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This video tutorial offers instructions and examples of how to create personal stories to address specific behaviors that may negatively affect a person’s social interactions. This video is part of a professional development retreat held at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa. The Ghana Ministry of Education Division of Special Education’s “Unit Schools” are 2 to 3 classrooms for students with intellectual disabilities and autism within a general education school. There are currently 25 Unit Schools throughout Ghana with approximately 1,200 students. Lindsay Milgram, CCC-SLP, introduced these narrative stories, which are adapted from Carol Grey’s Social Stories, to 70 “Unit School” teachers of students with intellectual disabilities and autism and teachers of students in general education.

Social stories are designed for children with autism or intellectual disability that have behaviors that may interfere with them participating in the class, home and/or community. The stories help the identify the behavior, understand how the behavior affects the child as well as what they can do instead and how that will benefit them. They were developed for individuals with autism and/ or intellectual disability.

The transcript for this video in English is below:

Catherine Crowley: Welcome. My name is Catherine Crowley. I am a  Distinguished Senior Lecturer at Teachers College Columbia University. This is a video tutorial on how to create narrative stories to address socially unacceptable behaviors. Essentially they are a set of pictures and text that help the child understand 1) what is the behavior that needs to be extinguished (Identify the specific behavior to address), 2) why that behavior needs to be extinguished (How does the behavior affect the student’s family and/or community), 3) what they can do instead (including how to better communicate what they need), and 4) the benefits of changing that behavior, doing it in a different way.

Lindsay Milgram, CCC-SLP: “To create a Social Story the first thing we need to do is to identify the behavior. Ask yourself, ‘Why is my student having trouble in this situation?’. Most people recommend reading the story at least twice a day. So we talk about routine, repetitive behaviors, and that is how a social story is implemented. Use the language the student speaks.”

Catherine Crowley: What follows now are a series of examples of social stories created by Ghanaian teachers of students with intellectual disabilities and autism in the Unit Schools.

Example 1:

[What is the behavior that needs to be addressed] I always drool.

[Why the behavior needs to be addressed] The drool smells very bad and gets my chest wet. When I drool, people don’t come to me.

[What they can do instead] When I drool, I can find my handkerchief. I can wipe my mouth with my handkerchief and make it dry.

[Benefits of changing the behavior] When my mouth is dry, people draw closer to me and I’m happy.

Example 2:

[What is the behavior that needs to be addressed] When I want someone’s attention, I pinch.

[Why the behavior needs to be addressed] People feel bad when I pinch them, it hurts. I will touch someone’s arm when I want attention. If I forget and pinch them, I will say, ‘I am sorry’.

[Benefits of changing the behavior] People will like it if I touch their arm.

Example 3:

[What is the behavior that needs to be addressed] When I arrive at school, I will sit at my desk.

[Why the behavior needs to be addressed] When I stand up, it distracts the other students. [What they can do instead] When I sit at my desk, I can pay attention to the teacher. When I want to stand up, I will raise my hand for permission. If I stand up, I will listen to the teacher and students when they ask me to sit down.

[Benefits of changing the behavior] The teacher is happy when I sit at my desk because it allows me to learn. I like learning. it makes me feel happy.

Find the playlist for the full set of videos in this module series here:

Narrative Stories Playlist

Find each of the modules from this playlist here:

Swahilli Version (Narrative Stories)

Amharic Version (Narrative Stories)

French Version (Narrative Stories)

English Version (Narrative Stories)