How To Use The ” When To Say Sorry Social Story” Teaching Empathy

Teaching empathy to children with autism in the way typically developing children express empathy can be difficult. The When To Say Sorry Social Story can be useful. There are some who say empathy cannot be taught to children with autism and some even say children with autism do not have empathy.

I want to set the record straight. Children with autism at all levels have EMPATHY. They just may not know how to express it. But they feel everything.

I taught Niam Jain the words “I Am Sorry”  which he memorized and upon prompting would reiterate the words. Slowly over the years Niam began to learn in certain situations saying sorry was important. For example, when Niam knows he is being naughty he will run over and say sorry before you can even begin to think of scolding him. This is not due to therapy being overdone, but more so, his understanding he is about to get into trouble. He knows he can melt my heart with a “I Am Sorry” and a few kisses. If this isn’t empathy and craftiness all mixed , than what is?

Sometimes children with autism  may not have the language to express how they feel. Often times when I am teaching Niam when it is appropriate to say sorry he does not always understand my complex language. Learning when to say sorry does not mean a child does not have empathy.  As my older son was growing up, I have often coached him when it is appropriate to say sorry and why.

To teach Niam when to say sorry I created a When I Should Say Sorry Social Story. You can download it here for free.

“Tips On How To Use The When I Should Say Sorry Social Story?”

I have compiled a list of helpful tips to help your child learn when to say sorry using the When I Should Say Sorry Social Story. Don’t be compelled to do all of them. Pick a few you think are important and will be helpful for your child.

  1. Read The When To Say Sorry Social Story With Your Child

Reading the When To Say Sorry Social Story with your child can help demonstrate when to say sorry with visual pictures. Ask questions and answer questions. Some questions you may ask are ” Why do you think you should say sorry?” or ” How did he feel when you said sorry?” or “How did he feel when you did not say sorry?” or ” How did he feel when you had a fight?” or ” How did you feel when you had a fight with your friend?” Use visual cues of emotions if you think your child requires further assistance to help  answer  questions.


 2. Create A Visual Ques To Help Your Child Remember What To Do In  A Situation

Visual Ques can be very helpful. While role playing, reading social stories, asking and answering questions is good, the child may get nervous or simply forget what to do in a real situation. Visual ques can help aid your child remember what to do. Overtime, you can fade away the visual ques as your child is feeling more comfortable to handling situations.

3. Role Play Different Situations.

Role playing can be quiet beneficial. I often recruit my elder son , Rohan to help role play different situations. Niam loves his brother and likes to work with him.

4. Take Data

Use one of our free data sheets to record data. Break down the task of saying sorry. We have a ready made How To Apologize Data Sheet for you to use. Make your own for different situations and feelings.

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I hope you enjoy and find the When To Say Sorry Social Story Useful.

 Persons With Autism Can Be Independent With Proper Accommodations.

Accommodations can be imperative to helping persons with autism be successful. What does this mean? It can be instructions given to a person they way they understand it. For example, language in visual cues, small sentences or special/more  space.

Purchase this beautiful necklace of a print of Niam’s original art. Wear it around your neck and be inspired.



Niam wants to work. He does not want to be dependent despite his disabilities. This is a good thing. We have to understand children with autism have the same feelings wants and desires as neurtypicals.


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