My name is Carol Gray. My career began in 1976 as a teacher with four children with autism at Jenison Public Schools, in Jenison, Michigan.
I developed Social Stories in 1990 and will be your guide to their history. We’ll explore the philosophical roots of Social Stories and the events that led to their discovery and continuing development.
I have spent a lot of time going through file drawers and old corrugated boxes of articles to piece together the history of Social Stories. It has added detail to – and in some cases corrected – my understanding of Social Story history. For example, prior to this backward search through time, I would have told you that a conversation with one of my students initiated Social Stories. I now understand that Social Stories developed over several years. This does not dismiss the importance of the conversation, instead it fills in important vacant spaces in Social Story history. This four-part summary is an opportunity to set the record straight, to share the events, setbacks, and thoughts that led to the development of Social Stories with unprecedented documentation.
I have divided the Social Story history into four sections. This is the first, followed by:
2. The Historical Context of Autism and Social Stories (Up to 1987);
3. The Origin of the Social Story Philosophy (1986-1990); and
4. The Discovery of Social Stories (1990 – 1993).
I suggest reading and exploring sections 1-4 in sequence. They are summaries with links to original documents. You’ll notice that the Social Story history section covers from the early 1950s until 1993, when the first Social Story Book was published.
Many of the original articles and documents have been unavailable for several years. For example, in the first chapter, “The Historical Context of Autism and Social Stories”, you’ll find an unpublished article from 1980 and excerpts from a journal that I kept during my first year of teaching. In the third chapter, “The Discovery of Social Stories”, there’s a ink to the hard-to-find first formal journal article describing Social Stories that I wrote with Joy Garand. Similar resources are in each chapter. Together they are an accurate and detailed account of the context, opportunities, experiences, and ideas that resulted in the development of Social Stories and other ideas and instructional techniques.
Most of the documents in this Social Story history are Morning News articles. Our program received a federal Challenge Grant (Grant) in 1986. It enabled us to place our secondary students in general education classes and vocational training experiences in the community. The Grant also made it possible to print and distribute a newsletter to keep others informed of our activities. Initially, the newsletter was printed on a mimeograph machine in the school office. The quality and ‘look’ of The Morning News improved as time went on. The Morning News became the Jenison Autism Journal in the fall of 2002. In 2004, the Jenison Autism Journal became Autism Spectrum Quarterly with a new editor, Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP.
You’ll notice my summary of the history of Social Stories covers from the middle of the last century until 1993. After that, the articles tell their own story. Simply go to The Morning News/Jenison Autism Journal on this website. There you will find two things: The Best of The Morning News/Jenison Autism Journal, a topical list of selected articles with a short description of each. You will also find, Back Issues, a sequential list of all of the existing issues, from 1993-2004. They are available for you to review or download with my compliments.
Every resource on this tour of documents is unaltered. Please keep age and historical context in mind as you encounter outdated terminology or long-since discarded attitudes and ideas. For example, some of the earlier Social Story information is no longer true today. As you proceed, you’ll see how ideas and values transformed into our more current vocabulary, values, and understanding.
The resources are original in another way, too. Some of them have fuzzy school-mimeograph machine text, and others are not in the best of shape. At one time or another they each shared my desk or work area with iced tea or Diet Coke®. There are some stains, smudges, rips, and tears. No matter, they were the best copies available, and I scanned them in for this come-as-you-are documented history.
In some articles, you may encounter blacked out areas or handwritten notes from me. These are to clarify any confusion resulting from mention of materials that are no longer available. Please trust that I have tried to find as many of these missing materials as possible, many of them unfortunately without success. There is a link or ordering information for each available resource.
Before you get started, I want to explain why and when I capitalize the term ‘Social Stories’. ‘Social Stories’ has been routinely capitalized as a proper noun for several years to distinguish the ‘genuine’ Stories that meet all of the current defining criteria. The word ‘Story’ or ‘Stories’ is also capitalized if used in reference to a genuine Social Story. I am following suit in this history; when ‘story’ or ‘social stories’ appears without capitalization, it means that the story or stories met the requirements of the definition at one time, but would not be considered Social Stories today.
My goal is to provide you with a helpful history of Social Stories. I hope it meets your needs, whether you are seeking a general overview or extensive detail, a few key pieces of information or a specific article. If you prefer to skip around, it is possible to start with any section. In this way, you can tailor your tour to fit your time and interest.
Whatever has brought you to this part of the website, thanks for taking the time to learn about the times, events, and efforts that led to the discovery of Social Stories.