Social Stories and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Social story

Social stories are a type of prompt or script used to help individuals on the autism spectrum understand and behave appropriately in certain situations.

Social stories and other social scripts are based on the idea that some people on the autism spectrum have difficulty understanding and/or behaving appropriately in certain situations, such as meeting other people for the first time.  

Social stories provide descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and, sometimes, what to do in that situation.

Some social stories are written on single sheets of paper, others are written in booklets and some are recorded onto tape or video. The author of the story may read it to the individual with autism, record it so that it can be played back as required, or the individual may read it for himself.

Our Opinion

There is a small amount of high quality research evidence (four randomised controlled trials) on the use of social stories as an intervention for children or adults on the autism spectrum but the results are mixed.

There is a considerable amount of low quality evidence (more than 80 single case design studies) to suggest that social stories may reduce unwanted behaviours and increase social interaction in some children on the autism spectrum.

Determining if social stories provide any significant benefits for individuals on the autism spectrum is not currently possible. We must wait until further research of sufficiently high quality has been completed.

If you are going to use social stories, we recommend that you should follow the 10 defining criteria established by Carol Gray. This should ensure that each story is written to meet the specific needs of the individual child in a specific situation.


Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions

19 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Jul 2017
Next Review
01 Jul 2020