Social Stories and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Social story

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

Social stories and other social scripts are based on the idea that some autistic people 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 autistic children or adults 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 autistic children.

Determining if social stories provide any significant benefits for autistic individuals 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

17 Jun 2022
Last Review
01 Jul 2017
Next Review
01 Oct 2023