Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Receptive language level


Marcia Gragg




This study evaluated the effectiveness of Social Stories™ for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), by beginning to address three serious methodological shortcomings in previous studies: (1) not using experimental research designs, (2) not isolating Social Stories™ as the sole independent variable, and (3) not following Gray's guidelines for writing and presenting Social Stories™. This study also examined the minimum receptive language level required to benefit from Social Stories™. Fifteen boys with ASD, between the ages of 27 and 92 months, participated. Participants were divided into 4 groups based on their receptive language levels on the Mullen Scales of Early Learning. The mean receptive language levels for Groups 1 to 4 were 13.75,24.00, 31.50, and 45.25 months, respectively. A multiple baseline design was used for each group. Lead therapists were 13 mothers, 1 father, and 1 teacher. Data were analyzed using visual inspection. Three of the 4 participants in Group 4 demonstrated immediate, notable downward shifts in level in their respective, challenging target behaviours following intervention. By contrast, only 1 or 2 of the participants in Groups 1 to 3 demonstrated changes in their respective target behaviours following intervention. Thus, the changes in these groups could not be reliably attributed to the Social Stories™. The results provide support for the use of Social Stories™ to decrease challenging behaviours in most children with receptive language at or above the 37-month level, plus or minus a few months. The results also suggest that children's receptive language is a reasonably good predictor of whether or not they will benefit from this intervention. Social validity of Social Stories™ was assessed using a modified version of the Treatment Evaluation Inventory Short Form. Most lead therapists considered Social Stories™ to be acceptable and effective, even for children who did not show behaviour change. Furthermore, child participants seemed to like this treatment. Recommendations are provided for parents, clinicians, and researchers.