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There is preliminary evidence (level 4) that social stories are effective in decreasing challenging behaviours and may improve social interaction skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Prepared by:

Lise Ludwig Mogensen

4th year undergraduate occupational therapy student, UWS



May 2005

Review Date:

May 2007

Clinical Question:

Do social stories effectively improve social interaction and decrease challenging behaviours in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder ?

Clinical Scenario:

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) frequently struggle to identify and interpret the behaviours and intentions of others due to the delays in their communication skills, comprehension and social development. Distress and anxiety are typical responses to confusion in social situations. These responses may be exhibited as social withdrawal or challenging behaviours such as tantrums and aggression

Social stories are commonly used to describe and explain social situations or concepts to children in a reassuring and patient approach that is easily understood. The aim is to improve the child’s understanding of an event by increasing the awareness of expected social cues and perspectives. Furthermore, social stories are intended to help the child prepare more effective and socially appropriate responses. Awareness of the efficacy of social stories may supplement occupational therapy with an individualised intervention that promotes social participation in children with ASD.

Clinical Bottom Line:

Preliminary evidence suggests that social stories decrease challenging behaviours and may improve social interaction skills in children with ASD if developed and implemented according to specified guidelines in a manner suitable to the individual child’s strengths and abilities.

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