ASD and Story Grammar Marker/Narration tool

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  • jeff_and_Dayna

    Hi! I have an 11 year old son with high functioning Autism. Narrating (oral) is a challenge for him. He has difficulty organizing the information, figuring out what he wants to say, and staying on topic. He tries so hard, but struggles and I believe his comprehension is also impaired to a degree. He seems to need something more concrete to understand narration. I came across a tool called the Story Grammar Marker that helps to organize thinking for narration. I am not thinking of using the program long term, but more for the scaffolding for his thinking and processing of information to be narrated. Theory of mind (ability to take other’s perspective) and understanding of motive behind character actions is also weak. I am just wondering if anyone had tried this or similar therapeutic approaches to supporting narration. Thank you for your help! A Canadian Mama

    Sonya Shafer

    I haven’t used the Story Grammar Marker tool, but I’m happy to share some thoughts about what has been helpful with my youngest daughter. She struggles with global developmental delays, autism, and processing disorders.

    1. Set the stage. Context is a huge key to comprehension. I try to briefly explain who or what we will be reading about and the scenario. If I have a picture, that can really help her visual mind.

    2. Break the story into short segments and give each segment a descriptive title. So for example, we recently read about how George Washington helped some soldiers lift a heavy log into place while their corporal just stood on the side and barked orders. You could break that story into smaller portions like this:

    • Meet General Washington
    • The Soldiers’ Struggle
    • What the Corporal Did
    • What George Washington Did

    So you might write the first title on a small whiteboard, explain that in this portion the student will meet George Washington, read that portion, and ask the student to tell what it said about General Washington; then introduce the next portion with its title, read that portion, and ask the student to tell about what the soldiers were struggling with; etc. It’s kind of like shining a spotlight on each portion of the story, walking the student through it step by step.

    If you wanted to, once the student was familiar with walking through a story like that, you could invite him to also try to retell the whole story at the end, using the four titles as an outline of sorts.

    Theory of mind and understanding motives are still huge challenges for my daughter. The idea I shared above doesn’t touch on those aspects, but it might offer a simple way to walk through a story little by little.


    Highlighting vocabulary can also help understand more vague concepts in the story before you read the text. This gives some mental hooks for her mind to focus on. Maybe give a focus like comparing the two characters in a story.

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