My name is Leanne — I’m 23 years old and I have Asperger’s syndrome. I have heard that social stories help lot of kids (and maybe even adults) on the autism spectrum to be better able to handle transitions, upcoming events, and activities that most children (and adults) are able to handle easily. I remember during one of my speech therapy sessions in high school when we made a social story for another kid in the same session about moving to a new home (even though he was still going to go to our school).
That kid was also on the milder end of the spectrum. I would like to share some social stories with other people as I know they can make a big difference in transitioning:
Example #1: My Friend is Coming Over
- My friend is coming over to my house on (day). That is OK.
- My friend will come at (time). My friend will go home at (time). It might be a few minutes earlier or a few minutes later. This is OK.
- My friend and I will take turns deciding what to do while she or he is with me. This means that my friend will decide what to do, and then I will decide what to do when that activity is finished. When the activity I want to do is finished, my friend will decide again.
- If there are any toys, games, or activities I don’t want my friend to play with, I will talk to my parent/guardian about it before my friend comes over, and we will put those toys, games, or activities away until my friend leaves. I do not need to tell my friend my reasons for putting those things away.
- I will be nice to my friend during the whole time she or he is with me.
- If I feel like I need a break, I will say to my friend, “Is it OK if I take a break?”
- If my friend wants me to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable, I will say no, and tell an adult.
- I will have a good time with my friend until she or he goes home.
Example #2: Riding The School Bus
- When I go to school in (month), I will ride the school bus. That is OK.
- Here are some pictures of school buses (add whichever ones you find that you like).
- I might feel nervous, excited, or other things about riding the school bus. It is OK to feel this way about riding the school bus for the first time. A lot of other kids feel this way about riding the school bus for the first time.
- My bus will probably say the name of my school district or the bus company on it. That is OK.
- My bus will probably have a number on it. That is OK. This is so that I can find my bus more easily when I come home at the end of the school day, and my bus driver can find the bus he or she drives.
- I will get on the bus at (place).
- The bus will come to my stop at (time). It might be a few minutes earlier or a few minutes later. If the bus is more than (amount of time) late, an adult will call the bus garage.
- When the bus’ yellow lights turn on, that means it is going to be time for me to get on soon.
- When the bus’ red lights turn on and the bus’ stop sign comes out, it is OK for me to get on. If the bus does not have a stop sign, I may get on when the red lights turn on.
- It is good to look for cars if the bus is on the other side of the road.
- When I get on the bus, I will say hello to the bus driver.
- My bus driver might assign a seat for me. Assigned seat means that I will sit in that seat on the bus. If the bus driver has assigned seats, I will sit where I see my name or where the bus driver has told me to sit.
- If the bus driver does not have assigned seats, I will sit in the first available seat I find. My bus driver might like the younger kids on the bus to sit toward the front. If my bus driver says younger kids should sit toward the front of the bus, I will sit there.
- If there are no available seats, it is OK to sit with another kid my age on the bus. I will ask that kid if it is OK if I sit with him or her. It is OK if she or he does not want me to sit with him or her. That does not mean he or she does not like me. He or she might want to sit alone or with other kids
- It is also OK to ask another kid my age to sit with me on the bus. I will say, “Would you like to sit with me?” It is OK if he or she does not want to sit with me. That does not mean he or she does not like me. He or she might want to sit alone or with other kids.
- The bus might pick up kids at other stops after mine. That is OK. My stop might be the last stop. That is OK too.
- The bus might pick up kids at other stops before mine. That is OK. My stop might be the first stop. That is OK too.
- If anyone on the bus does anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, it is good to tell the bus driver what that person does that makes me feel uncomfortable. It is also good to tell my parents/guardians what that person does that makes me uncomfortable.
- If anyone on the bus wants me to do anything that makes me uncomfortable, it is good to say no, and tell the bus driver. It is also good to tell my parent or guardian.
- Here are some things I may do when I am on the bus:
- – Listen to music on headphones
- – Play a handheld video game quietly
- – Read
- – Talk to other kids
- Here are some rules that I must follow when I ride the school bus:
- – I use my indoor voice
- – I sit in my seat (unless the bus is stopped at school or my stop or it is an emergency).
- – I do not eat or drink on the bus (unless the bus driver says it is OK).
- – I will be nice to the bus driver and the other kids on the bus.
- – I will be riding the bus all the way to school, and so will the other kids on my bus.
Example #3: Starting Middle School
- I will be starting middle school in (month). This is OK. Middle school is the school years between elementary school and high school.
- I might feel nervous, excited, or other things about starting middle school. It is OK to feel this way about starting middle school. A lot of children feel this way about starting middle school.
- When I was in elementary school, I was in the same classroom with the same teacher and the same classmates for most of the school day. When I go to middle school, I will probably have different teachers and classmates at different times of the day. I will probably also be in different classrooms at different times of the day.
- Before I start middle school, I will need to get a list of school supplies from each of my teachers.
- If the middle school I will be going to will allow me to practice using my class schedule, it is good to do it. This means that I will go to the school before the school year starts, and go from one classroom to the next. If the middle school I will be going to will not allow me to do this, nobody will expect me to know my way around the school at first. That is OK.
- If I need help finding a room, it is good to ask a teacher, school staff member, or older kid to help me find the room I am looking for.
- I will need to be more independent in middle school than I did in elementary school.
- The schoolwork will be harder in middle school than it was in elementary school. I will probably have more homework and more tests. That is OK. If I need help with an assignment or task, it is good to ask a teacher or my aide (if your child has one) for help. If I need help with an assignment or task at home, it is good to ask a parent or guardian for help. Asking for help does not mean that I’m dumb or that I’m not as good as my classmates. A lot of kids need help with schoolwork.
- Many of my teachers in middle school will allow students to stay at school with them after the school day is over to work on homework or study for tests. This is OK. This way, teachers can give more help to students who need it.
- I will probably have a study hall or resource room. Study hall is the time during the school day when I study and work on homework or other school assignments that need to be done. Resource room is like study hall, except that the teacher in the room helps my classmates and me out more.
- When I was in elementary school, the adults and older kids in my life were pretty consistent with following and enforcing rules. This was OK. This was because my classmates and I needed that much consistency.
- When I go to middle school, I might notice that the adults and older kids in my life are more flexible with rules. This is OK. This is because most kids this age are more flexible with rules. Some of my teachers and other school staff members might not understand that this is still very difficult for me.
- I might feel like certain rules don’t apply to certain students. It is OK to feel this way.
- If I feel like a teacher or another school staff member has broken (or allowed someone else to break) a rule or code of behavior, it is good to ask that person why he or she did it. I can say, “(name of teacher or school staff member), I noticed that (situation or action). What was your reason for that?”
- If I do not feel comfortable talking to that teacher or school staff member, I may leave a note on his or her desk or in his or her school mailbox asking the question I want to ask. I may also send this teacher or school staff member an Email asking him or her about the situation.
- It is also OK for me to talk about the situation with a school psychologist, guidance counselor, or anyone else whose job is to make sure I feel safe and comfortable at school.
- When I go to middle school, I might find myself growing apart from my friends from elementary school. This is OK. This is normal. This does not mean that my elementary school friends do not like me anymore, it just means they want to spend more time with other friends. It is good to join school sports or other extracurricular activities that interest me. That way I can meet kids who have interests that are similar to my interests.
Leanne Strong was born in late June of 1993, in Rochester, NY. She was her parents’ firstborn child. Around age two or so, right after Leanne’s brother was born, her parents noticed that something was different about her. They took her to a special doctor in Rochester, NY who specializes in neurological disorders. Leanne was then diagnosed with a language disorder. After further testing, she was diagnosed with a form of autism that was then called PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). Leanne’s parents felt that their daughter met more of the criteria for Asperger’s syndrome. She was an early talker, and most of her early cognitive milestones were within normal limits. When Leanne was 15, almost 16, her parents took her to another doctor at the same place where she had gone for her original evaluation, and that doctor agreed that Leanne met enough criteria for an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis. Leanne now wants to shed some light on how to help other people on the autism spectrum.
This article was featured in Issue 52 – Celebrating the Voices of Autism