Social Narratives

A story, paired with visuals, that helps a student understand a social situation.

Personal-Space-jpg Page 11b
Social Narrative

Social Narrative

Personal Space

When to use:

  • Changes in routines.
  • Learn new behaviors/skills.
  • Student has difficulty focusing on relevant cues in their environment.

How to use:

  • Identify the situation and target behavior/skill.
  • Collect baseline data to determine appropriate instructional goal.
  • Write the social narrative
    • Use concise language highlighting relevant environmental cues
    • Use first person language (“I will sit in the chair”) or second person language (“Cory will sit in the chair”)
    • Vary the sentence types (descriptive, perspective, affirmative, directive, control)
    • Include visuals appropriate for the student’s age and comprehension level
    • Consider laminating
  • Implement teaching procedure (see below section: How to teach)
  • Monitor student progress through your data collection system and adjust as needed.


  • Make sure the target behavior/skill is operationally defined.
  • Make sure the goal is observable and measurable.
  • Use language appropriate for the student’s age and comprehension.
  • Avoid using a majority of directive sentences.
  • Be conscious of how much information is on one page. Try to keep to one sentence, or one concept per page.
  • When making adjustments, change a single variable at a time, and continue to analyze data to determine success or the need for another adjustment.

How to teach:

  • Decide when and how often to read the social narrative with the student. They are most successful when they are a regular part of the student’s routine.
  • Use when the student is calm.
  • It is beneficial to read prior to an upcoming situation.


  • Some stories are beneficial to be read at home as well!
  • Social narratives can be read to the student by a peer too.
  • Upon success, reading the story can be shifted from staff to the student, if they are a reader (use your data to guide these decisions).
  • Frequency can be faded upon success (use your data to guide these decisions).


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