Social Stories™ Describing Life! (Greensboro, NC)

Catherine Faherty Boy in TreeJuly 25, 2017 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Catherine Faherty provides training in Social Stories as part of the Summer Institute for North Carolina Public School Special Educators.


Teachers and parents can follow these instructions on how to make a game to help your students or children learn what exactly is an “arm’s length”. This is a prerequisite to the PERSONAL SPACE GAME that can be played with the whole family or whole class!

SKILL TO LEARN: How to allow a socially comfortable space between you and another person.

NEW UNDERSTANDING: I know what it means to stand an “arm’s length” away from someone else.

EXAMPLE SITUATION: The child may stand too close to others, so much so that it bothers most people.

PREPARATION FOR GAME: First, you prepare with the class. You will define, literally, what is meant by “an arm’s length” by using a measuring stick. Measure different children’s arms. Make a list on the board to show the range of “arm’s length”. Find the average arm’s length. With stiff cardboard or a piece of light wood, make a measuring stick that represents the average arm’s length. Write on it “Average Arm’s Length”. (You can make a math lesson out of figuring out the average arm length of the members of the class.)

THE ARM’S LENGTH GAME: A child picks a card out of a hat which has either a location, or object, or a person’s name on it. (Examples of what can be written on different cards are: “classroom door”, “Julie’s desk”, “my locker”, “Mrs. Smith”, “fish aquarium”, “bookshelf”, and individual children’s names, “Daniel”, “Athena”, “Rickie” etc…) After reading the card that he or she picked, the child is supposed to then go to that object, location, or person, and stand approximately an arm’s length from the object or the person.

Repeat the routine reminder that we are supposed to stand “approximately an arm’s length away from people most of the time”. The child will use the measuring stick which has been marked to show the average arm’s length to help him or her know how far away to stand.

As time goes on, the children can estimate (without using the measuring stick) and then someone else can check with the measuring stick to see if they are close to the proper distance. Continue the game by taking turns picking cards from the hat.

Eventually, you will modify this game, using the same general idea by playing THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME.

 First write a Social Story about personal space, and explain that personal space can be determined by using an arm’s length as a general measure. You will summarize by literally and concretely defining “personal space” as an average “arm’s length”. For more detailed instructions see directions for THE PERSONAL SPACE GAME.

Remember to write Social Stories™. Social Stories describe life. Teachers and parents are encouraged to be trained in writing Social Stories by Catherine Faherty, or another member of Carol Gray’s Team Social Stories™.

Social Stories™ Describing Life! (Kinston, NC)

April 27, 2017 at Caswell Developmental Center in Kinston, North Carolina, sponsored by the University of North Carolina AHEC, specifically for the Allied Health Staff, Psychologists, Social Workers, Direct Care Staff, Nurses, Teachers and other staff at Caswell Developmental Center. This training covers the rationale and practical use of Social Stories with in-depth training in the preparation, writing, and creative use of Social Stories to nurture greater mutual understanding for individuals on the autism spectrum, and those who work with them – therapists, teachers, parents, and others.