Narrative Supports: An Angelman Community Webinar

Quick Overview

In this webinar, Kate Ahern presents on the topic of social narratives and social stories as a way to support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, specifically focusing on Angelman Syndrome. She explains that social narratives are a category of supports that use stories as interventions, and social stories are a specific type of narrative that follows certain guidelines. Kate provides tips for creating social narratives, such as keeping them simple, using descriptive and coaching sentences, and including specific details and motivating factors. She also suggests alternatives to creating narratives from scratch, such as finding pre-made stories online or asking for recommendations on social media. Kate emphasizes the importance of introducing and reviewing the narratives with the individual, modeling language, and using role play to reinforce the concepts. She concludes by discussing the evaluation of pre-made narratives and providing additional resources for further exploration.


Hello everyone! My name is Kate Ahern, and I am excited to present this virtual webinar on social narratives. In this workshop, we will explore how social narratives can support individuals who need extra help understanding new situations, managing anxiety, and achieving success. I am representing AAC Voices, in collaboration with the Angelman Syndrome Foundation and the Angelman Syndrome Foundation Canada. This session is titled “Empowerment Through Narrative Supports, Including Social Stories.”

About Me

I have over 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher for children with complex communication needs. I have also worked as a consultant for school districts and families, specializing in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technology. My journey with Angelman Syndrome began when I met a student with the condition over a decade ago. Since then, I have dedicated my work to supporting individuals with Angelman Syndrome through my homeschool academy called AAC Voices Online and Ahern Academy.

The Power of Narrative Supports

Narrative supports are a category of interventions that use stories to support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. These stories can take various forms, such as storybooks, paragraphs, comic strips, videos, or storytelling apps. One popular form of narrative support is social stories, which were developed by Carol Gray, a special educator, in 1990. Social stories break down complex social scenarios into smaller parts and are written from the individual’s perspective or in the third person. They are designed to educate and empower individuals, rather than focusing on behavior change.

When to Use Social Narratives

According to Carol Gray, at least 50% of the narratives we write should be celebrations. These stories should focus on favorite things, successful routines, and positive experiences. The other 50% can be used for regulation, teaching coping skills, and preparing for new or different experiences. Social narratives can be particularly helpful for individuals with Angelman Syndrome, as they provide structure, predictability, and visual supports. They can be used to prepare for activities like going to the dentist, getting a blood draw, or experiencing changes in routines.

Writing Your Own Social Story

To write your own social story, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a specific topic and narrow it down to be covered in one narrative.
  2. Analyze the topic by considering who is involved, where and when it happens, and any sensory aspects.
  3. Identify key points and options related to the topic.
  4. Gather photos and videos that are meaningful to the individual.
  5. Create a title that clearly reflects the topic.
  6. Write a beginning that introduces the topic and a middle that provides more information and options.
  7. Summarize the story and end with a celebration or positive statement.
  8. Review and revise the story as needed.

Alternatives to Creating Your Own Social Story

If you prefer not to create your own social story from scratch, there are alternatives available:

  1. Search online for pre-made social stories or social narratives.
  2. Check websites dedicated to social stories, such as Carol Gray’s website.
  3. Ask for recommendations on social media platforms.
  4. Consider using artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT to generate a social story.

Remember to evaluate any pre-made narratives you find and customize them to meet the specific needs of the individual.

Implementing Social Narratives

Once you have created or found a social narrative, it is important to implement it effectively. Here are some tips:

  1. Introduce the narrative to the individual in a calm and positive manner.
  2. Read and review the story together, encouraging discussion and questions.
  3. Use role play and props to act out the narrative and make it more interactive.
  4. Model language using the individual’s communication system.
  5. Refer back to the story when similar topics arise to reinforce learning and understanding.

Evaluating Pre-Made Narratives

When evaluating pre-made social stories or social narratives, consider the following criteria:

  1. Is the story specific to the topic and individual?
  2. Does it use positive and non-judgmental language?
  3. Is it motivating and repetitive?
  4. Does it accurately and literally define and explain the topic?
  5. Does it use images and videos that are meaningful to the individual?

Remember to customize and adapt pre-made narratives to meet the specific needs of the individual.

Thank you for joining this webinar on narrative supports for the Angelman community. I hope you found this information helpful in understanding the power of social narratives and how to create or find them for individuals with Angelman Syndrome. If you have any further questions or need assistance, please feel free to reach out to me at

Talk details

  • Title: Narrative Supports: An Angelman Community Webinar
  • Author(s): Kate Ahern
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: None
  • Publication date: 2023-06-26
  • Collection: Angelman Academy