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3 Battle-Tested Tips for Effectively Implementing Social Narratives

Posted by Meg From AdaptEd on

3 Battle-Tested Tips for Effectively Implementing Social Narratives

Social narratives are one of our go-to options for teaching rules and expectations AND fostering independence in our students.  

Here are 3 tips we have for getting the most out of your social narratives:

  1. Look Before You Read.

One of the key ingredients in a good social narrative is visuals.  

It’s no secret that brilliant images can offer another modality of learning and support to a student.  (Pro-tip: try using social stories with real images rather than drawings or clip-art.  It’s a game changer!)

So why not squeeze every ounce of power out of those visuals?!?

. . . Yeah, we thought you’d be down.


So here’s how you do it:

Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD     Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD      Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD

Before you present a social narrative for the first time, put in the effort to take a “picture walk” through the story.  

It doesn’t take much- just a minute or two to look at the picture on each page.

Explore what you see and let the student get introduced to the topic they are going to learn about.  

Usually this is a great opportunity for your student to apply their prior knowledge before you even start teaching about the topic!

Here’s an example from a social narrative about fire drills:


On our picture walk we don’t worry (yet) about the words on the page, but just discuss what we see.  

It might sound a lot like this:

“Look at that!  It’s a fire alarm.  Have you seen one of these before?”

Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD

This gives the student an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the content.  Chances are, they might point to or look at the fire alarm in the room to demonstrate their awareness.

  1. Offer The Chance For Independence.

Initially, we always review a social narrative together with our student.  It’s a crucial part of making sure that the information is presented in a useful way and that it is understood.  


But, when it feels right for the student (this could be after one exposure or it could be after 20- it all depends), we start to give the student a chance for independence.  

Perhaps this means that we still read most of the lines, but that we pause to let students “fill in the blank.”


For example, we might say “If the fire alarm is too loud I can . . . “


Then we’ll give the student the chance to demonstrate the knowledge they have picked up by finishing the sentence for us.

Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD

Another way to foster independence is to provide a social narrative library.  When there is an established location for social narratives in a classroom that means students know where to find them.  Encourage them to go explore the stories on their own. Independent rehearsal builds comfort and can work wonders!


  1. Let them own it.

Okay, we mean this one quite literally.  

Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD       Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD        Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD


Whenever possible, let your student take their social narrative home.  Let them explore their knowledge outside of the walls of their classroom.  Let them share their knowledge with other adults and appropriate people in their lives.  Let them feel PROUD.

Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD

A great way to do this without burning through alllll of your ink is to send the social narrative home to parents in an email attachment.


(You may not always have a digital copy of a social narrative.  If you have a single hard copy that just can’t leave the classroom, try an extension activity where the student re-creates the story themselves using good ol’ paper and pencil or Google slides.)

We are pretty serious about this one. 

Practice using these three tips and let us know how it goes!  

  • P.S. Yes- AdaptEd wants you to send a copy home to parents.  You have our full permission and encouragement.  
  • We are all about supporting you and your student the  best way possible.

P.P.S. If you like these- check out the full line here.... we also have a killer dill on our full set. (It's forever growing- which means if you buy it now, you'll get every new narrative we ever right FREE! in email updates 📧 🤩) 

 Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD       Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD      Social Narratives 3 Battle Tested Tips for Making them Effective use for behavior management Special Needs Autism ASD


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