Nov 9

New situations can be stressful to many people. For expat families, the difficult transition of moving to a new country is amplified if they have children or even more so, a child with special needs. The use of social stories is an approachable and effective way of helping children understand how to react to a new situation.

People with communication disabilities sometimes need more explicit instructions or descriptions, therefore a visual or simplified representation of the situation can act a useful guide. Knowing what to expect can help children with challenging behaviors to act appropriately in new surroundings.

Creating a Social Story

  • Pick one clear topic that your child needs assistance understanding
  • Have the child be the main character in the story
  • Can be displayed as a small visual book, or simplified text on one page
  • Use positive words and display a positive approach to the new situation
  • Involve other people in the story
  • Display the child’s character handling the situation with the correct emotion and behavior

Visual Social Story for Moving

  • Picture of the old house with family members
  • Picture of exploring new city location, thinking about moving
  • Picture of the new house
  • Picture of packing up the old house; explain that all the boxes will safely arrive at new house
  • Picture of a moving truck or airplane
  • Picture of the family at new house
  • Picture of child in his new room
  • Picture of boxes at new house, unorganized; explain that unpacking and organizing takes time

Text Social Story for Moving

  • Create descriptive sentences with factual information
  • Use perspective sentences to convey thoughts and emotions
  • Use directive sentences to explain the appropriate response
  • Follow a directive sentence with an affirmative sentence to strengthen the idea
  • Use cooperative sentences to involve other characters

Example Social Story:

I am moving to a new house with my family.

My new house is in a different country.
The new house will not look the same as the house that I live in now.
The new house will have bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and bathrooms.

The new house will be different.

The new country will be different.
I will be ok.
My new room will be messy with moving boxes.
It is going to be ok.

My mom and dad will be able to help me unpack.
I can ask my mom and dad if I need help with my new room.
I can look around my new street with my mom and dad.
I loved my old house but I will try and love my new house too.
That will make my family happy.
That will make me happy too.

Moving to a New House








To make digital story boards check out: Story Board That



If you are interested in receiving professional, customized ABA services for your family to help with Autism, Sensory Disorders, Behavior Disorders, ADHD or related disorders, contact us at

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