August 10, 2021
Published on Friday 28 August, 2020
Lifestyle Solutions’ clinical team has created a series of social stories to help the people we support understand and navigate the complex social interactions and regulations around COVID-19.
Using simple rhythmic language and clean illustrated design, the stories cover the new and changing aspects of daily life that are causing people stress and anxiety, and where they are unsure how to act or behave socially.
National clinical specialist – disability, Sheree James, who wrote the stories in collaboration with her team, said they are being used by both Support Workers and the people we support to make daily life in difficult times easier.
“Many of the people we support have busy social lives and enjoy mixing closely with others. Adapting to the social and regulatory changes around COVID-19 has been stressful for them. Understanding and observing social distancing rules, or the need to wear masks, can be challenging and difficult for someone who has an intellectual disability or low developmental age. These simple stories help people prepare for and contextualise what they are seeing around them and how to appropriately respond.”
Sheree said Support Workers often read the stories to people to reassure and prepare them before going on public outings. Other Support Workers and people in our care carry the stories with them, to refer to if they find themselves feeling anxious or stressed.
“Our goal is to help people understand something they are struggling with in a way that creates the lowest level of anxiety possible. The stories are written in a rhythmic, sing-song way, and linguistically designed with a gentle tone which has been shown to help lower heartbeat and blood pressure.”
Social stories play an important role in clinical practice at Lifestyle Solutions. They cover just about every situation people we support encounter that might cause stress or anxiety, such as a visit to hospital or changing schools. While the COVID-19 based stories are designed to be used widely, most often social stories are written for individual clients and their specific needs.
“Social stories are something that we do most weeks in clinical; narrative work is so important to the people we support it really helps them to make sense of what is happening. When we identify someone is struggling with a social issue – if they are not sure how to behave or respond or are feeling stressed or anxious – we will create a highly personalised story for them. It can be a book or a small laminated sheet they can carry with them and read or look at, or have read to them, as often as they need.”
If you have a loved one, friend or relative struggling to understand or feeling anxious about key social aspects of COVID-19, you can download our COVID -19 social stories below for personal use. (Please note copyright applies and these must not be altered or repurposed.)