Using Story-Based Interventions to Support Social Cognition in ASD

presented by Patricia A. Prelock & Tiffany Hutchins

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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have difficulty with the social code when interacting with their communication partners. The question becomes, how might we support social cognition so children with ASD can participate in meaningful social encounters? In this course you will learn about an evidence-based intervention called social stories; these are short stories that break down the social code and scaffold social learning opportunities for children with ASD. Social Stories™ have been rigorously evaluated and have been identified as one of 11 established treatments for ASD by the National Standards Project (2009,2015). Participants will learn how to develop and individualize a social story for a child with ASD to build their social cognition in new and challenging social contexts.

Meet Your Instructors

  • Patricia A. Prelock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-CL

    Patricia Prelock, Ph.D.,CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, is Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders, and Professor of Pediatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. Dr. Prelock coordinates parent training programs designed for caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders and has been awarded more than 11 million dollars in university, state and federal funding as a PI or Co-PI to develop innovations in interdisciplinary training supporting children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families, to facilitate training in speech-language pathology, and to support her intervention work in autism spectrum disorders. She has over 155 publications and 500 peer-reviewed and invited presentations in the areas of autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities, collaboration, language assessment and intervention, and language learning disabilities. Dr. Prelock received the 1998 Friends Award through the Vermont Parent Information Center and the first annual Autism Society of Vermont Excellence in Service Award in 2000. She also received the University of Vermont’s Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000. Dr. Prelock was named an ASHA Fellow in 2000 and a University of Vermont Scholar in 2003. She was awarded the Puppets Choice Award through Kids on the Block of Vermont in 2010 for her work in autism. In 2011 she was named the Cecil & Ida Green Honors Professor Visiting Scholar at Texas Christian University and in 2014, she and her colleagues received the Editor’s Award for the best paper in Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In 2015 Dr. Prelock was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh. In 2016, she was awarded the Honors of Association, the highest honor given by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). She and her colleagues were recognized for a meritorious poster submission for the 2016 ASHA Convention. Dr. Prelock earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University and her doctoral degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Child Language, and a Hanen certified SLP for It takes Two to Talk, More Than Words and Talkability. She was the President Elect (2012), President (2013) and Past President (2014) for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, a member organization of more than 180,000 speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Currently, she serves as the Chair for the ASHA Committee on Leadership Cultivation and is a member of the ASHA Foundation Board.

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  • Tiffany Hutchins, Ph.D.

    Tiffany L. Hutchins is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Vermont. She earned an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience in experimental psychology and communication sciences and disorders at the University of South Florida in 2002. Dr. Hutchins’ research focuses on social cognition in typical and atypical development and she has over 50 peer-reviewed and editor-reviewed journal publications, test reviews, and book chapters related to this topic. More specifically, Dr. Hutchins’ primary research foci examine 1) the links from maternal interaction styles to children’s social, cognitive, and linguistic development, 2) the efficacy of story-based interventions to remediate the core deficits of autism spectrum disorder, 3) the development and validation of measures of ‘theory of mind’ and, 4) visual attention to social stimuli in children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. Dr. Hutchins is internationally recognized for her work on the measurement of ‘theory of mind’ and her tools have been validated by independent researchers and translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Dr. Hutchins has delivered over 100 presentations at national and international conferences and venues. She was also recently honored with the Research Award from the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Defining Social Stories

    1. Defining Social Stories

    This section of the course is designed to explain the new criteria and guidelines for developing social stories as described by Carol Gray (2010). It is important to understand the development of social stories as they are a frequently used intervention for children with ASD.

  2. The Theoretical Basis for Social Stories

    2. The Theoretical Basis for Social Stories

    This section of the course examines the theoretical basis for the use of social stories for children with autism. The presenters will examine theoretical explanations for autism including theory of mind deficits, weak central coherence, and deficits in executive function and how the use of social stories might address each of these deficit areas.

  3. Key Recommendations for Developing a Social Story

    3. Key Recommendations for Developing a Social Story

    In this section of the presentation, the key components for developing a social story will be reviewed. A sample social story will be provided with an explanation of the components. Examples of social stories that are ineffective teaching tools and do not represent what is intended will be contrasted with an effective social story. It is important that clinicians know the key components for writing an effective social story that can lead to generalized learning about what to expect and what to do in social situations.

  4. The Empirical Support for Social Stories and Directions for Future Research

    4. The Empirical Support for Social Stories and Directions for Future Research

    This section of the course examines the empirical evidence for the use of social stories for children with autism. The current research highlights the benefits of social stories in reducing undesired behavior, increasing communication skills and promoting social skills will be presented. Participants will also learn about the limitations in the current research.

  5. Developing a Social StoryTM

    5. Developing a Social StoryTM

    This section of the course gives participants an opportunity to experience the evaluation of a social story developed in response to the needs of a 12-year old girl with autism. An original social story developed by a clinician will be presented. The presenters will then walk through the components of an effective social story (e.g., having an introduction, body and conclusion, assessing tone, examining appropriateness of the visual supports included, etc.) making changes that follow the guidelines for creating meaningful social stories. This section will end with a new social story incorporating the recommended changes.