Autism support-Creating Social Stories for everyday communication

Social Stories are useful to assist autistic students to become familiar with interactions in their everyday conversations with friends and family.

Below is a social story developed with an autistic student to practice saying with a teenage friend. The autistic student can watch the video via his or her ipad on the website any number of times to learn and familiarise himself/herself with the script in the interaction, thus freeing up time that others may have needed to invest to assist him/her to practice the scripts. However, it is still important and necessary to rehearse the social skill scripts with real live people as well, as the script being developed needs to eventually become integrated into that autistic students everyday activities in order to make it functional, practical and having the end goal of impacting their lives…for them being able to interact and communicate their needs.
Time also needs to be invested with the autistic student into practice and rehearsal for this process to occur. This is especially so for students who are autistic as they need assistance in coming up with the ‘first idea’ to then be able to generate the language associated with that thought. Then they need the assistance to frame the sequence of sentences that cascade down from that particular interaction.
…and we thought speaking was simple!
Take a look at the "structuring thinking with the ipad calendar" for strategies of how to assist this process.
A sleep over at my house by Phonic Allstars on GoAnimate

The sleep over
Una: Hi Charlotte.
Charlotte: Hi Una, how are you today?
Una: I am feeling happy today because my mum said I can have a sleep over.
Charlotte: Really? Cool!
Una: Mum said I can invite a friend to sleep over. I was hoping it could be you.
Charotte: Oh!! That would be great. I will ask my mum tonight.
When will the sleep over be?
Una: This Saturday night starting at 5 o’clock.
Charlotte: What do I need to bring to your house?
Una: You can bring your pyjama’s, pillow and your favourite teddy bear.
Hey! Maybe we can make it a teddy bear tea party.
Charlotte: We could have a teddy bear tea party.
Una: …and a teddy bear fashion parade.
Charlotte: I can’t wait until Saturday . That sounds amazing.

Autistic students need assistance to learn when to use the sentences and social script in their day and this will need to be completely automated with practice and then sculpted into the rigid routine and structure of their everyday activities. Autistic students demonstrate "echolalia" which is repeating spoken information like "parroting" but may not necessarily comprehend the information for mean. It is often a goal of therapy to try to minimise these echolalic speech characteristics for the autistic student, however, using this approach our goal is to maximise the benefits of this natural ability to somewhat program the necessary utterances and then cognitively attach them to routines in their familiar environment. The stable repetitive routine in their lives is paramount as they need a solid frame for their ideas to be built around. The ipad calendar can be used for this purpose. Using the go animate tool to create the video enables replication and duplication, especially for students who have multiple goals and limited budget to spend on professionals and the human resources to enable the stages of practice and rehearsal to be achieved.
Click on the play button for the cartoon to listen and watch the social story about inviting a friend to a sleep over. The voices are created in the computer, however we can also plug in a microphone and generate a human voice which is essential when working with people with autism. Follow the links to the next page to explore lots of social story scripts being built to support a teenager with autism in her life in various settings. Each page also captures the go animate scripts and the text to support the student to read the words. This is useful given that some autistic individuals have well developed skills with reading…however may need significant support in comprehending what they are reading.

Go animate is accessible as a free tool and is easy to use by following the prompts. You just register and get started. If you want more characters and the ability to create increasingly diverse cartoons with props and multiple characters then you can upgrade for goanimate pro which does have a subscription fee but is worth the buck if you use the tool like I do with my students. The first step is to develop the script you want to create with your student around their communication need. I do this on paper first, then work with the student to type in the script together. It is more beneficial that the autistic student is involved in the process of developing the script with you. One thing I have learned about working with children, teenagers and adults with autism…they never fail to surprise me in regards to what they are taking in-even when you think they are not paying attention or not comprehending speech.

A second step to this process may be to record "real life voices" speaking for the characters that enable a more human quality for the student to mimic.

A third step can be to remove the second interaction partners utterance and record a blank space of sound so there is then a space for the student to practice their part of the scripts.

The fourth step is integration in a real life scenario which will need to be staged at first and then can be integrated into that students daily routine.

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