Saturday, December 22, 2007

Social Story for Christmas Morning

Guest Post by
Tamera Pogin M.A. C.C.C.
Speech & Language Pathologist

Opening presents can be an overwhelming experience for any child, especially for a child on the autism spectrum. Typically, people are talking loudly exclaiming over presents. There is strewn paper and a lot of extra commotion.

Helping your child know what to expect and organizing the environment are two great ways to reduce stress and prepare for a happy experience on Christmas morning/eve. A social story is one way to accomplish this. A social story should be individualized for your family. The main ideas are creating and describing in the story a designated space for your child to be while opening presents, creating a structure for opening presents, and having a designated place for everyone’s presents to go after opening them. Below is an example that you can modify for your own family Social Story for Christmas. You will add your own details and take digital pictures and add these pictures to your story. In other words, take whatever pictures you need to before to help your child understand the story that you write. If your child understands some language and understand pictures, a social story will help your child understand what to do during your family celebration. If your child is not yet able to understand words or pictures, and really does not do well opening presents, modify the Christmas celebration at your house so that it is enjoyable in whatever way you need to. The real tradition is happy family time together. You might need to communicate with extended family so that they understand if you are going to do family traditions in any way that they do not expect.

The Kopf family on Christmas morning.

On Christmas morning, my Mom will come into my room and tell me it is time to open presents. Our family will go downstairs and Mom and Dad will sit on the blue couch.
I will be on the floor on my Ballerina Blanket. Sara will sit on the floor on her red blanket.

First, I will choose a present with my name on it from under the tree and open it. My fa
mily will watch me open my present. I'll say "Thank-you" and put my present into my basket. I can put the wrapping in a garbage bag.

Then it will be Sara's turn to choose a present with her name on it from under the tree and open it. I will watch Sara open her present. I can say something like, "Great present." She will put her present in her basket.

We will take turns opening presents.

When we're all done opening presents, I can choose one new present from my basket and play
with while Mom makes us pancakes.

1 comment:

slpmn said...

This strategy works great for birthday or other present gatherings. A client of mine, "Aaron," an 5 year old boy with autism, loved opening presents. He was invited to a birthday party and his mother wanted to prepare him for the event. His mom and sister wrapped items around the house and Aaron practiced watching his mother and sister opening gifts after being presented a social story about what to expect. It went really well at the birthday party. His mother talked to the hostess ahead of time and was able to make a specific social story about the sequence of events.