Social Narratives and Social Stories - Are They Effective?


Amy Collins​​, OTR, MOT    Practice Guidelines for ASD - AOTA.png

In 2016, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) published Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (AOTA 2016). It is part of a series of practice guidelines published by AOTA. This book covers the state of evidence on a multitude of interventions an occupational therapy practitioner might use and is a “must read” for those who interact with persons on the spectrum. To give just a taste of the valuable information in this book, I summarize below the evidence on social narratives/Social Stories.  

The term social narratives describes a group of interventions in which a short story is developed to address a specific social behavior or social situation, such as how to sit on the school bus or how to behave in a public bathroom. They often address situations described by Brenda Smith-Myles as part of the “hidden curriculum,” those norms, expectations, values, and beliefs that are implicitly, not explicitly taught. The name, Social Stories, is a trademarked term referring to social narratives that meet ten specific criteria (Gray, 2000). The AOTA Practice Guidelines discuss six Level 1 studies on Social Stories in its review.
Half of the studies found an increase in positive social behaviors or decrease in challenging behaviors. One study concluded that Social Stories with music were more effective. One study did not adhere to the guidelines for Social Stories development. The remaining studies had mixed results. These AOTA guidelines conclude that Social Stories should be used to improve social skills with careful monitoring of outcome effectiveness.
For more information on using social narratives and Social Stories, check out these websites.
For an online summary of OT practice guidelines for individuals with ASD, check out:
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2016). Occupational therapy practice guidelines for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. AOTA Press. Bethesda. https://myaota.aota.org/shop_aota/prodview.aspx?type=d&pid=298560661&sku=900385




Author By

Amy Collins, OTR, MOT


​Summarizes evidence for use of Social Stories for persons with ASD as given in the book, Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (AOTA 2016).​

Created at 9/27/2019 10:06 AM by Srivani Erukulla
Last modified at 1/30/2020 1:02 PM by Srivani Erukulla