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In the preschool classroom, we encourage peers to help, but sometimes children with autism can feel overwhelmed by “helpful” peers without understanding how to effectively communicate their discomfort or being reluctant to do so in a way their friends can comprehend. “I Can Say No to My Friends” is a social narrative to introduce preschoolers to some initial strategies of self-advocacy, which may not come naturally to many children with special education needs or autism. This social story discusses four key strategies: politely saying “no, thank you,” expressing a firmer “no!,” using the hand up to signal the need for more personal space, and seeking help from a teacher.

Social skill stories, such as “I Can Say No to My Friends,” are particularly beneficial for children who have some receptive language skills but struggle to use expressive language functionally. Through the use of realistic photos and simple text, social stories provide visual aids that help children comprehend and internalize appropriate social skills. These stories create a safe and structured environment for learning, allowing children to practice and generalize their understanding of social interactions.