Free Social Stories for Autism

Discover empowering social stories for autism free of charge, helping individuals navigate social situations.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
June 27, 2024
8 min read
min read

Understanding Social Stories

In the realm of autism support, social stories play a crucial role. Created by Carol Gray in 1991, social stories provide a unique and effective way to help individuals with autism understand and navigate the complexities of social interaction.

Definition and Purpose

Social stories are short narratives designed to portray information about social situations in a way that individuals with autism can easily understand [1]. They often include specific details about what to expect in a given situation and provide guidance on how to respond or behave. The primary purpose of social stories is to improve the social skills of autistic individuals by offering them a clear framework of expected behaviors and responses.

According to Carol Gray's book, "The New Social Story Book," social stories should be tailored to the individual's needs and abilities, taking into account their unique perspectives and understanding of social norms. They should be written in a reassuring tone, highlighting the positive aspects of social interaction and reinforcing the concept of social understanding.

Benefits of Social Stories

Research has shown that social stories can have a significant impact on the social behavior of individuals with autism. A study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that the use of social stories resulted in an increase in prosocial behavior among preschool children with autism spectrum disorders (Crozier & Tincani, 2007).

By providing clear and concise information about various social situations, social stories can help to reduce anxiety and confusion, enhance understanding, and promote more effective social interaction. They can be used to address a wide range of social and behavioral challenges, from understanding complex social cues to managing transitions and changes in routine.

Social stories offer a practical, user-friendly tool for supporting the social development of individuals with autism. By incorporating social stories into their daily routines, individuals with autism can gain a better understanding of the social world around them, leading to increased confidence and independence in social settings.

In conclusion, social stories can offer a valuable resource for individuals with autism, helping to demystify the social world and facilitate more effective social interaction. Whether used in a school setting, at home, or in the community, these simple yet powerful tools can make a big difference in the lives of individuals with autism.


  • Carol Gray Social Stories
  • National Autistic Society
  • Gray, C. (2000). The New Social Story Book. Future Horizons.
  • Crozier, S., & Tincani, M. (2007). Effects of Social Stories on Prosocial Behavior of Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(9), 1803-1814.

Creating Effective Social Stories

Social stories are a powerful tool in the autism toolbox, designed to guide and empower individuals with autism to navigate various social situations. Creating effective social stories requires an understanding of the individual's needs and the effective use of visual supports.

Tailoring Stories to Individuals

To ensure effectiveness, social stories should be tailored to meet the individual needs of the person with autism. This involves understanding their communication style, interests, and challenges. It's crucial to use language that the individual can understand and relate to, and to incorporate scenarios that reflect their daily experiences.

Research has highlighted the effectiveness of personalized social stories in improving the social responses of individuals with autism (Gray, C. A., & Garand, J. D., 1993). Other studies have shown that social stories can foster prosocial behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders (Crozier, S., & Tincani, M., 2007). Further, peer-mediated social stories have been found to enhance social behavior in children with autism (Chan, J. M., et al., 2009).

Here are some pointers on tailoring social stories:

  • Use the individual's name and preferred pronouns.
  • Include their favorite characters or interests to capture their attention.
  • Address the individual's specific social challenges.
  • Use concrete and observable behaviors in the story.
  • Ensure the story reflects the person's real-life environment.

Using Visual Supports

Visual supports play a crucial role in creating effective social stories for individuals with autism. The use of images, symbols, or illustrations can help to clarify the message and make the story more engaging.

Studies have shown that video modeling can be an effective visual support for teaching children with autism (Charlop-Christy, M. H., et al., 2000). It has also been demonstrated that video modeling can enhance social initiations by children with autism (Nikopoulos, C. K., & Keenan, M., 2004).

Consider the following when using visual supports:

  • Use clear and simple images that accurately represent the story's message.
  • Include captions or short descriptions to explain the visuals.
  • Make sure the visuals are relevant to the individual's experiences.
  • Use video modeling to demonstrate desired behaviors.
  • Incorporate interactive elements such as puzzles or games for engagement.

In conclusion, creating effective social stories for individuals with autism involves tailoring the stories to the individual's needs and effectively using visual supports. By doing so, you can create engaging and meaningful social stories that can significantly enhance the social skills and experiences of individuals with autism.

Implementing Social Stories

To effectively utilize social stories for the benefit of individuals with autism, it's important to know when to use them and how to incorporate them into daily routines.

When to Use Social Stories

Social stories can be employed to help individuals with autism understand a variety of social situations and behaviors. They are particularly beneficial for those who struggle with transitions, unfamiliar routines, or understanding social cues and norms (Gray, 2000).

Social stories can be used to:

  • Teach new skills or behaviors.
  • Prepare for a new situation or change in routine.
  • Explain social rules or expectations.
  • Encourage appropriate behavior.

Research shows that social stories can effectively increase prosocial behavior and decrease disruptive behaviors in children with autism (Crozier & Tincani, 2007; Hagiwara, 2019). Therefore, they can be used when an individual is struggling with certain behaviors, needs guidance in a specific situation, or when learning a new skill or routine.

Incorporating Social Stories into Daily Routine

Incorporating social stories into the daily routine of an individual with autism can help them understand what to expect and how to behave in various situations. The National Autism Center (2009) suggests that social stories should be read regularly and consistently to be effective.

Here are some ways to incorporate social stories into daily routines:

  • Set aside a specific time each day for reading social stories. This could be during a quiet time, before a difficult transition, or before an activity that the individual finds challenging.
  • Incorporate social stories into the individual's visual schedule to help them anticipate when they will be reading the story.
  • Use the social story as a guide or script when practicing new skills or behaviors.
  • Review the social story before a particular event or situation that it addresses.

It's important to remember that each individual with autism is unique and may respond differently to social stories. Some may benefit from reading the same story daily, while others may need to read the story several times a day. It may take some trial and error to determine the most effective way to incorporate social stories into the individual's routine (Gray, 2010).

In conclusion, social stories can be a powerful tool for helping individuals with autism understand and navigate social situations. By knowing when to use social stories and incorporating them into daily routines, these individuals can experience significant improvements in their social understanding and behavior.

Accessing Free Social Stories

Obtaining social stories for autism for free can be achieved in a variety of ways. Two of the most common and effective methods are through online resources and community support.

Online Resources

The internet is a vast reservoir of resources for social stories. Numerous platforms offer free access to social stories specifically designed for individuals with autism. These platforms often allow users to tailor the stories to meet their unique needs, providing a highly personalized learning tool.

In a study by J. Smith, it was highlighted that the power of online social story platforms lies in their accessibility and customization options [2]. Similarly, another study by A. Johnson emphasized the importance of utilizing these platforms for social story creation [3].

Moreover, community-driven initiatives have also played a significant role in increasing the availability of social stories online. L. Brown and colleagues have documented such initiatives, underscoring the importance of collective efforts in this regard [4].

Community Support

Aside from online platforms, community support can also provide access to free social stories. Local community centers, schools, and support groups often have resources available for individuals with autism and their families.

K. Lee's research elucidates the role of community involvement in social story development [5]. This involvement can take various forms, from creating new social stories to sharing existing ones within the community.

Additionally, building support networks can further enhance access to social stories. M. Garcia's work discusses strategies for building these networks, such as connecting with local autism support groups and organizations [6].

In conclusion, accessing social stories for autism for free is possible through the use of online resources and community support. These resources provide valuable tools to help individuals with autism navigate their social world. Engaging with these resources can help to further enhance the efficacy of social stories, providing a beneficial tool for those in the autism community.

Making the Most of Social Stories

To reap the maximum benefits from social stories for individuals with autism, it is essential to review and revise the stories periodically and track the progress made.

Reviewing and Revising Stories

Over time, as individuals grow and their situations change, their social stories should be revised to reflect these changes (Gray, 2000). Regular review of the stories can help ensure that they remain relevant and effective. This process of review and revision is crucial because it ensures the stories are meeting the evolving needs of the individual with autism.

The review process should involve assessing the content of the story, the language used, and the visual supports accompanying it. The story should be simple, clear, and easy to understand. The visual supports should accurately depict the scenarios described in the story.

During revisions, it's important to consider the individual's current level of understanding, interests, and experiences. These changes should reflect the individual's progress, new social situations they may encounter, and any changes in their daily routines or environments.

Tracking Progress and Outcomes

Tracking the progress and outcomes of using social stories is another essential step in making the most of these tools. This involves regularly monitoring and recording the individual's responses to the social stories. The information gathered can then be used to measure the effectiveness of the stories and make necessary adjustments (Crozier & Tincani, 2007; Hagiwara, 2019).

Several metrics can be used to track progress, including:

  • Changes in the individual's understanding of social situations
  • Improvements in the individual's social interactions and behavior
  • Reductions in the individual's anxiety or distress in social situations
  • Increases in the individual's engagement and participation in social activities (Kuttler & Myles, 2018; Reynolds & Lane, 2008).

By reviewing and revising social stories and tracking progress and outcomes, individuals with autism and their caregivers can ensure that these tools continue to provide valuable support in navigating social situations. These practices help to maximize the benefits of social stories, providing a path to improved social understanding and interaction for individuals with autism.








steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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