Autism is very near and dear to my heart. Some of you already know my five year old son Tristan was given the diagnosis of PDD-NOS right after his third birthday. Even before the autism diagnosis we went through many hurdles medically and physically. My son’s diagnosis does not define him or who he is as a person. He is still the beautiful little boy I brought home from the hospital that chilly December afternoon. With everything we have endured with Tristan since his birth, I hope to share about what has worked for us, what areas with which I still struggle daily as a parent, and my dreams, hopes and fears for the future.
A good technique introduced to us was the use of “Social Stories.” What exactly is a Social Story? According to Carol Gray, “A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience. Half of all Social Stories™ developed should affirm something that an individual does well. Although the goal of a Social Story™ should never be to change the individual’s behavior, that individual’s improved understanding of events and expectations may lead to more effective responses.”
Tristan’s behavioral therapist was the one who first introduced this term to us, and we have made many stories, and observed great response with them from Tristan. When Tristan was younger he loved to run away from my side. He thought it was funny, but when you are in a parking garage or a store full of wonderful little places to hide, not to mention careless, angry drivers as they try to find a parking spot, it is NOT funny at all. Our behavioral therapist created the “Be Safe Book” which had photos and easy sentences describing what was “safe behavior.” She even incorporated what was safe to touch and not touch, because our son also had a fascination with our toaster oven and electrical outlets in our home.
Another book she recently created is called “The New Baby.” This book is to help Tristan cope, because he cannot handle his new baby sister’s coos or cries. We had this same problem for about four or five months when his sister Keira was born, but we did not even know what behavioral therapy was at the time. The point of this book is to let him know babies make noises and cry because they have no words yet, and if he cannot handle it he is to cover his ears or go find a quiet place in another part of the house. This is a work in progress and the car drive to therapy seems to be the worst for him as you can read in this post here. We are making head way, but it is slow.
I like the use of social stories because with the easy pictures and the words tailored to your child it makes something you want your child to understand more concrete. There are lots of great resources out there to learn how to write a Social Story. Below are some links I think are fantastic and I hope helpful to you as they have been to me and my son.
This month I plan to write several blogs pertaining to autism to help spread awareness. It is my hope that you my readers will not let autism define you as parents, as a family unit, or your children. Help me to share information by spreading autism awareness and the use of Social Stories.
One Project Link Party