Back-to-School Tips for Children with Autism: Navigating School Transitions Using Social Stories

Back-to-School Tips for Children with Autism: Navigating School Transitions Using Social Stories

The transition from summertime with relaxed schedules, fun activities, and different routines to early wake-up calls, sitting in a classroom, and new teachers and peers can be overwhelming and challenging to adapt to, especially for children diagnosed with ASD. There are several strategies that families can use to help their children prepare for the upcoming school year. Social Stories is a research-based method used in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

Social Stories was developed by Carol Gray (Gray & Garand, 1993) as a strategy that uses visual components to address deficits in social skills with children with autism. They can be short stories that are drawn or written about specific situations or scenarios that could be overwhelming, confusing, or challenging for the individual. Some example situations can be riding the bus for the first time, structure of a school day, following lunch time routines, etc. Providing the child an opportunity to “read” about these scenarios before they occur may provide opportunities for conversation as well as advance notice of what to expect during their school day.

There are a variety of different ways you can “write” a Social Story. It can incorporate visuals and/or written text and can vary in length and complexity of language written. Depending on your child and their current skill levels, they can be a part of “writing” their own story. The language should be simple and easy to understand and communicate a point clearly. It also is important to use positive language instead of focusing on the “do nots” or negatives.

 Example Social Story: Circle Time

Redesign of Fig. 1-Schneider, N., & Goldstein, H. (2009).

This website also has several pre-made Social Stories related to school, such as Going To a New School, Fire Drills, Recess, Picture Day, and so much more! Check out their resource for more examples and printable Social Stories. 

As summer starts to come to an end, parents and caregivers can incorporate these stories into their daily routines, such as reading one before bedtime or after dinner. Providing multiple opportunities and exposure to the upcoming situations and events will help the child become more familiar with the expectations that lay ahead. 

Kind Behavioral Health offers specialized ABA programs for young learners.


Our programs for children aged 1-7 aim to build skills they will need to succeed in all areas of their life. By learning to effectively communicate their wants and needs, engage in social and play activities they find enjoyable, and adapt to everyday tasks, adverse behaviors may be prevented, while children experience meaningful participation with their families, their communities, and in their schools.

The Classroom Readiness Program (CRP), specifically, is a daily, clinic-based program that takes place daily in a classroom-like setting and aims to teach children the skills they will need to access learning opportunities in their community Kindergarten placement.


Autism Little Learners Contributors. (2024, June 29). Social Stories for School: Free library. Autism Little Learners.

Gray, C. A., & Garand, J. D. (1993). Social Stories: Improving responses of students with autism with accurate social information. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 8(1), 1-10.

Schneider, N., & Goldstein, H. (2009). Using social stories and visual schedules to improve socially appropriate behaviors in children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 12(3), 149–160.