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Introduction to Social Sketches for Teenagers

Social stories for teenagers can be helpful tools to learn important skills and navigate complex situations. The teenage years present numerous social challenges that can be overwhelming for many teens, including neurotypical high school students. However, older students with autism or ADHD may find it even more perplexing to navigate social rules and expectations that may seem natural to others.

Social stories for teenagers and autism little learners offer a valuable solution by providing structured narratives that help reduce anxiety, boost self-esteem, develop coping strategies, and develop essential teenagers social skills. These stories serve as effective tools to address different situations and various social scenarios for teens and parents, and provide guidance on appropriate behaviors and responses.

Why Teens Need Social Stories

The teenage years present countless scenarios that some learners find overwhelming or confusing without guidance. Here are some reasons why they are great for teens and children of all ages:

  1. Improved Social Understanding: They explain clear and concrete examples of social scenarios, helping the child understand the expectations and norms associated with various interactions. This can lead to improved social understanding and awareness of appropriate behaviors in various social scenarios in and out of the classroom.

  2. Reduced Social Anxiety: Teenagers with autism or anxiety often experience heightened anxiety in social situations. Social stories, including autism social scripts can help alleviate anxiety by providing a structured and predictable framework for understanding and navigating scenarios.

  3. Enhanced Self-Confidence: By familiarizing themselves with expectations and appropriate responses through a story for teenagers, teenagers can feel more confident when engaging with others socially.

  4. Improved Problem-Solving Skills: Through reading and discussing these stories, teenagers can develop problem-solving skills and learn to consider various perspectives and outcomes. This can contribute to their ability to navigate conflicts, as well as engage in effective conflict scenarios for teens, younger children, and even adults.

  5. Increased Empathy and Perspective-Taking: Social stories often incorporate characters with different thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. By engaging with these narratives and pictures, teenagers can develop empathy and practice perspective-taking, which are essential skills for building positive relationships. This is particularly important for skills for teens with autism.

  6. Generalization of Skills: These stories can help teenagers apply learned skills across different contexts and settings. By understanding the underlying principles and strategies presented in the stories, teenagers can transfer what to expect and a certain routine to real-life situations. This can be further reinforced through engaging in social skills activities for teenagers with autism.

  7. Promotion of Independence: These stories provide teenagers with a sense of agency and autonomy in navigating different scenarios. By equipping them with the necessary skills and strategies, they promote independence and empower teenagers to handle all situations with increasing confidence, increasing overall health and well-being.

By incorporating social stories into the lives of teenagers, especially those with special needs, autism, or learning differences, we can support their development and help them acquire the necessary skills for teenagers to thrive in various social settings.

Common Social Situations for Teens and How to Navigate Them

Teens often find themselves in various social situations that can be both exciting and challenging. To help them navigate these encounters effectively, social stories can be a valuable written and visual tool. Here are some common situations for teens and how these stories can assist in managing them:

Going on a Job Interview

Job interviews require impression management skills. A narrative highlights professional attire, making eye contact, having relevant questions prepared, and a strategy for following up properly. This helps reduce anxiety around employment conversations. Social stories can break down the interview process into smaller, manageable chunks, covering topics such as:

  • Greeting the interviewer politely
  • Asking thoughtful question
  • Handling job offers gracefully
  • Coping with rejection
  • Learning from interview experiences for future opportunities

Asking Someone on a Date

Asking someone on a date can feel intimidating for teenagers. A social story can provide a step-by-step approach, beginning by guiding them in building the confidence to initiate the conversation, suggesting a specific date idea, and responding. An example story can provide guidance on breaking it down into smaller, manageable steps, including:

  • Building confidence
  • Initiating the conversation
  • Suggesting a specific date idea
  • Responding graciously to various answers

Being Offered Alcohol or Drugs

Peer pressure and offers of substances are common challenges for teenagers. These stories can assist in recognizing peer pressure, practicing polite refusals when offered substances, and suggesting alternative activities to maintain social connections. It can also assist by breaking down the situation into manageable components, such as:

  • Recognizing peer pressure
  • Saying "no" respectfully
  • Offering alternative activities
  • Nurturing healthy friendships

Joining a School Club

Joining after-school clubs is an excellent way for teenagers to expand their social circles and explore leadership opportunities. Social stories can guide them in observing a club meeting, identifying shared interests, and approaching the club's leadership to inquire about joining. A story can illustrate how to approach this process, covering:

  • Observing a club meeting
  • Talking to the club president
  • Becoming an active member

Chatting at a Party

Social gatherings and parties require specific skills. A narrative can guide teenagers by breaking the process into smaller, actionable components, such as:

  • Initiating conversations
  • Polite and respectful interaction
  • Graceful excusing

Working on a Group Project

Collaborating on group projects demands effective communication and teamwork. Stories can break down the process into manageable steps, such as:

  • Project planning and task delegation
  • Learning to compromise
  • Communicate respectfully
  • Acknowledge the efforts of their peers

Greeting Adults at a Gathering

Interacting with unfamiliar adults can develop a teenager's confidence and poise. Social stories can guide them in starting interactions with a smile, making eye contact, offering a polite handshake, and initiating conversations by asking simple questions. A story can demonstrate the process, covering:

  • Starting with a positive introduction
  • Initiating conversations

How to Craft Effective Social Stories for Teens

Crafting impactful these stories requires some planning and attention to detail. Follow these steps to create narratives that resonate with teenage learners:

  1. Identify the Social Skill or Situation: Brainstorm specific skills your teen wishes to develop, such as starting conversations, dealing with confrontation, or managing stress.

  2. Gather Relevant Details: Note setting, individuals involved, behaviors expected, potential responses, and desired outcomes. Interview your teen to learn their perspective.

  3. Adopt Your Teen's Point of View: Refer to "I" and "me" instead of your teen's name when writing from their first-person perspective. This promotes empathy.

  4. Keep Language Simple and Straightforward: Use short, concrete sentences teens can easily understand. Avoid ambiguity, sarcasm or idioms which could confuse.

  5. Integrate Interests: Mention favorite activities, books, movies or role models within stories whenever possible. Link skills to innate motivations.

  6. Add Illustrations: Snap photos related to the story setting and characters. Sketch or find basic clip art depicting key details. Visuals aid comprehension.

  7. Review Structure: Each story should have an introduction, body and conclusion. Guide your teen through the sequence of events step-by-step.

  8. Emphasize a Positive Tone: Focus narratives on appropriate, successful behaviors rather than what to avoid. End with optimism to boost self-efficacy.

  9. Personalize for Your Teen: Customize stories to real-life contexts and people in their world. Details should feel tailored, not too generic.

  10. Practice Enacting Stories: Role play scenarios with your teen so they can embody characters and experience flows of interaction firsthand.

With care and dedication to these principles, impactful stories can be crafted to benefit teenagers on the autism spectrum. Build skills through engaging, personally relevant narratives.

Developing social skills is crucial for teenagers, especially those with autism or other learning differences. Social stories provide a valuable tool to teach and reinforce appropriate behaviors and responses in various social situations. With continued support and guidance, we can foster the social development of autistic teenagers and help them thrive in their personal and academic lives as young adults.

Incorporating the Social Stories

Starting a conversation about some of the adolescent-related social situations may be awkward. The story can act as the conversation starter itself. Teenagers will look at it and it is almost guaranteed that someone will have a comment or question. This allows the students to initially guide the conversation. As the moderator, it will be easy to figure out what they may or may not already know about the topic and take the conversation in the necessary direction. This approach can be helpful in maintaining their interest in the conversation as well.

Adolescence can be a difficult age group to teach social situations to. Storyboarding allows for a fun, yet age-appropriate representation of adolescent scenarios. The ever-growing library of scenes and categories on Storyboard That also allows for a wider range of situations to cover the needs of the users.

More Examples

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

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 Embed Social Stories in the Curriculum


Identify Relevant Social Skills

Identify the specific social skills or behaviors that you want to address in your curriculum. Determine the key areas where students may benefit from social stories, such as communication, empathy, conflict resolution, or self-regulation.


Design Social Stories

Create social stories that target the identified social skills. Develop narratives that are relatable to your students and present the desired behaviors in a clear and positive manner. Use age-appropriate language and include visual elements to enhance understanding.


Determine Appropriate Integration Points

Identify opportunities within your curriculum where the social stories can be integrated effectively. Look for natural connections between the targeted social skills and the subject matter or activities. Consider both explicit and implicit ways to incorporate the stories.


Introduce Social Stories

Introduce the social stories to your students within the designated curriculum context. Provide a brief explanation of the purpose and relevance of the story. Engage students in reading or discussing the story together, allowing for questions and clarifications.


Reinforce and Practice

Reinforce the social skills presented in the social stories through various activities and exercises. Provide opportunities for students to practice and apply the targeted behaviors in real-life situations. Offer guidance, feedback, and support during these practice sessions.


Reflect and Evaluate

Facilitate reflection and evaluation of the effectiveness of the embedded social stories. Encourage students to discuss their experiences, share any challenges or successes, and reflect on their growth in the targeted social skills. Make adjustments to the integration and implementation as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Social Stories for Teens

What is a social story?

It is a short, simple narrative that describes a social situation, skill, or concept. It is designed to help individuals understand and navigate social interactions.

How do social stories benefit teens?

They can help teens with social and communication difficulties by providing clear explanations and expectations for various social situations. They promote understanding and reduce anxiety in social settings.

Can social stories be used for addressing bullying or peer conflicts?

Yes, they can be tailored to address issues such as bullying, conflict resolution, and appropriate ways to respond to negative behavior. They provide a framework for understanding and responding to social challenges.

How do I introduce social stories to a teenager?

Introduce them in a positive and non-judgmental way. Emphasize that they are tools to help understand social situations better and improve communication skills. It can be helpful to involve the teen in creating or customizing their own.

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