Social Stories, Social Scripts and the Power Card Strategy
Social Scripts, Social StoriesTM (Gray, 2000) and the Power Card Strategy (Gagnon, 2001) are three types of social narratives that provide direct instruction of social situations for children on the autism spectrum, including those with Asperger Syndrome (AS). Each is written by a child’s teacher or parent, sometimes with the help of the child, providing a visual cue and desired social responses. There are minimal guidelines for presenting social narratives, but the content should match the child’s needs and take the child’s perspective into consideration (Myles, Trautman & Schelvan, 2004). Each of these strategies can be used to teach routines, help a student deal with uncertainty, introduce change in routine, or address a wide variety of interfering behaviors, including aggression, fear and obsessions.
Social Scripts provide pre-taught language for specific situations They can involve conversation starters, responses and ideas to connect conversations or change the topic. Social Scripts can reduce the stress associated with social interactions and assist the child with understanding the perspective of others. Including informal language, slang or child-specific terms in the Social Script may help the conversational exchange appear more natural (Kamps et al., 2002).
Social Scripts are not appropriate in every situation as there is a risk in making children sound too rehearsed or “scripted” in their response. Because students with autism spectrum disorders struggle with appropriate generalization of skills, they may try to use a script in a wrong situation. For example, Rick, a fifth-grader with high-functioning autism, learned how to order a cheeseburger and fries at a well-known fast food restaurant through scripted communication. When he ordered the same food at a sit-down restaurant, he became upset when asked additional questions about the order, such as “How do you want that cooked?” and “What type of cheese do you want on your burger?”
Following is an example of a Social Script written for Rick when ordering in a fast food restaurant.
When I go to a fast food restaurant I stand in line until it is my time to order. The person taking the order will say something like, “Hi, what would you like to order?” I will say, “I want a cheeseburger, a small order of fries and a small coke.” If he asks me if I want anything else, I will say “No.” I will then hand him a five dollar bill and will be given some change. I will say, “Thank you,” when I get my food.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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