Posts Tagged ‘Theory of mind’

Social stories as Intervention Strategies

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Social stories are written to describe a social or communication skill that a person with autism is struggling to understand.


Social skills stories describe a social situation in terms of relevant social cues which helps the person with autism understand what is happening and why giving them a chance to better understand.


Since their initial development almost twenty years ago social skills stories have grown into one of the most popular intervention strategies today.


While typically developing children learn social and communication skills naturally from people watching and their environment, this ability is lacking in children with autism. Often referred to as the theory of mind or the inability to read people and recognise social cues.


For children with autism a distinct lack of social skills the theory of mind; can mean the child on the spectrum may be open to ridicule, teasing, bullying and at times isolation.


However, much can be done to help a child on the spectrum acquire appropriate social behaviour and communication skills; this help comes in the form of intervention strategies.


Social stories as Intervention Strategies has been proven effective; Social stories are used to describe the skill or situation in relevant social cues using visual images and first person text in a manner the child on the spectrum can understand.


Images and pictures ARE a powerful means of communication which is understood by all. Social stories follow this concept by using images or pictures to show visually the skill or situation.


Fully editable, printable and made easy to personalize social stories act as a role model or visual framework for the autistic child to use helping them with transitions, rehearse a skill or situation, prepare for a change to routine, learn a new skill, use appropriate communication, and overcome sensory issues.


To learn more about how social stories as intervention strategies WILL help your autistic child OVERCOME difficulties visit:


Social stories normally follow a set pattern of sentence type which was first discovered by Therapist Carol Gray twenty years ago. Social stories are normally constructed and written from the point of view of the autistic child.


No two children are ever going to be the same, therefore social stories need to be editable so appropriate terminology can be used.



Using social stories with autistic child

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

For children with an autism spectrum social interaction are difficult.  This is because children with an autism spectrum lack the theory of mind, which means they have marked difficulties with three main areas of development: social, communication both verbal and non-verbal and imagination skills


A common strategy used to help children with an autism spectrum deal with a lack of the theory of mind is social skills stories.

What are social stories?

Social stories are used to explain much like a comic script story a skill or behaviour the child on the spectrum is struggling with.


Developed by Carol Gray round twenty years ago to help with communication difficulties, social stories are now one of the major tools used to aid autistic children with social and communication skills.


Social skills stories have many uses not just learning how to interact in social situations. Social skills stories are also used to help with new routines, events, transitions, activities, and how to respond appropriately to feelings like anger and frustration.


Research does show that social stories are a good method for improving the social behaviours of autistic children.


Many children with an autism spectrum have problems with communication, for example: answering questions, holding a conversation, listening etc.


A social skills story is written to help a child on the spectrum address a particular problem. However the social skills story can be used generally to address other issues as well. For example a social skills story for washing your hands can be used in the home as well as at school; not calling out is good in the classroom as well as other areas of school like assembly, with a bit of tweaking the social skills story is adaptable.


Probably one of the hardest social deficits for the peers or family of an autistic child is social indifference, where the autistic child appears not to care for the feelings of others, social stories are an excellent way of addressing this issue.

Good social stories will provide information about the feelings of others and the consequences of ignoring those feelings.

Social awkwardness is often the result of simply not understanding the expectations that a certain social situation includes. Providing information about those expectations helps address that deficit.

Social stories are written in first person text, for example “Today I am going to dentist” Social skills stories use images to show the skill like a role model or visual plan, in a manner the child with autism will understand.

However no two children are ever the same and most social stories will need slight tweaking to incorporate personal details, language etc.


To learn more about using social stories with an autistic child and how social skills stories are implemented visit


Social stories need no formal training to use, can be printed for convenience, are editable normally include visual images or pictures and will follow a set formula of sentence type in a concise manner that a child with autism can understand.


Research shows using social stories with an autistic child is beneficial and can have a positive affect of social, communication, imagination and behaviours.



Treatment goals autism

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Research into the latest on autism treatment, shows families and teachers support the uses of visual strategies as a means of teaching and supporting social and communication skills in children with autism.

The priority treatment goals autism are to address social skills deficits and sensory processing issues, achievable using autistic visual supports like social stories, PECS, flash cards and so on.

The predominant characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorders are impairments in an individual’s of social skills, communication difficulties and interaction, along with sensory processing issues, restricted and repetitive activities and interests. This is often referred to as social skills deficits or the theory of mind.

Research shows many parents worry about their child’s ability to make and maintain friendships which often proves difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Probably the main treatment goals for autism are to help overcome social skills deficits – the theory of mind and ease family life and stresses, as well as to help the autistic individual to reach their full potential in quality of life and functional independence.

Achievable with the help of services and autistic visual supports and resources designed specifically to help overcome many of the deficits associated with this disorder. Such as social skills stories specifically designed to address social skills deficits and sensory processing issues as well as communication difficulties.


Parents report significant improvements in social skills understanding once social skills stories have been implemented.


A social story follows a specific pattern of sentence type: descriptive, directive, perspective and control sentences. Social stories were first introduced around twenty years ago as a means of communication, since then their use has expanded and today they are classed as one of the major autistic resources for teaching and supporting social skills learning.

The latest on autism treatment shows a popular increase in the implementation of social stories to address social skills deficits. Social stories are written in first person text, use visual images or pictures and are short descriptive no fluff stories.


The goal of the social story is to help the autistic child better understand a social situation, skills, behaviour or communication skill they are struggling to master or cope with.


The situation or skill etc. is broken down into relevant social cues with appropriate images in an almost comic like style to show the autistic child by answering the ever important “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as give an insight into the thoughts and feelings of others.

To learn more about the treatment goals autism and the latest on autism treatments like social skills stories and visual flash cards, Pecs and so on visit sites such as:

Social stories with pictures

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Social Stories with pictures are excellent visual strategies that help children with autism spectrum disorder learn social and communication skills and behaviours, a social story can show a child with autism what is expected of them and what they can expect from others.

Social stories with pictures can help a child with autism overcome their fears or complete tasks which they need help understanding.

Social skills stories were developed originally as an aid to communication with autistic children. Social stories are now more widely used as visual strategies, an autistic resource and support, to help encourage and teach social, communication, imagination and sensory processing issues and behaviours.


A social story is a short visual story that has been written in a specific style and format.  It describes what happens in a specific social situation and presents information in a structured and consistent manner, by answering the “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what as well as giving an insight into the feelings and thoughts of others.


Social stories with pictures or images and first person text are an excellen autistic resource giving clear, concise and accurate information about what is happening in a specific social situation, without un-necessary fluff.


The goal of a social story is to attempt to address the “theory of mind” or social skills deficits by giving individuals some perspective on the thoughts, emotions and behaviours of others.


The theory of mind or social skills deficits is common to all individuals with autism spectrum disorder. For individuals with autism spectrum disorder having social skills deficits can hinder their social development. Having social skills deficits affect how an individual processes information, thinks, act, reacts, communicates, interacts and behaves.

Using social skills stories can address many of the issues faced by children with autism spectrum disorder on a daily basis and long term, the social story can help with changes to routines, transitions and communication difficulties.

Generally children with autism spectrum disorder have communication difficulties and may act oddly in social situations, not because they want to draw attention to themselves but because they may not understand that others can have different opinions to them, or that other people may want to do something different to what they want to do.

This can make social situations unpredictable and confusing to the child on the autism spectrum. Social stories therefore help the child on the autism spectrum understand what is happening and feel more comfortable with and in the situation.

Most children with autism are visual thinkers and learners, therefore by implementing social stories with pictures for social, communication and imagination skills that need teaching is beneficial and can act as an appropriate role model to the autistic child.

To find out more about how social stories can help an autistic child learn social skills visit:

Alternative sites offering appropriate social stories with pictures can be found at:

Help teach autistic children to make friends

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) affects about one in every 100 children born.


Autistic children are sometimes referred to as being “locked in their own world” and struggle to communicate with others. Many autistic children have hyper or hypo sensitivities, will display repetitive behaviours and obsessive tendencies.

All children on the spectrum will have social skills deficits, the theory of mind: Social interactions, communication difficulties and imagination skills do not develop in the typical manner.


The theory of mind refers to how the child on the spectrum cannot readily appreciate the feelings, knowledge, or beliefs of other people, nor recognise or interpret his or her own thought processes. Consequently they will display communication difficulties, a lack of self-consciousness, and an inability to understand social situations, skills, nonverbal communications and imagination skills.


It is because of the theory of mind a child on the spectrum may find making friends difficult preferring solitary play.

Typically developing children may find a child on the spectrum hard to befriend, this is not uncommon, autistic children can appear rude, aloof and at times unfriendly or approachable.


This is due to their social skills deficits, an autistic child may fail to recognise nonverbal signals sent from another child, humour or jokes, they may lack the skills to pretend play, share or take turns all of which can make befriending an autistic child hard.


There are methods that can help teach autistic children to make friends, one method which is easy to use and can be implemented without any need for formal training is social stories.


Social stories are visual supports for autism which were developed almost twenty years ago as a means of aiding communication difficulties. However today their uses have increased, social stories are probably one of the major methods used to help autistic children learn social skills such as making friends.


Social stories are short, almost comic like representations of a skill or behaviour from the autistic person’s point of view. Using visual images and first person text the social story will answer the “wh” questions – who, where, why, when and what a well as give an insight into the thought process, emotions, feelings and nonverbal communications of others.


Today visual supports for autism play a large part in the teaching of social, communication and imagination skills of children on the spectrum. Generally written by experts, teachers and parents of children on the spectrum, social stories are editable, can be personalized and should be printable for convenience of use. To access social skills stories for issues like making friends visit


To learn more about social skills stories for children with autism and how they can be used to help teach autistic children to make friends, as well as for a wide variety of issues such as respecting personal space, asking questions, recess, visiting the dentist, joining in PE lessons and so on.

Get access to social skills stories for children with autism and related conditions.




(ASD) Autism Spectrum Disorder social skills lessons

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

It is not uncommon for individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to display challenging behaviors and difficulties with social interactions and communication skills.

All individuals with ASD have social and communication deficits which are often referred to as the theory of mind, or “mind blindness”. Meaning they lack the ability to predict the thoughts, feelings and emotions of other people; which can lead to social mistakes or blunders especially in teenage autistic individuals.

Some of these deficits can include:


For the majority of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder probably one of the major difficulties they encounter the theory of mind is with initiating social interactions and responding to the social interactions they may receive from others.


Many children with autism spectrum disorder display difficulties engaging in joint attention, and have difficulties with skills such as sharing, playing, pretend play and taking turns etc.


Generally children with autism spectrum disorder lack being able to understand or demonstrate non-verbal social communication i.e. the “unwritten rules” of social interactions.

Teaching an autistic child to overcome their social skills deficits is quite often a struggle for many parents and teachers.


There are treatments of autism available which can help parents and teachers find suitable methods of tackling social skills deficits using visual tools such as social skills stories.


There is no need for any formal training or qualification to use social skills stories. And now with the internet and search engines such as google, many parents and teachers are now finding it a lot easier to source this effective resource.


Treatments of autism such as social skills stories are used effectively for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) social skills lessons.

Social skills stories are visually rich, easy to implement, can be personalized and printed. Following a specific formula they effectively teach social and communication skills to autistic children.


Generally autistic youngsters are visual thinkers and learners and respond better to visual information, making visual tools such as social stories an ideal tool.


Social skills stories are implemented to teach social and communication skills to autistic children around the house and school environment.

Using images and first person text a social story breaks the skill or situation the autistic child is struggling with into smaller pieces and uses the social cues to show in a visual framework the skill in an easy to understand visual format, like a role model for the autistic child to follow.

The social story can be personalized to suit an individuals needs.

Social stories for autistic children can be downloaded from sites like


All the social skills stories for autistic children on this site are professionally written and visually rich.


Other sites offering visual tools such as social skills stories for (ASD) Autism Spectrum Disorder social skills lessons and autism symbols cards can be found at:





Having autism and the ability to mind read

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

The term “Mind reading” probably conjures up thoughts of psychics and mystical beings. This however is not the case. As typically developing beings we have the ability to predict the thoughts and feelings of those around us, by reading the person’s facial and body language. This ability is often referred to as the theory of mind.

With autism however the theory of mind is missing, an autistic individual will struggle to predict emotion, thought, feelings and desires by simply reading the persons body and facial language and expression.

Consequently for those having autism this lack of theory of mind or non-verbal communication skills can cause social blunders at times, which in itself can leave the autistic individual open to bullying in some cases.

Research into autism suggests that children with autism can be helped learn and develop social and communication skills. Including non-verbal communication skills successfully, by using appropriate methods and treatments for autism and related conditions, such as visual support cards, PECS and social stories.

For many children with autism and the ability to mind read is aided successfully using these methods. Social stories are short descriptive visual representations of a skill or behaviour much like a visual framework they can follow. Taking a situation or skill that they are struggling with, like for example, respecting personal space and making it more predictable and routine.

All autistic individuals will want routine and sameness this is a symptom of autism. By using social stories you can easily make unpredictable situations, stressful situations even everyday skills and behaviours that the autistic individual is struggling with more routine, by giving them a clear precise structured framework to follow.

Social stories are appropriate methods and treatments for autism and related conditions. By using visual images, the social story makes it easier to understand the skill. For those with autism information is absorbed and understood far easier if that information is given visually as with visual support cards and social stories.

The social story follows a specific formula of specially designed short no frill sentences with visual images. To download appropriate social stories for children with autism and related conditions visit:

Or for other specific social stories for children with autism visit:

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.

Using social stories in a classroom

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Autistic students have deficits in social cognition, which means they lack the ability to think about appropriate behaviors in social settings.


This is explained using the theory of mind or the ability to mind read. Typically developing children can understand and read facial expression and body language. With the autistic student this ability to read other people is missing, experts believe the autistic students deficits in social cognition are due to this theory of mind.


Teachers use something called social skills stories to help autistic students cope with their deficits in social cognition. The social skills story gives the autistic student and insight into the skill or behavior that they are struggling with.


By showing them visually much like a comic strip, a step by step visual plan giving them social cues and prompts where needed and suggesting possible behaviors, which can help alleviate stresses and confusions.


Therefore using social stories in the classroom helps the autistic student by presenting them accurate information social cues for the skill or behavior, also showing them what they may expect from others.


Teachers report using social stories in a classroom for situations like for example, shared reading, waiting your turn to speak, asking questions, turn taking, interaction lessons such as gym, as well as social stories for difficulties the autistic student may have with skills such as using the bathroom, recess and so on..


The teacher may use social stories in a classroom in various ways, sometimes teachers may use many social stories in and around the classroom and school helping the student with autism with various skills and behaviors that they may be struggling with.

For autistic students that may be non-verbal the autistic educator will want to read the story to the autistic student at the appropriate times.


Generally an autistic educator will want to use social stories in a classroom to help with deficits in social cognition helping the student with autism feel more comfortable at school and in the classroom, which will cut down on melt downs and stress.


It is believed using social stories in a classroom is beneficial and will help teach vital social skills to the student with autism making for a happier student and class.

You may download social skills stories for autistic students from:


Other social skills stories for autistic students can be downloaded from


Other visual supports such as visual aids cards are available from: