they given him a carpet square or even a little seat to sit on? It makes circle time far easier for children with SN. Since moving to special school ds1 has learned to sit well for circle time- the nice thing about it is (assuming it is pitched at your child's level) once they are siiting down they can start to listen and learn. But they have to get the sitting down sorted first.

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 19:45

I'm a bit hazy on the details but they sit on a carpet for registration at the start, which he manages as he sits on his 1:1's lap.

In the middle of the session they have story time on the carpet, which is fine as he loves stories (think he also sits on 1:1's lap again)

At the end of the session they have circle time sitting on little chairs. It includes some singing, possibly an activity, and show-and-tell which involves about 4-5 kids (1 at a time) walking round with whatever item they've brought in that day. It's interminable. Apparently "DS1 looses interest quickly" (well, I would too) and wanders off or attacks the child with the s&t item. He's OK when going round with his item, although he often doesn't own up to whatever item he's put in the box for show and tell, so I've taken to naming them. There are about 12 children.

The Ed Psych had 'write social story to improve behaviour at circle time' as an action item for me, so she clearly felt it was an issue.

OP posts:
SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 19:47

Any suggestions Jimjams and others would be welcome, as I'd love to help preschool deal with and / or feel more comfortable about his non-conformance.

OP posts:
Saker · 04/01/2006 19:55

My Ds2 just finished preschool and sounded very similar in his behaviour in that he would sit beautifully for stories and usually for songs in his case but got bored in the registration bit and when there was too much talking. I have to say (having sat in on some sessions) that the other kids were by no means perfect as you would expect for that age group, but Ds2's "bad" behaviour was different in that he would lie on the floor or make a lot of noise protesting or talking about other things.

The way Ds2's preschool dealt with it was either to allow his 1:1 to look at a book quietly with him whilst sitting in the circle or to take him out and spend the time doing a more constructive activity for him. I know some would argue that this wasn't teaching him to join in circle time but at such a young age I don't feel it is top of my list of priorities. It is hard for a child to learn to act properly in a group until they have mastered a lot of other social skills and forcing them to stay there doesn't really achieve anything.

Oh and we also found that giving him something to hold (he often took a toy animal) helped him to sit.

getbakainyourjimjams · 04/01/2006 19:59

Hmm I would say that writing the bloody social story should be an ed psychs job. Especially as she/he could observe circle time and see where help is needed. Why are you meant to be the expert? We've never used social stories (ds1 is non- verbal so can't use them), but everone I know who has used them has had them written by the pros (unless its something they've identified as a problem to tackle independently at home).

I don't know how they got him to sit at school. I've watched them with him in assembly and they just seem to start by saying sit down a lot to be honest, then rewarding when he sat down. Once he knew the routine he was generally happy to comply (although still needs constant reminders). Although this is a class of 5 with 3 trained staff. It was a different story in mainstream school.

I can ask his ex nursery teacher what they did as I think he was quite compliant at ms nursery as well - it was just ms school it went pear shaped.

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 20:02

Thanks Saker, v. useful.

I'll suggest he holds something during circle time, and that they ask him to stay there for some part of it, before doing something more suitable ("please miss, may I be excused show-and-tell"). And make sure he's sitting on / right next to 1:1. I think he is picking it up, so I don't want to let him off the hook completely.

As you say, SAker, his bad behaviour is different. If he can learn to tolerate it before starting school it would help, as if he starts acting up in school he needs different management than other kids and I can see a downward spiral.

OP posts:
SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 20:08

Jimjams - is it really that hard to do? I was planning to ask preschool for more details of circle time and to take some photos for me, then give it a go to show willing and include personal photos and then send it to EP to see what she thought. Really want her proactive and on side as we look towards choosing and using ms primary school, so was happy to demonstrate what an involved parent I am.

DS1 is very into stories and so I can imagine making a little book for him could be very useful. he has a couple of little books that have been made for him with personal photos and he loves them.

OP posts:
getbakainyourjimjams · 04/01/2006 20:16

Hmm I was an involved parent in ms- spent half my time making materials for them, books, timetables, sending in behaviour plans, runing around accompanying him here there and everywhere, keeping him home when his LSA was off sick. Part time school for 3 terms. Now he's in special school I don;t do any of that- the school support me- send me stuff home to help us at home, make appointments for us, chase up other professionals for us and deal with him, and he learns! It's only since seeing the other side that I think I must have been mad to have done everything I did.

I think all these things are time consuming and its the equivalent of asking a mainstream parent to go away research how they are teaching reading and make up a bunch of flash cards. If they have a problem in nursery, and the ed psych wants social stories made I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask you for photos and ideas, but she should be putting the time into make the books, laminate the piccies, type it out with symbols etc.

My friend;s with HFA children use social stories. In their case they have always been made by the autism outreach team (who did ds1 a "my new school" book when he switched to special.

getbakainyourjimjams · 04/01/2006 20:17

You won't have any problems getting a ms place btw. If you say you want ms you'll get it.

SqueakyCat · 04/01/2006 20:42

hmm ... maybe I'm being a mug and should bounce it back to EP. I'll gather info and piccies. Thought it would work for him, so was happy to have a go so I could do it for other things too.

It's the right support at ms I want, not the ms place itself. I'm hoping the SLD school won't suit. Am off there for a look round in 2 weeks time.

OP posts:
coppertop · 04/01/2006 20:52

Ds2 generally sits on someone's lap while they're on a chair during carpet-time. He sometimes tolerates the carpet but not always.

The carpet-tile/cushion is a good idea. Ds1 is in a ms school and very high-functioning but has a small cushion to sit on at carpet-time. He doesn't like being crowded by other children sitting too close. He's fine without it in assembly though. I think it's because assembly has more of a structure to it.

I agree about the pros writing the social stories. The SALT writes ds1's for him. Even though he no longer needs to see her she still liases with the school with this kind of thing. She's also ds2's SALT which helps as it also means that I can ask her directly about what ds1 needs etc.

Saker · 04/01/2006 21:15

CT at SALT writing social stories for you. It was all ours could do to turn up with a full set of lotto cards.

Preschool actually made Ds2 a book full of photos going right through his session of preschool from when I took him in to when I picked him up. He loved it and it was useful in getting in back into the idea of preschool after holidays. I have to say I have done a lot of that type of thing myself - for example every weekend I took pictures of our activities and sent them in with Ds2 for him to talk about. I have never had any professional except my lovely portage worker offer to do anything like that. Maybe it will all change as Ds2 starts in a special unit tomorrow.


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LizLocket · 04/01/2006 21:49

My four year old has problems sitting still for long at circletime too. He genuinely finds it hard especially if they are doing an activity he can't relate too. Long complicated stories are things he find aprticularly difficult.

His nursery have dealt with it differently. One of his IEP goals is for him to participate in CT for a short period of time say a couple of minutes in an activity he can manage. He sometimes gets given something to fiddle with too. When they have stories they read a simple story initially that he can follow and then he can get up and do a different activity whilst the children who want to listen to a longer story remain in the circle. Gradually we are trying to build up his concentration span and ability to sit still.

I know this is going to be an issue when he starts school but on the other hand I think it is cruel to make him sit still in a situation that he finds difficult for the sake of comforming. Am hoping the approach nursery is using is a half way measure

Liz x

MrsFrostgetful · 05/01/2006 11:10

squeaky....just briefly read this...and can see what you mean about the social story seeming to state silly stuff like 'circle time is fun'...

where that is coming from i think is the idea that a social story is to provide 'alternative' thinking and often 'coping strategies'...and REWARDS....BUT aiming to tweak 'inappropriate behaviour' towards 'acceptable'

so i would do it something like this....


.....We have SNACKS (picture of her fav snack)
.....We RUN around

Sometimes we have to SIT QUIETLY

When we sit on the carpet we call it CIRCLE TIME
At cIRCLE TIME we listen to STORIES
We sing Songs
We play games

We do FUN things at CIRCLE TIME (rather than saying IT IS FUN!!!)

(now describe the 'ideal behaviour'....
At CIRCLE TIME we (sit on a cushion???) (cross our legs????) we (fold our arms?????) etc etc etc (try to build a picture of what they need her to do...and be very specific... i even sat on the floor demonstrating to my son exactly what SITTING NICELY IN CIRCLE TIME was all about!!!)

the describe the consequence of GOOD

When i sit quietly my teacher is HAPPY
She says WELL DONE to me anmd SMILES (you need the nursery to DO THEIR BIT...your DD WILL NEED RECOGNOTION...even for if she manages 1 minute (or even 10 seconds!!!)


I have done well!!!

After circle toime we ......PLAY...go lunch etc (show her there is an END to circle time!!!!)

Basically what you aim for with a social story is to almost STATE what is SOCIALY accpeted...kind of scripting your child so when ever they are in THAT situation they go into 'automatic pilot'

for her age use as many pictures that you can....let her help choose she feels part of it...

maybe if you canlaminate some can stick velcro on the back and get her to stick them on a felt covered board....

along the lines state the FIRST sentance of the social stories...and she sticks up the picture.... she will then 'link' the VERBAL with the VISUAL (as she won't yet be reading and writing!!!!!)

hope i make sense!!!

when you write the STORY...just make it like INSTRUCTIONS/description of a PERFECT CIRCLE TIME EXPERIENCE !!!!! Idea being she will then expect it to be that way...and then as she moves on you can adapt the story to help her cope with
"what to do if someones does this or that....etc"

(cos obviously to start with you are just trying to get her to get through a PERFECT circle time...and we all know that that's easy on paper...but in real life there are other kids which are bound to distrract her....and maybe sounds/smells etc..

so take it in stages....agree a time limit for her with nursery...they have to be expect ANY pre schooler to sit for more than 5 mins is hard...and if they have a SN ...even 1 minute may be all she is capable of at this age.... and it is up to the nursery to PRAISE her for what she IS managing (no matter how small)...and then they 'strtch it' by a little if they can till she is managing the whole circle time.....

sorry to rant on...but i have 2 with asperger's and one to be diagnosed...and all 3 have struggles with any form of 'regimented' seating on carpets assemblies are awful too... so whilst i know that in the real world they are expected to CONFORM... i also accept that they have their limits to tolerance....and that is part of their SN cannot be TOTALLY stopped!

MrsFrostgetful · 05/01/2006 11:12


just read what you said about the FIDDLE TOY...that is another excellent strategy...i actually stiched clothing labels into my son's pockets in preschool/recption class that he could 'discreetly' fiddle with them in his pockets!

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