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Social Stories. Incorporating Social Stories into Pretend Play. What is a Social Story ?. Individualized short stories Help a child interpret information/situations Help a child to plan the steps of an activity. Background. Created by Carol Gray in 1991.

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Social stories
Social Stories


Social Stories


Pretend Play

What is a social story
What is a Social Story?

  • Individualized short stories

  • Help a child interpret information/situations

  • Help a child to plan the steps of an activity


Created by Carol Gray in 1991

Social stories can be used with
Social Stories can be used with….

  • Everyone!

  • Most commonly used with Children with Autism.

  • Also beneficial for children with social disabilities, bilingual students, typically developing students, students needing PT/OT, students with a speech delay, children with ADHD/ADD, children with OCD, adults with autism, etc.

Theory of mind
Theory of Mind

  • Impairment in perspective/social understanding (hard time seeing things from any other perspective than their own and difficulty in certain social situations)

  • Have difficulty with understanding another person's beliefs, thoughts, point of view.

  • Difficulty determining the intentions of others and how their behavior affects others

  • Social situations are unpredictable which can lead to withdrawl and isolation from social situations

  • Also known as mind blindness

  • Simon Baron-Cohen, Alan M. Leslie and Uta Frith, in 1985, published research that suggested that children with autism do not employ a theory of mind

  • According to Leslie, theory of mind plays a role in the deficits children with autism have with childhood pretend play because it effects their capacity to mentally represent thoughts, beliefs, and desires, regardless of whether or not the circumstances involved are real.


  • Describes social cues

  • Improves social skills and prepares the child/adult for new social situations

  • Breaks down a challenging social situation into steps

  • Helps a child to understand rules and routines and become familiar with the situation

  • Breaks down a pretend play activity to outline the steps in performing the activity through text and pictures

  • Increases appropriate responding

  • Increases social understanding

  • Provides the child with the self-esteem and confidence to participate in an activity.

  • Prompts socially appropriate behavior

  • Presents information in a clear, concise, and consistent manner with accurate and structured information on what is happening

When to use social stories
When To Use Social Stories

The ways in which social stories can be used is endless. A creative teacher can use them to teach just about anything.

Examples of social story topics

Brushing teeth

Washing hands

Playing with a friend

Taking turns

Sharing a toy

Greeting friends

Joining a social activity

Joining a conversation

Pretend Play

Playing board games

Preparing for a sleepover

Going to the supermarket

Preparing for a trip

Going on an airplane

Taking a bus

Expressing frustration

Asking for a break

Using the bathroom

Going to the doctor

Playing with a sibling

What to do when someone pushes you

Eye contact

waiting my turn


Figures of speech

Asking questions

Calling out

Voice control


Putting away laundry

Making a sandwich

Going to a birthday party

Getting your period

Getting dressed


Going to the movies

Sitting appropriately

Playing soccer (or another sport)

Being polite


Doing homework

Understanding emotions

Saying sorry

Keeping hands to yourself

Walking appropriately

Eating at the table

Watching TV

Standing too close

Using deodorant

Tying shoes

Cleaning my room

Picking my nose

Brushing my teeth

Taking a bath

Getting a haircut

Saying I Love you


Examples Of Social Story Topics

Types of social stories
Types of Social Stories

  • Books

    Read the story and discuss/act out

  • Interactive

    Perform actions and complete certain tasks in the story, while reading, in order to learn a skill

Creating social stories
Creating Social Stories

  • Decide your audience/type of learner

  • What Skill(s) would you like to address

  • What Sentence structure do you want to use

  • How will you evaluate its effectiveness/fade it out

Sentence structure format
Sentence Structure/Format

  • Simple language

  • Simple and consistent pictures

  • 1 step per page

Sentence structure
Sentence Structure

  • Descriptive Sentences objective, most frequently used (WHAT)

  • Perspective sentences statements that describe something from someone else's viewpoint (WHY)

  • Cooperative sentences describe how another person will help the student

  • Directive sentences help the reader to identify a suggested/appropriate response or choice in a particular situation (PROMPTS THE BEHAVIOR)

  • Affirmative sentences express a commonly shared opinion

  • Control sentences are statements written by the student to identify personal strategies for handling a situation

Fading out
Fading out

  • It is important to fade out a social story gradually as the child becomes knowledgeable in the skill area

  • Decreases prompt dependency

  • In addition the social story should be used across many situations/people in order for the child to generalize the skills taught in the story to other people/situations

I love to pretend social stories
I Love to Pretend! Social Stories

By Ellen Viola Thalhamer III

About the books
About the books:

“I’m a Daddy” and “Let’s Play Doctor” are social story books that were created in order to teach children with autism how to pretend play. For children who are learning to pretend play and socially interact with their peers, these books will be helpful in guiding them through the motions of pretending to be a daddy or a doctor. For those parents/teachers who focus on generalization, and receptive and expressive language, real life pictures associated with the stories have been added to the back of the books.

Book information
Book Information:

  • Website:

  • Email:


  • Baron-Cohen S, Leslie AM, Frith U (1985). "Does the autistic child have a 'theory of mind'?" (PDF). Cognition21 (1): 37–46. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(85)90022-8. PMID2934210. Retrieved 2008-02-16.

  • Leslie, A. M. (1991). Theory of mind impairment in autism. In A. Whiten, Ed., Natural theories of mind: Evolution, development, and simulation of everyday mind reading. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.

  • Thalhamer III, Ellen Viola. I Love to Pretend! I’m a Daddy. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House, 2010.

  • Thalhamer III, Ellen Viola. I Love to Pretend! Let’s Play Doctor. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House, 2010.

  • The Gray Center. (unknown). Carol Gray. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding:

  • Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2010, September 27). Social Stories. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from Wikipedia The free Encyclopedia:

  • Wallin, Jason. (2004). Social Studies. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from Teaching Children with Autism: