What Is a Social Script?
Oh, the librarian and the teacher should be friends
Yes, the librarian and the teacher should be friends
One job invokes all new terms
The other hears them and they squirm
But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends
Literary folks should stick together
Literary folks should all be buds
Teachers want some Core/STEM topics
Librarians never hand them duds
It’s silly season over at Chez Bird, it would seem. But I think a lot about the teacher/librarian relationship. Not just between teachers and their school librarians (if they’re lucky enough to have any) but between teachers and public children’s librarians as well. It’s a symbiotic relationship at its best, and a passive aggressive one at its worst. And, occasionally, just a baffling one, particularly when librarians must handle new terms for books that they themselves are unfamiliar with (and lest we forget, teachers have to deal with arcane librarian terms like “OPAC” and “Reader’s Advisory”).
One term I myself had not heard of came up on the PUB-YAC listserv recently, and it caught my attention. Apparently there are librarians out there who face parents asking for “social script” titles. And what might those be? Librarian Jennifer Salt explained all. What follows here is her explanation. It may either clarify things for a lot of you public librarians out there, or at the very least prepare you for this request in the future. As she says:
Social scripts basically take an event and break it down into small, explicit, step by step instructions. Any conversation that happens as part of the event is included. (for example: “When I get on the school bus, the bus driver will say ‘Hi John.’ I will say, ‘Hello, Mr. Smith.’ Then I will sit down in an empty seat”)
“Social Scripts” is a term that is widely used–within a fairly small world. They are widely available, but–here’s the rub–I know about these because of experiences related to my own disabilities. I can find them easily because I know they exist–but I can’t figure out how to tell the rest of you to search for them.
“Social scripts” is evidently not a standard search term. I know for a fact that my library owns several of these books–but since I know that, and also know where they are shelved, I usually just walk the customers over to the right area–I don’t actually do a catalog search. However, I did plug in the term “social scripts” into our online catalog in response to Rachel’s query–and I didn’t get results that actually matched what I was looking for. Then, I tried again using Baker & Taylor and a third time using amazon.com. “Social Scripts” didn’t work as a search term on either of those websites, either. Then, I tried entering one of the titles into our online catalog and checking the subject headings–but that didn’t lead to my discovering any kind of subject heading that zoned in on what I was looking for either. Plugging “social scripts” into google turned up workable definitions–but the suggested books–well, not so good.
In any event, one book describing a “typical day” is likely to be more stressful than helpful. Those of us who need to break down our routines to this extent–we don’t generalize well. For example–I gather that to most people, there’s not much difference between someone greeting you by saying “hi” or someone greeting you by saying “how are you?” In my mind, these are two *completely* different scenarios for which I have *completely* different scripts in my head. One really helpful thing that social scripts can do is help neurotypicals better understand how we think and give parents\teachers\caregivers tools to help kids who process information differently. And since you guys *can* generalize, so simply telling parents, “We may not have exactly what you’re describing, but I can show you some books that other parents in similar situations have found helpful” actually can help families more often than not. Most parents, once they have a general idea of what a social script is, are quite capable of adapting what does exist and\or creating new scripts to meet their child’s specific needs.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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