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What is a Social Situation?

The word "social" describes an activity that involves talking or interacting with others. Most people communicate and interact with other people numerous times on any given day. Recognizing social cues and expressions of emotion is not inherent to everyone. Many of us don’t think twice about it, but for an individual with special needs, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or social anxiety, a social situation can be a difficult task.

In the tapestry of human interaction, social situations are the fabric that connects us all, weaving through the myriad experiences of daily life. A social situation, in its essence, is any context where two or more individuals interact, sharing a moment of connection that can range from a brief exchange to a deep, meaningful engagement. These interactions form the cornerstone of our societal fabric, teaching us the nuances of communication, empathy, and understanding.

Humans are a social species and it is impossible to avoid all interactions. Incorporating storyboard examples of social stories prior to events occurring can help ease individuals into the interactions by demonstrating what might happen.

School Home Community
  • Working with a Partner or Group
  • Eating in the Cafeteria
  • Trouble with a Peer
  • Having Guests Over
  • Answering the Telephone
  • Using the Telephone to Call Someone
  • Ordering Food at a Restaurant
  • Going to the Bank
  • Visiting the Doctor or Dentist

Social Situations at School

School-aged children will spend a large percentage of their waking hours in school, surrounded by their peers. At any age, navigating social situations for kids, mastering social scenarios for teens, and understanding social situations for middle schoolers are crucial for developing essential interpersonal skills and positive self esteem, according to social identity theory. An example of social interaction can range from the simplicity of sharing to the complexity of resolving conflicts, serving as key social situations examples that teach empathy, communication, and collaboration. During this time, there will be thousands of social interactions, both good and bad. All of theses interactions can be a learning experience. Proper behavior in social situations is crucial for harmonious interactions. It involves understanding and adhering to societal norms and expectations, which can vary widely across different cultures and settings. For children and adolescents, mastering self presentation strategies is a key developmental milestone.

Social Settings Examples and Scenarios

Social skills scenarios provide a structured way to learn and practice the subtle art of interaction. Through examples of social activities for students, they can explore a range of social situation examples, gaining confidence and competence in their ability to connect with others. Whether it's a casual meeting or a formal gathering, understanding what is a social situation and how to engage effectively is fundamental to personal and professional success.

Social scenarios examples often reflect common experiences which enriches our understanding of human connection, offering a prism through which we can view the myriad ways people come together.

Understanding social situations, meanings behind particular social cues and appreciating the value of each interaction is important in shaping our relationships and ourselves.

Giving Someone a Compliment

This scenario teaches the importance of positive reinforcement and how to express genuine appreciation towards others. Students can view illustrations or role-play scenarios where they give each other compliments on a well-done project.

How Can We Help?

Participants explore ways to offer assistance and support, fostering a culture of kindness and cooperation. Students can view illustrations or roleplay scenarios where a group of students comes together to assist a classmate in need.

Accepting a Peer's Criticism

This teaches the value of constructive feedback and how to respond to it with grace and openness. Students can view illustrations or act out role playing scenarios where a student receives constructive feedback from a peer.

Doing Something Fun After School

This scenario highlights the importance of socializing and relaxation, and how to balance them with responsibilities. Students can view illustrations or role-play scenarios where they plan a group activity after school.

Starting a Conversation with a Friend

This teaches the basics of initiating interactions, demonstrating interest in others, and maintaining a dialogue. Students can view illustrations or role-play scenarios where they initiate a conversation with a classmate.

Working in a Group

Participants learn about teamwork, shared goals, and how to navigate differences of opinion respectfully. Students can view illustrations or role-play scenarios where they work on a group project together.

Listening to Other People

This scenario emphasizes active listening skills, showing empathy, and understanding from verbal and non-verbal cues. Students can view illustrations or role-play scenarios where they actively listen to a classmate's story or problem.

Making Plans with Friends

It teaches planning and coordination skills, as well as how to be inclusive and considerate of others' preferences and availability. Students can view illustrations or role-play scenarios where they collaborate on planning an outing or event.

Students are nearly in constant contact with other students and teachers at school. The example social storyboard shows two boys playing during recess with one ball. Both boys want to play with the ball. The event can go a variety of ways, by using the storyboard as a teaching tool, the child is taught a way to positively resolve the situation.

Other social situation examples that may occur in school include:

Classroom Recess Cafeteria
  • Working with a Partner
  • Working with a Group
  • Class Discussion
  • Sharing Available Resources
  • Playing on a Team or with Others
  • Trouble with a Peer
  • Waiting in Line
  • Sitting with New People
  • Conversation with Peers

Social Situations at Home

Home is typically a safe zone for individuals, where there are minimal unfamiliar social situations. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any. Using a storyboard, a teacher or family member can help teach a child what they should do when certain situations occur. When creating social storyboards at school regarding home situations, it is important that the educator is aware of the family’s preferences regarding the situations.

Even in the safest and most familiar places, stress can happen due to social interactions. The sample social story demonstrates a potential sequence of events when a child hears a knock on their door at home. Instead of immediately opening the door, she asks who it is and then goes to get an adult.

Other social situations that may occur at home include:

Family Friends Other
  • Sibling Interaction
  • Extended Family Visit
  • Meeting a New Family Friend
  • Play Date
  • Dinner Guest
  • Birthday Party
  • Interacting with Neighbors
  • Using the Telephone
  • Email

Social Situations in the Community

Taking individuals with special needs into the community can provide a great experience for them, but is also full of possible social interactions. It is practically impossible to avoid all types of interactions while in public. The potential scenarios are endless, resulting in a multitude of possible social storyboards.

There are many events, resources, and services that we need in the community. The above storyboard is an example of a social story involving a trip to the grocery store. The individual went to the store for a specific item, red apples, and she could not find any. Instead of getting upset, she asked the store employee and was able to locate and purchase some.

Other social situations that may occur within the community include:

Service Special Event Outing
  • Visiting the Bank
  • Greeting a Store Clerk
  • Dental Appointment
  • Wedding
  • Funeral
  • Graduation
  • Sporting Event or Concert
  • Going to a Museum or Park
  • Ordering Food

More Social Story Examples

If you are new to social stories, please read our introduction to social stories that covers the basics of social stories and how to make effective ones.

For a closer look, please see all of our social story articles:

Article Description Topics
Daily Living Skills Some individuals require explicit instruction on tasks that many of us take for granted. Make a personalized social story to engage the learner.
  • Hygiene
  • Housework
  • Food Preparation
Transitions and Unexpected Events The unknown is scary for everyone, but unexpected events and transitions can be particularly stressful for individuals with ASD. Help prepare your student or loved one for upcoming changes with a social story.
  • Day-to-Day Transitions
  • Major Transitions
  • Unexpected Events
    • Home
    • School
    • Community
Social Situations Social interactions can be very stressful for many people, with and without ASD. Make storyboards to show possible situations and outcomes.
  • Home
  • School
  • Community
Adolescent Skills As kids get older, their interests and needs change. Brooch potentially difficult conversations with a storyboard example.
  • Peer Pressure
  • Dating
  • Job Interview
Social Stories in the Classroom Social stories are also useful for whole group direct instruction of social and coping skills. Use a storyboard to address issues with both individuals and the class.
  • Coping Skills when Angry or Frustrated
  • Social Cues
  • Class-wide Behaviors
Social Stories for Young Children Young children often struggle with new concepts or big changes. Create a social story to help prepare even very young children for change or new skills.
  • Creating a Social Story
  • Social Story Examples
  • Social Story Principles

How to Create Social Stories for Social Situations


Identify Targeted Social Situations

Compile a list of social situations that individuals may encounter in various settings, such as school, home, and the community. Consider specific scenarios that individuals with special needs may find challenging or unfamiliar. Examples can include working with a partner in class, answering the telephone at home, or ordering food at a restaurant.


Create Storyboards for Each Social Situation

Develop storyboards that depict the sequence of events and appropriate behaviors for each targeted social situation. Use visuals, text, and simple language to convey the desired social skills and responses. Incorporate elements such as facial expressions, body language, and dialogue to enhance understanding.


Provide Guidance and Instruction

Introduce the social stories to individuals in a supportive and structured environment. Use the storyboards as teaching tools to explain the expected behaviors and provide guidance on navigating the social situations. Discuss the emotions involved and the potential consequences of different actions.


Role-play and Practice

Engage individuals in role-playing activities where they can practice the social skills depicted in the storyboards. Encourage them to act out different scenarios and demonstrate appropriate behaviors. Provide feedback and reinforcement to reinforce positive social interactions.


Personalize and Customize

Tailor the social stories to the specific needs and preferences of the individuals. Consider their unique challenges, interests, and strengths when creating the storyboards. Involve family members or caregivers to provide insights and input on the individual's social experiences and goals.


Generalize and Reinforce

Encourage individuals to apply the learned social skills in real-life situations. Provide opportunities for them to practice the behaviors and problem-solving strategies outside of the instructional setting. Offer positive reinforcement and feedback to reinforce the desired social interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions about Social Stories for Social Situations

How can social stories be used in the classroom to promote positive behavior and social skills among students?

In the classroom, social stories can be used to promote positive behavior and social skills by providing students with clear, concise information about how to navigate specific social situations. For example, a social story might describe how to introduce oneself to a new student, how to ask for help from a teacher, or how to participate in a group activity.

By using social stories, teachers can help students better understand social norms and expectations, and provide them with the tools they need to successfully navigate social situations. Social stories can also help students feel more confident and comfortable in social situations, which can in turn lead to improved behavior and academic performance.

What are some of the ways to evaluate the effectiveness of social story lessons and ensure they are impactful to students?

There are several best practices and strategies that teachers should follow when implementing social stories in their classroom. These include not just introducing the stories to the students but also incorporating strategies that reinforce the behaviors and evaluate student’s understanding. Some practical ways to do this include:

  • Introducing the stories in a positive and supportive manner, and explaining their purpose and benefits to the students.
  • Incorporating social stories into the already established classroom routine, and making them easily accessible to the students.
  • Reinforcing positive behaviors and social skills by providing verbal praise, positive feedback, and tangible rewards.
  • Using visual aids and cues to remind students of the social story and its key messages.
  • Collaborating with parents and other professionals, such as speech therapists or behavior specialists, to ensure that the social stories are aligned with the student's individualized education plan (IEP) and goals.

How can teachers create effective social stories that are tailored to the individual needs and learning styles of their students?

  • Identifying the specific social skills or behaviors that the student needs to learn or improve.
  • Observing the students’ current behavior and communication patterns, and taking note of their interests, strengths, and challenges.
  • Developing a story that is written in a simple, straightforward, and age-appropriate language, using visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, or videos to enhance understanding.
  • Including specific examples of appropriate behaviors and responses that are relevant to the student's daily life and experiences.
  • Allowing the students to provide feedback and input into the story, and modifying it accordingly to ensure that it is personalized and engaging.

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