Autism Resource blog:
Skill Building

Parent Support University: Week 20

Aug 12, 2020
social narratives
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Speaker 1 (00:01):

Hello AnswersNow, family and friends, Adam Dreyfus back for our weekly parent support university, which we're doing during the pandemic to help demystify some of the terms and phrases that we use in applied behavior analysis. I am Adam Dreyfus the co founder and chief science officer for AnswersNow, what are the AnswersNow? That's a good question. We are a mobile platform that you can just download off of the whatever app store you've got, whether it's the Android store, the Google play store, the Apple store. So you just go in type AnswersNow, or finger AnswersNow into your search. No space just AnswersNow, no space, and you'll get that little purple butterfly will pop up and you'll be able to download it. We connect you directly to your own clinician. That's the whole point of AnswersNow to reduce the barrier of entry for a parent or caregiver to connect to a clinician, because right now the model is not great.

Speaker 1 (01:03):

It's you've gotta be lucky enough to have a clinician near you. You've got to be lucky enough to be near a clinic or a school, and it's just, we're not reaching all the folks that we need to reach. So AnswersNow was born to put a BCBA in your pocket. A what's a BCBA, a board certified behavior analyst. They are the experts on ABA, the applied behavior analysis, which is what CDC has told us is the best intervention package for children and adults diagnosed with autism. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, that's true. I agree with the CDC on this one and what we're doing here over the course of the pandemic is doing these weekly parents supporting universities through the framework of the National Professional Development Center, evidence based practices, Whoa, mouthful.

Speaker 1 (01:55):

That's exactly right. And that's part of what the problem is. So about 10 years ago the National Professional Development Center came together and it's essentially a handful of universities and looked at what do we know about how to help these kids with autism? Not what's the flavor of the week, the newest thing coming down. Cause if you're a parent or caregiver, you know what I'm talking about, but every six months Oh, it's an Maxine's. Oh, it's oxygen. Oh, it's gluten. Oh, it's STEM cells. Oh, it's hyperbaric chambers. Oh, it's squeezy vests. Like it just comes at you like crazy. So they compiled a list of the evidence based practices and that's what we've been doing. We've been going through those on a weekly basis. We highly encourage you to go to their website and sign up for their afirm modules, A F I R M that's where they have a list of all of the that have them all listed and they break them out and they teach the, it takes about two, two and a half hours to get through the module.

Speaker 1 (02:49):

Unfortunately I still think people need a little bit more guidance, even though it's a great resource and it's a great way to learn stuff. So like today, we're gonna be talking about social narratives which is a different way of saying social stories. And I'm pretty sure the reason they refer to as social narratives is somebody copyrighted the term social stories and what that does is, and I don't know that everybody likes their little emojis and emoticons that makes Adam angry face when you copyright something that is super simple and you make it more difficult for parents to get the information they need. So I might go back and forth them, social stories and social narratives and happy to talk to a lawyer. So social narratives are almost exactly what they sound like, social stories, social scenarios, where you basically, you take whatever it is that you want the child to learn and create like a picture book out of it.

Speaker 1 (03:44):

And most of the time you use eye based language because you want the kid to be sort of hearing it in their own voice. So there's a really nice breakdown and we were kind of looking up a little bit, cause I've got some notes to make sure I get it right. So they usually have a descriptive perspective sentence, a directive sentence, and affirmative sentence. I'm going to go through those a little bit, but there's endless resources out there. You can just go into Google and type in social stories or social narratives. There's apps, that'll help you kind of build them out. There's a software that you just kind of plug in the language and you can add the graphics in. It doesn't have to be that complicated. You can literally draw them out on a piece of paper.

Speaker 1 (04:27):

I'm a terrible artist. But you can, you can do it that way. That's how they, I'm almost certain got their start. But the key is you're writing. Either mostly from the kids' perspective, some of the research suggests that if you put you in there, like you are going on the school bus, or if you are eating, but there's some kids that, that works a little bit better for it, but primarily you want to say, I right, you want the language to say I, so I'll give you an example. So here's a little bit of the introduction I have to go to school each day. My friends were at school each day, very person centered, and then a descriptive piece. Sometimes when I get angry, I hit my friends and then a little perspective. It's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to hit my friends.

Speaker 1 (05:08):

When I hit my friends, it scares them and makes them sad. And then the directive piece next time at school and I get angry, I will not hit my friends. I will use my words and tell the teacher why I'm angry. And then kind of in a formative sentence, when I don't hit my friends, they will feel happy and I will feel proud that I didn't hit them. So you see that that's a very structured social story with all of those elements in it it doesn't have to be that structured. And like I said, there's tons and tons of resources out there for this and even apps now where you can cause a lot of kids are, you know, they're on their phones, they're on their iPads, they're on their notepads. And so they can interface them that way. What I want you to take from this is that there's absolute value in helping a child or an adult with autism, with the words in their head.

Speaker 1 (05:59):

Right? So that's what a social story is. It's trying to build sort of a script for them to follow the next time they're in a situation. And then they use the graphics, the pictures to illustrate it. So actual pictures of actual people work better than cartoon pictures for the most, for the most part, because it's a, it's just more accurate. And it looks like real life a little bit more. There's a lot of, we've talked about video modeling. But what I really want you to hold on to is that idea of the voice did they have in their head? Like the one that you've got. Right. All right. Like say your name's max. So you'll be driving down the street thinking, you know, what I really want is I want a sandwich. What kind of sandwich do I want? A hammer maybe no more like a Turkey sandwich.

Speaker 1 (06:47):

You use this voice to plan to control your behavior. Like maybe you're about to go into a meeting and it's with your boss and you're a little bit nervous. So you're talking to yourself, you're like, alright, Max, everything's going to be okay. Yay. Like we're all right, but we're not in any kind of trouble here where for a lot of folks on the spectrum, it doesn't work like that. Right. It's not a sort of a useful tool. It can be know a lot of people off the spectrum, frankly. So instead of being like your little buddy kind of helping you out, it can, you're sitting outside the boss's office and you're like, Oh my God, my boss hates me. This is I'm gonna lose my job. He's probably gonna report me to unemployment. This is going to be that there's a lot of different terms for that.

Speaker 1 (07:28):

Catastrophizing is my favorite one that no matter what's happening, there's some voice in your head telling you like, Oh man, everything's going to go bad right now. And that is fairly common, especially for folks on the higher end of the spectrum of the Asperger's folks largely, and this is somewhat theoretical because, because, because they're not picking up accurate information from other people, right. They can't just, it's, it's hard for them to just look at somebody and say, Oh, they're angry or they're sad, or pick up on all those little cues. And so absent that they tip towards the catastrophic thinking that person doesn't like me, nobody likes me. I'm a bad person. And so social stories and social narratives, same thing. Let's talk the worst helps to control that a little bit, right? It gives you different language to use in the situations.

Speaker 1 (08:17):

So like this, the example that I just gave you was a way for a kid to have language in his head. So that cause he, this, this is just an example, but the language he may have in his head is that person's making fun of me. Right. And they may or may not like frequently, they're not. Yeah. But it does. Absolutely bullying does happen. And so when I've been present and seen what they're looking at and then talk to the kid, like I worked with one kid who was about 10, 11 years old and we'd be out on the playground. I said, Oh, I want friends, but nobody wants to play with me. They all think I'm stupid. And I thought, Oh, well I have a bullying situation here. Right. He's a little different, like maybe, maybe he's accurately sort of responding to the world.

Speaker 1 (09:03):

So I spent some time on the playground and by large, like the other kids just ignored it. Right. He didn't engage. He wasn't very good at the games that they were playing. And so, but if you talk to him, you sit down next to him, Hey, how's it going? Like, Oh my God, that girl over there she's, she doesn't like me. She thinks that the way that I'm dressed is funny and I'm like, wow, they're not even paying any attention. So we worked on it. It was a little, it was kind of a variation on the social story. It was a little something that I call it behavior detected where, well, why do you think that right? What is it that she's doing? That's telling you that. And then having him identify those things and there wasn't anything to identify. Right. It was all sort of the voice in his head.

Speaker 1 (09:44):

And he said, and so I'd say, well, looking at her, she's not looking at you, she's talking to some other people. Her back is to you. She's probably not talking about you or thinking about you right now. There's no evidence in my little behavior detecting that she's talking about you right now. And we'd go around and kind of do that and everything, almost everything was this very negative self talk. And so we did the behavior detective piece and which is kind of goes in line with some of the social narrative. But really what social stories are giving them a script. All of us, when we learn how to talk, we talk in scripts and you can make a pretty powerful argument that we're always talking in scripts. Like there's, that's, what's happening right now.

Speaker 1 (10:37):

There's, I mean, BCBA talking to parents mode and so I'm using those scripts, right. Which could be true. So highly encourage you to go, to, which is our website where you can sign up and in a really exciting turn of events over the last couple of months we're taking insurance. We take insurance, we take Anthem insurance. And I'm just about to be credentialed for Medicaid here in Virginia. We're based out of Richmond, Virginia, that be rolling that out across some other States, but you can sign up and kind of find out about your eligibility. You can check out our blogs, our blogs are very popular. We've got some great BCBAs who've written some really good informational pieces for you. And yeah, sign up to talk to a BCBA.

Speaker 1 (11:27):

So check us out and or like we said, get your fancy phone out, go to your Apple play store here to right now the app store type in search typing, whoops. And it's servers now hit search and there you go, click on that, download it and away you go. So to wrap up, we definitely want to encourage you to check out, and also check out the afirm module is A F I R M modules through the National Professional Development Center. There's one specific to social narratives and social stories. It's free to sign up. We're all about free stuff that we can give you. We want, I really hope that you and yours are well right now. It is a pretty crazy time. And a lot of people are like, well, you just have to take care of yourself.

Speaker 1 (12:34):

It's easier said than done. And especially if you're a parent or a caregiver or somebody with special needs, it's a I was talking to a parent last night and someone was like, well, you know what, at least things go by pretty quickly. And she's like, no, it does not go by quickly from me. It goes by very, very slowly, sometimes second by second and is excruciating. And that's just the truth. For most parents out there, this is incredibly stressful and it's overwhelming and you can feel very isolated. Well, that's what we're here for. You're not alone. We've got you. We can cut down on you feeling stress. We can cut down on you feeling overwhelmed and we can help hopefully make this a crazy little journey a little bit less crazy. Well thank you for your time. Check us out at getanswers I am Adam Dreyfus, the chief science officer and co founder. And I appreciate your time.

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