ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

    ASA Homepage
Friday, July 14, 2006: 3:30 PM-4:45 PM
Ballroom D
#2321- Social Story™ Movies: Converting Printed Stories to Highly Dynamic Videos
Social Stories™ have hit the ‘big screen’ in homes and classrooms! Developed in 1991, Social Stories™ have been used by parents and professionals to describe concepts, interactions, daily routines, events, and expectations to children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders. This presentation introduces Social Story™ Movies, briefly describing their research based rationale and history, and focusing on how this new resource may be individually tailored to maximize it’s potential.

Presenters:Mark Shelley, B.A., Degree, USC, The Special Minds Foundation, President, The Special Minds Foundation - Mark Shelley is the President of The Special Minds Foundation. Prior to starting the non-profit organization Mark spent the previous 20 years in the advertising field. He has won local, regional and national awards as a writer, director, producer and director of broadcast television commercials, political campaigns and corporate multimedia presentations.

Carol Ann Gray, BS, Degree, The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding, Director - Carol Gray is a consultant to children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. In 1991, Carol developed Social Stories™ and Comic Strip Conversations, strategies that are used worldwide with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She has published resources on topics related to children and adults with ASD, including articles on bullying, death and dying, and how to teach social understanding. Carol conducts several workshops and presentations each year in the United States and abroad. She is the recipient of the Barbara Lipinski Award for her international contribution to the education and welfare of people with ASD.

Social Stories™ have found technology and the result – and potential - is very exciting! The first Social Story™ was developed by Carol Gray, a consultant to students with autism, in 1991 to describe the variety of activities on a playground during recess to Tim, a kindergarten student diagnosed with autism. Shortly thereafter, Carol developed co-authored the first article describing the approach with Joy Garand, a special education teacher from Ohio. Since that time, the approach has been enthusiastically utilized by many parents and professionals in an effort to share the unspoken elements of communication and social interaction /events to people with autism spectrum disorders. Continuing research has confirmed the efficacy of Social Stories™. At the same time, technology is charting and defining their future, specifically via a unique project resulting from the efforts of two non-profit organizations. The Specialminds Foundation, with support from The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding, is illustrating Social Stories™ with movies. Social Story™ Movies are an innovative resource that parents and professionals can easily use to teach social concepts and skills to children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at home and school.

A Social Story™ describes a concept, interaction, or event in a specifically defined style and format that is consistent with the learning characteristics of people with ASD. Written most frequently by parents and professionals, each Social Story™ is steadfastly patient as ideas are presented and explained one at a time. Social Stories™ have 10 defining characteristics that distinguish them from task analyses, social scripts, or other text-based social skills materials. In addition, Social Stories™ share the unspoken elements of social communication, making abstract or difficult to understand social insights accessible and meaningful. The result is that each Story has a characteristic unassuming, positive, ‘on your side/best friend' quality. As a result, they are frequently used to teach social concepts and skills to children and adults with ASD in home, educational, therapeutic, employment, community, and medical settings with much success.

As Social Stories™ have grown in popularity, The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding, a non-profit organization serving children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, has become their official ‘home'. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Gray Center is working to protect the quality of Social Stories™ through training, a journal (Social Stories™ Quarterly), and the dissemination of updated information through their website. In addition, The Gray Center is also continually working to improve the approach – most recently and notably by supporting the efforts of The Special Minds Foundation to illustrate Social Stories™ with movies.

Under the direction of Mark Shelley, The Special Minds Foundation, a non-profit organization, is solely dedicated to developing and funding technology based resources that provide immediate assistance to everyday issues for families living with the complex issues that come with a diagnosis of autism.

A few years ago, Mark approached Carol Gray with an idea: to place Social Stories™ in ‘real' contexts by illustrating them with movies. A format was developed - consistent with the integrity and intent of Social Stories™ while at the same time harnessing technology to maximize the potential of movies as illustrations. The result? Like other movies, each Social Story™ Movie follows a script. Unlike other movies, Social Story™ Movies are also guided by a Social Story™ that describes what is occurring and why. Occasionally, the action freezes, stopping to emphasize and discuss important cues. When this happens, the color movie frame becomes a black and white photograph – complete with text and patient narration that describes what is happening – before returning to the action.

In summer of 2005, educators were surveyed to identified concepts, skills, settings, and events that frequently challenge students with ASD in school settings. These were translated into topics, and developed into Social Stories™ Movies. Earlier this year, the first Social Story™ Movies were made available for purchase. Each set of movies includes a CD with ideas to assist parents and professionals as they introduce and implement each Story. In addition, each movie has an optional, coordinating booklet containing the Story and illustrated with black and white photographs from the movie.

This presentation will introduce participants Social Story™ Movies, emphasizing how they may be tailored by parents and professionals to suit individual needs. Participants will be able to: • accurately define the term ‘Social Story™ Movie'; • describe the research-based rationale and history of the approach; • outline the format that makes Social Story Movies™ unique; • describe the rationale that supports this format; and • identify strategies parents and professionals can use to tailor the approach for those in their care.

See more of The ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)