Using digital social stories to improve social skills in children with autism: a pilot experimental single-subject study

Mohammed F. Safi, Maitha Alnuaimi, Abdelaziz Sartawi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face difficulty with educational attainment because of to their inability to interact with others. One intervention that is used to increase social skills in individuals with ASD is social stories. This study aimed at exploring the impact of digital social stories in improving social skills of two students with ASD in the UAE. Design/methodology/approach: An experimental AB single-subject study was conducted to investigate the impact of digital social stories on nonverbal communication, targeting two specific behaviors: raising hands before leaving one’s seat (TB1) and playing and sharing toys with peers (TB2). Two digital social stories (DSS1 and DSS2) were developed for the purpose of this study and transformed using a digital platform to be displayed on an iPad (tablet). Findings: This study involved two male participants with ASD (10 and 11 years old). Participant one demonstrated improvement in TB1 (mean of 1.11) because of DSS1 in the intervention phase. Participant two demonstrated improvement of 18% in TB2 (mean of 0.18) as a result of DSS2 in the intervention phase. Practical implications: Both students that participated in the study showed a positive change in their target behaviors during the intervention phase intervention at different levels. Using an ABA study design would have been stronger in establishing a more valid causal relation in this single-subject design study. However, due the COVID-19 closures and curfews, the researchers had to switch to the AB design. Originality/value: This study demonstrated how social stories had a positive impact on ASD social skills. Further, it indicated the potential effectiveness of using digital social stories to reduce undesirable behaviors or increase a desirable behaviors in children who have ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Autism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2 2022


  • Autism
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Social interaction
  • Social stories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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