Posts Tagged ‘autistic person’

Teach essential hygiene skills to an autistic child

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Probably one of the most basic yet essential life skills is hygiene, from going to the toilet to eating habits, hygiene is essential for everyone.


Typically developing children will by the age of 5 – 6 be able to use basic hygiene skills like taking themselves to the toilet, washing their hands, brushing their teeth and so on.


But for children with autism hygiene can be a confusing and stressful skill to master. Common to autism are social skills deficits and sensory processing issues, making even basic skills like washing your teeth uncomfortable for a child on the spectrum.,


It is not uncommon for a child on the spectrum to be six years old before they master using the toilet, this of cause can lead to further problems. While your average three year old child can still fit into nappies it is not so easy to find nappies for your six year old child. Plus if your child with ASD is already attending school, soiling themselves can attract negative attention from their peers.

For many parents knowing how to teach essential hygiene skills to an autistic child is frustrating, a lack of support and information can be a hindrance. However as with other social skills hygiene habits and routines can be taught effectively using intervention strategies such as social skills stories.

What are intervention strategies and how can they be implemented?

Intervention strategies are used to help children with autism, they are resources and methods which can be put into practise to help the child on the spectrum learn or cope with a situation, lesson, activity or skill that they are struggling to master.

Parents needing support and methods on how to teach essential hygiene skills to an autistic child can use intervention strategies designed to help with this issue. Strategies such as PECS, flash cards, mini schedules and Social Skills Stories are useful intervention strategies which can help do just that.


For the vast majority of children with autism learning is done visually, therefore any visual strategies chosen need to be visual. Visual strategies such as social skills stories are perfect for introducing new skills, brushing up on existing skills and as gentle reminders of already learnt skills, changes to routine, transitions and as guides to help with situations or activities the child on the spectrum does not understand.


For children with ASD sensory processing issues can make hygiene difficult, social skills stories can ease some of the tension many children with ASD feel when confronted with a hygiene task they are not comfortable with like for example brushing your teeth, or getting a haircut even.


Social stories explain visually the “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as “how” and give an insight into the thoughts feelings and emotions of others, plus detail the consequence of for example not brushing your teeth etc.


Visually rich, using first person text and always from the point of view of the autistic person, a social skills story should be short and concise much like a visual plan or role model of the skill or situation the autistic person can understand.


The social story should be printable for convenience and editable, no two people are ever the same and we all use different terminology, therefore some social stories need to be tweaked to make them suitable for individuals.


To learn more about social skills stories and how they may benefit your autistic child or young person visit:


Other social skills stories for your autistic child can be found at:

Social skills stories as a strategy for teaching social and communication skills

Monday, October 18th, 2010

What are Social Skills Stories?

Social skills stories are designed and written following a set pattern of sentence types and visual images to describe a situation or skill using appropriate social cues.

A social skills story should describe what happens in a specific social situation in a structured and consistent manner.

Generally autistic individuals are visual thinkers and learners, meaning they think in pictures. Consequently, an appropriate social skills story should be visual, the vast majority of autistic individuals respond better to visual information and instruction.

Social skills stories are visual strategies using images and appropriate first person text. Each social skills story should be written from the ASD individual’s point of view.

The social story answers the “wh” questions (who, why, where. when and what) as well as giving an insight into the emotions and thoughts of others. The social story acts like a role model showing autistic individuals visually how to behave in a socially acceptable way.

Using social skills stories as a strategy for teaching social and communication skills

The goal of any social skills story should be:

  • To provide ASD individual’s with social cues for situations or skills.
  • To help the autistic person rehearse a situation, and to respond appropriately
  • To help prepare the autistic person for routine changes or new experiences.
  • To reduce negative behaviour.
  • To help reduce social blunders caused through lack of social understanding.
  • To help address any communication difficulties

Therefore using social skills stories as a strategy for teaching social and communication skills is beneficial.

Social skills stories are visual strategies that address communication difficulties and provide a visual framework or plan which reduces stress and anxiety as well as giving the ASD individual a chance to rehearse appropriate responses.

Social skills stories work because

They address the “theory of mind”. Many individuals with autism do not act appropriately in social situations, simply because they do not understand that others might have a different opinion to them.

Many individuals with autism fail to understand verbal and nonverbal communications such as wit and humour, or that others may have different opinions, wants and needs to them.

Consequently communication difficulties are common for an ASD individual and social situations can become unpredictable and confusing.

Social skills stories help people with autism read situations and skills better and therefore react and act appropriately.

To learn more about what are social skills stories? And how people with autism can benefit from using these visual strategies to help them address communication difficulties as well as social skills and behaviours visit:

How to teach social skills to autistic children

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Social skills are learnt naturally through socialization, we watch people and learn through experience, our environment, peers and families.


The ability to learn social skills naturally is missing in autistic children and therefore they need to learn social skills directly through supports, like for example social skills stories.


Social skills stories show us how to teach social skills to autistic children, such as holding a conversation, understanding nick names, sharing, respecting personal space, taking turns and so on.

Social stories teach the autistic person both verbal and nonverbal communication skills and behaviours which will help them act appropriately in social situations. For example social skills stories teach social skills to individuals on the spectrum such as waving goodbye, saying hello, lining up, in school assembly, whilst out shopping and so on.

Individuals on the spectrum do not read subtle cues contained in social interactions, such as how to tell when someone wants to change the topic of conversation or shift to another activity.

By teaching the autistic person to read social cues you will provide them with the knowledge to determine how to act in various situations or why to perform certain skills such as good hygiene habits or visiting the dentist.

Consequently, many parents looking at methods on how to teach social skills to autistic children turn to autistic supports such as social stories as a means of not only teaching social skills but as a means of communicating also.

Social stories answer the important “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as giving an insight into verbal and nonverbal communication, plus an insight into the thoughts, feelings and emotions of others.

Using social stories as a strategy to teach an autistic child social and communication skills is beneficial. Research shows social stories as a strategy improves positive behaviours and reduces negative behaviours and anxiety.

To learn more about social stories as a strategy visit: and learn how to teach social skills to autistic children using these autistic supports. Easy to use and with no need for any kind of training to use social stories are printable, editable and can be personalized for convenience and ease of use.

Alternativelly social stories can be found at any of the following sites:

Managing Your Autistic Child’s Behavior.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

How do you help your Autistic child deal with difficult and everyday situations?

Autism is a complex disorder, which affects mainly boys. There is no cure for Autism, but there are resources available to you as a parent of an Autistic child.

Living with an Autistic child is stressful; you can’t just spontaneously take the family out for the day, or take an unexpected holiday, turn up at school in a new car, or surprise them with a party.

Although these are all normal activities, and undoubtedly your other children would love; even the smallest change from routine can throw your Autistic child into a state of panic, which can cause a tantrum and so on…

Things need planning properly, that’s where social stories come into their own.

They allow the autistic child chance to rehearse the upcoming event, or practice the already learnt skill.

They also give you the opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings these can easily be added into the social story. A social story is like a little friend a constant reminder of how we act.

Your Autistic child will find reassurance in his/her story and the right social cues. They are constant, repetitive and will act as a kind of security blanket for your autistic child.

The upcoming event, like a new baby, a new puppy, a new pair of shoes even can be discussed, even role played on the first couple of readings of a new story.

You will be giving your child an insight into what will happen, or what already happens, why it happens, what it happens for and how they are meant to act, or what they are meant to do.

What about saying Hi, or excuse me, things we do automatically, but to an autistic mind these things are just silly, why do you want to say Hi to someone you don’t know, or don’t really care for, or even want to.

Politeness is a learnt skill, we learn it and it sticks in our minds, the autistic mind needs a gentle reminder of this skill, unlike a typically developing mind the autistic mind needs help learning social and communication skills.

So let’s take a look at social stories, they are with you constantly, a little reminder and a solid  descriptive, straight forward, never deviating, or spontaneous, friend, their to help child with autism feel comfortable with situations, activities and events.

Social stories:

Can be a very useful tool they are used to teach social skills to children and people with autism.

A social story is a simple description of an everyday social situation, written from the Autistic a person’s perspective.

Social stories are designed to help with social situations as well as normal everyday events and activities.

They are also used to prepare for upcoming changes in the autistic persons routine and help the autistic person deal with other situations that are out of their normal daily routine.

For example a birth, marriage, death or other situation or activity.

The idea behind these social stories is to allow the autistic person to accustom themselves with the up-coming event, or daily activity or situation.

So that the Autistic person is aware of what is going on and can deal with it and the hope is that the social story will help with the autistic person’s behavior.

What are social stories like?

Social stories are always written in the first person, in the present tense, and from the autistic person’s point of view.

The social story should be written in a way that the child with autism can understand. It should match their level of vocabulary and be as specific and personalized as possible.

The story should be written and put into a document/ booklet format.

Once the story has been written a responsible adult, parent, teacher, therapist etc. should read the story with the child/person at least two to three times before the child/person is given the story to read themselves.

This is to ensure that the autistic person understands the important elements in the story.

This can be done by re-reading the story and going over the important elements with the autistic person. You may find a check list approach or role playing the situation in conjunction with reading the story helpful.

For younger children who can not read, or find reading difficult their Mum, Dad, Teacher or adult will need to read the social story for them.

The overall effectiveness of each story should be monitored, with the story being tweaked and or changed as the behavior is learnt.

What is the theory behind it?

Social stories were created to help autistic people improve their social understanding and interactions.

It was found that in children and adults with autism, by giving them simple and clear descriptions and instructions, social cues, to appropriate behaviors they were able to manage much better.

However, it is still not clear why social stories work better for children and adults with autism, than picking up social cues from their everyday environment.

Researchers believe this is due to the “theory of mind”. Which is basically that autistic people have problems understanding why we do the things we do. They find our lives confusing; they prefer repetition and things to remain the same at all times.

There are a number of ways social stories help improve the “theory of mind”.

One theory is that by giving prompts and suggestions to specific social cues and behaviors for situations, using social stories may actually help to improve the autistic person’s problem solving abilities.

Social stories are also used to help the autistic person manage certain situations. Which will then help them to deal with tasks, activities and situations that they previously found difficult and confusing or upsetting?

They can also help the autistic child / person understand what is expected of them, and what they can expect from other people.

Do Social Stories work?

Research has shown that social stories do help reduce problem behaviors. They also help to increase the autistic person’s social awareness, and have been found to help re-enforce an already learnt skill or teach a new one.

Social stories are more useful to autistic children and adults who have basic language skills.

Although you can get social stories in audio and pictorial formats. It is not known if social stories work when sign language is used.

There are no known negative effects of social stories reported and it is believed amongst the medical and social professionals that social stories are beneficial to  all autistic children, young people and adults.

The belief is that the social story can be used to teach the autistic person social skills that he/she would otherwise not know how to use appropriately.

This in itself is a good thing and can help alleviate what could otherwise be stressful situations for parents and carer’s.

So what does a social story look like?

Social stories are made from different sentence types.

Descriptive, Perspective, Directive. They may also include Affirmative, Control, Co-operative sentences.

Descriptive sentences provide information about specific social settings or situations, for example they provide cues to what the person sees, who is involved, and what happens, For example: At lunch time most of the children will go to the dinner hall.

Perspective sentences describe the feelings, emotions, thoughts, and/or mood of other people. Describing the way a situation is viewed by some body else, many kids with autism have difficulties understanding how others see things. For example: Usually, when people are happy, they smile.  Smiling makes people feel good.

Directive sentences provide the autistic person with information about what they should try and do, to be successful in the situation. For example: If I stay calm in class, I will learn more.

Recommended formula for writing Autism social stories:

Are two to five Descriptive sentences for each Directive sentence, which may include Perspective sentences. Research shows that many stories which follow this ratio will be successful.

Children especially autistic children respond well to learning through pictures.

Pictorially rich social stories are thought to be better and easier for the autistic child to understand.

Social stories can be designed for all age ranges and abilities.

A good social skills story will help in all areas as long as it is introduced properly as explained earlier. Then monitored for its overall effectiveness.

If a social skills story is deemed not to be working, it should be tweaked and then used. If it is still not working, the social skills story should be looked at, is this the right story? Or maybe a different social skills story would best suit the situation.

At  we aim to provide pictorially rich, specific social stories that can be printed off and used for various ages.

Promoting healthy hygiene habits in autism

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Good hygiene habits are learnt through our peers and family, we listen, watch and naturally learn how to take care of ourselves.


With autism however, the ability to learn social skills such as good hygiene habits is not learnt naturally these skills need to be taught directly.


Parents, teacher and care givers use social skills stories to help teach healthy hygiene habits in autism, first developed by Carol Gray these autism resources are used when promoting healthy hygiene habits in autism.


Social skills stories are normally written by experts in autism development and are always written in the first person using text and images to help the autistic person understand the skill that is being taught or re-enforced.


Typically developing youngsters naturally learn self help skills and the need for these skills. With autism however the need for social acceptance is not always the same.


An autistic youngster may not understand the need for personal hygiene, their ability to read facial expression and body language is also impaired, therefore the autistic youngster may not realize their lack of personal hygiene may appear odd or in some cases offensive.


Social skills stories can help explain the need to practice healthy hygiene habits in autism whilst teaching the autistic youngster these skills and routines.


Social skills stories are also used to help with other issues related to good hygiene habits in autism such as taking an autistic child to the dentist, or autism and getting a haircut.


All of these social skills stories can now be downloaded from autism developmental experts providing social skills stories on issues such as good hygiene habits in autism, taking an autistic child to the dentist and autism and getting a haircut, one such site with 20 printable social skills stories for self help skills in autism is


Find expertly written stories promoting healthy hygiene habits in autism as well as stories on potty training an autistic toddler, autism and menstruation, using deodorant, showering and other self help personal social skills stories.




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