Social Narratives offer a useful approach to explaining behaviour to people with Autism. Morris’s book is based on work the author undertook as part of her PhD research. The year of her research is not clearly noted
The ideal reader would be someone beginning work in the field of autism, particularly because the overview of theories of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is clear and easy to follow. The author details the key difficulties with social understanding, which autism is known to create. However, I found the tone somewhat negative in its key emphasis on the ‘deficits’ model of autism. The word ‘deficit’ is used multiple times by the author, with the implication that, ‘missing gaps’ can be filled. For this reason, I would be hesitant to recommend it to a parent trying to understand more about their child’s new diagnosis.
One positive aspect is that the text is easy to read and follow; the suggested approach to creating a social narrative is simple, practical and realistic. The book is instructional in its style, guiding the reader through the process of writing a social narrative in a step-by-step way. There is a very handy table which explains the use of particular types of sentence when constructing a social narrative.
I am more familiar with social stories, which is not a term used in the book. There are some interesting tweaks to the process of writing and introducing a pupil to a social narrative, compared with social stories. One example is using the child’s interests in the development of the story. Another is the use of comprehension questions to assess the child’s understanding of the social narrative content. I have trialled both of these since reading the book, and found they did appear to enhance the learning of the targeted behaviour, particularly as the pupils seemed more involved in responding to them.
The sample social stories are quite varied and there are a substantial number of examples, which can be used as a guide, and personalised for use. An index listing the social situations covered by the sample narratives would have helped the reader find the stories more easily.
Overall, I found little that was new in the book. In particular, it is a little puzzling that no reference is paid to Carol Gray’s innovative work in developing the social stories tool, with which it clearly shares similarities in both usage and methods of development. This lack of originality in content limits my rating.
Sonia Morris – Jessica Kingsley – ISBN: 9781849055925
Reviewed by Anne-Frances Royle
Useful for those beginning work in the field of autism as it is simple, practical and realistic. However, it adds little to Carol Gray’s innovative work in developing the social stories tool.