How are Success Stories Like Social Stories?
There are several organizations and websites that provide stories called social stories. After looking through all of the available information, it may seem cumbersome to sort out the similarities and differences between the different social stories. This is a comparison of four organizations (The Gray Center, SocialStories.com, Autism Inspiration, and Polyxo.com) who each call their stories, social stories. After reviewing each organization’s social stories, we found all of the social stories had two major similarities: 1.) all of these social stories focus on topics that are often difficult tasks and social situations for children and 2.) all of these social stories break down a task or social situation into smaller steps. However, there were some differences in the features of each social story. Below is a brief overview of the differences by organization.
The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding
The Gray Center offers a wide variety of publications focusing on autism and related disabilities including information on how to write social stories in the Carol Gray format, as well as, sample stories and books on social stories by Carol Gray. Carol Gray, who first used the phrase “social stories”, recommends Social Stories be written specifically for each child based on their individualized needs. Carol Gray also recommends that Social Stories keep in mind the ability, age level, and skills of the child. In teaching people how to write Social Stories, Carol Gray uses specific ratios of four different types of sentences: descriptive, perspective, directive, and control and she stresses unique Social Stories for each child.
The social stories books on SocialStories.com are not personalized for each child. Their social stories have set text and images, but unlike other social stories, their social stories use photographs instead of illustrations.
Autism Inspiration is a site that also offers pre-made social stories. Their social stories do not have personalized text and images. Unlike other social stories, Autism Inspiration’s social stories are not illustrated and do not include photographs. Instead, their social stories use clip art images to support the text.
Polyxo.com is a site that addresses a variety of methods for working with children with autism and provides ideas for implementing strategies. Polyxo.com’s social stories provide a story template using the same four sentence types Carol Gray suggests (descriptive, perspective, directive, and control). There is a pre-written story with areas to fill in personal information for each child. Their social stories do not have pictures or illustrations. These have to be provided by the user. Although Polyxo.com provides social story templates, they mention the templates are to help guide people in writing their own social stories and that the social stories may need to be changed to address each child’s needs.
The Sandbox Learning Company
Like the stories listed above, The Sandbox Learning Company’s Success Stories also focus on topics typically difficult for children and break down a task or social situation into smaller steps. However, instead of writing stories in specific ratios, Success Stories focus on the social, safety, behavioral, or daily living skills addressed in the story. Since many skills and behaviors are a universal concern for parents and professionals some of the text is standard while other areas of the text allow for customization. Some Success Stories include very child specific information. For example, the book Feeling Frustrated includes a customizable line on what is frustrating specifically for the child as well as an individualized coping strategy. The book, Feeling Scared, also includes a customizable line on what is scary specifically for the child as well as an individualized coping strategy.
In addition to personalizing areas of the text, the illustrations in the story can be personalized to look like the child. (Click HERE to Try) This is meant to make the child feel special and to engage them in the story. Kimberly Powers, a special education teacher in Gwinnett County, GA said, “Having the Sandbox Learning Company’s customized stories adds a ton because the kids can really make a connection. It makes them feel special and helps them get the materials better. They loved it! They thought it was the neatest thing ever!” (Click HERE for More Testimonials)
Unlike social stories, Success Stories frequently are used for young children without disabilities since the topics are important for all children to learn. Everyone likes to feel special and creating personalized books for any child is a way for parents, teachers, and therapists to make them feel special.