Taking the Work Out of Blood Work: A Provider's Guide

Social Stories™

Many people with ASD benefit from having a written guide for situations that may be new, scary, or confusing. A Social Story™ is a helpful way to provide this guide for blood draws.

The goal of a Social Story™ is to help your child understand the situation and to help decrease anxiety that comes from entering an unknown situation. Social Stories™ give individuals social information through pictures and text instead of spoken word, which can be difficult for individuals with ASD.

Sample stories are given below. Strategies known as story-based interventions have been researched enough to be considered an established treatment for children with ASD. For more information about evidence-based treatments, go to the National Standards Project at www.nationalautismcenter.org.

Tips for writing a Social Story™

When to read a Social Story™

Social Stories™ were created by Carol Gray. For more information about them, visit www.thegraycenter.org.

Sample Social Story™

An example of a Social Story™ for older children: Getting My Blood Taken

I am going to the doctor. People go to the doctor for lots of reasons. Sometimes, people go to the doctor when they are not sick. When I get to the doctor's office, I may have to wait my turn. While I am waiting, I can __________ (talk to my mom, watch TV, read a book, or think about something else, etc.). When it is my turn, a nurse may call my name. A nurse is someone who helps the doctor. I will go with the nurse into another room. This is a safe thing to do and my _________ (mom, dad, etc.) can come in with me. The nurse may ask me to answer a question and follow her directions. The nurse will like it if I listen. I will try to follow her directions and stay calm. My __________ (mom, dad, etc.) will be very proud if I listen to the nurse and do what the nurse says.

Sometimes the nurse needs to take some of my blood to make sure I am healthy. I can give some blood away because I have lots of blood in my body. The nurse may ask me to push up my sleeve and may put a band around my arm. The nurse may also spray something on my arm or use other things to make it feel better. The nurse will use a needle to take blood from my arm. The needle may feel like a pinch. I will try to stay very still while the needle is in my arm. This is the safe thing to do. While the nurse is doing this, I can _____________ (talk to my mom, look at my book, or think about something else, etc.). The needle will come out of my arm when the nurse is finished. After that, the nurse may put a cotton ball and bandage on my arm. When the nurse is finished, I can have _____________ (reward). My mom and dad will be very proud of me for sitting still and staying calm!

*It may be helpful to pair the reading of this with visuals that stand for each step in the process of the blood draw.

When creating a Social Story™ for children with lower reading levels, consider using short, descriptive sentences along with pictures.

An example of a Social Story™: Going to the Doctor

I am going to the doctor. The doctor keeps me safe and helps me when I am sick.
I may have to wait with my _______ (mom, dad, etc). I can play with my ________.
When I am with the doctor, I will try to sit in my chair and do the things the doctor or nurse tells me to do.
My mom will be happy if I listen and have nice words and hands.
When the doctor is all done, I get my reward.