Help your Child Learn to Handle Social Situations with Autism Speaks Personalized Stories Templates

By Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks Logo At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. Call the Autism Response Team for help 888-AUTISM2 (US), e-mail, or visit

Your child – or a child of a friend of family member – may have been diagnosed with autism. Many children on the autism spectrum benefit from having stories that they can reference on a chart, a booklet, or an electronic device. These stories can help remind children with autism of appropriate behavior in various social situations.

Each child on the autism spectrum is unique. Different children react more or less successfully to different situations. Words and pictures that are effective for one child may not be as effective with another. A story for a child with autism is more effective if the story:

  • Uses your child’s name
  • Uses language that is familiar to your child
  • Is personalized for your child and customized for your child’s need
  • Contains elements that are of intense interest to your child
  • Is regularly reviewed with your child

Microsoft PowerPoint, the widely available business presentation tool, provides functionality that parents and therapists can use to develop personalized stories to explain social situations to youth with autism. To demonstrate how this common business and education tool can also be used to help families of children with autism, Autism Speaks, the University of Washington Autism Center, and Microsoft have collaborated on several PowerPoint templates that are available completely free of charge for parents and therapists to either use as is or to personalize for their child.

The PowerPoint personalized story templates provided are:

This article explains how to best use PowerPoint to customize these personalized story templates to explain certain social situations to your child.

Finding and Downloading the PowerPoint Templates

These PowerPoint personalized story templates can be downloaded from the following locations:

  • From the Microsoft template web site. Go to Search for “autism” and download the desired template.
  • From within Microsoft PowerPoint. Click on the File tab and then on the New command. Search for “autism” within templates.

Search for autism templates

Basic Editing Tasks to Personalize Your Child’s Story

These are YOUR family stories to personalize. Please modify these PowerPoint presentations so that they best represent your family's situation and the needs of your child.

 Common editing tasks are: 

  • Modify the text on a slide. Just click on the text you want to change and start typing.
  • Modify the images on a slide. Follow the instructions in Replacing Photo Placeholders below for instructions on how to add photos and clip art to your personalized story.
  • Modify "Things to Try" at the end of each template. The final slide in each template contains some suggestions for the child to try to improve his experience in these situations. Please modify the ideas on these slides with your own suggestions to help your child.
  • Add a new slide. Click on the Home tab and then on the New Slide command. You can also select what type of new slide you want by clicking on the drop down on the button.
  • While the above are simple ways you can modify these templates, PowerPoint provides many other features you can use to customize these templates to educate and entertain your child. Microsoft provides several free online training courses for PowerPoint and help articles that you may find helpful in editing these templates.   

Replacing Photo Placeholders with your own Personal Photos

Several of the personalized story templates contain a place holder graphics - a blue frame with a description of an image to include - that you should replace with photos of your child and or family in particular situations. These placeholder graphics look like this:

Photo Placeholder

To replace the photo placeholder with a picture from your computer: 

  1. Click on the small icon in the photo placeholder
  2. Use the dialog box to select the photo from your local computer or your network that you want to include.
  3. Click Open

You can also drag picture files from your computer directly on to a PowerPoint page or copy and paste it onto an existing object. For more help on additional ways to add images to PowerPoint presentations, visit Microsoft and search for “insert image”.

To insert a clip art illustration from, click on the slide that you object that you would like to replace. Then click on the Insert tab and then on the Clip Art command. Type a keyword for the image that you’d like to find and press Go.

Creating Your Own Personalized Story

The templates provided are only a small sample of the types of personalized stories you can create with Microsoft PowerPoint to help explain social situations to a child with autism. Every child with autism is different and needs help in different areas. You are encouraged to customize and improve on the simple concepts in these templates to create your own personalized stories to meet the social needs of your child.

If you would like to use the visual elements used in these personalized story templates in your own personalized stories, do the following:

  1. Open one of the current personalized story templates
  2. Delete all of the existing slides
  3. Save the presentation under a new name

The new blank presentation that you saved contains the Slide Master of the original Autism Speaks personalized story templates. The Slide Master contains the blue border, a variety of master pages with images and text in a variety of layouts, and other visual elements. The Slide Master of these Autism Speaks templates is designed to make creating simple personalized stories with the same look and feel as the Autism Speaks templates easier.

In addition, you may want to edit the Slide Master to create your own look and feel. For more instructions on how to create your own Slide Master, visit Microsoft and search for “slide master”

Printing Your Personalized Story for a Wall Chart or Booklet

After creating and editing your personalized story, you may want to print it out to use a wall chart or to collate in a booklet. PowerPoint provides the ability to print multiple slides of a presentation on a single sheet of paper which is useful for a wall chart or to cut out and collate in a booklet. To print multiple slides per page, use the following procedure:

  1. After completing you personalized story, click on the File tab and choose the Print command in PowerPoint
  2. Click on the drop down to select the number of slides to print out per page. Choosing 2, 4, or 6 slides per page is most effective.
  3. Click on the Print button

Six slides on a page

Saving Your Story for Display on an iPad

If your child will view the personalized story on an Apple iPad, save your PowerPoint presentation in the PDF format, and e-mail the PDF file or link to it put it on a file sharing service such as Microsoft OneDrive.

To save the personalized story as a PDF, use the following steps:

  1. After customizing your personalized story, click on the File tab and then on the Save As command.
  2. When the Save As dialog box appears, click on the Save As Type drop down, and select PDF.
  3. Click Save

More details on how to save Office documents as PDF files may be found on the article Save as PDF

You can also save your personalized story as a PDF to display your personalized story on other mobile devices such as an iPhone or Android device.

Saving Your Story for Display on a Windows PC or Mobile Device

If your child will view the personalized story on a Windows PC, then you can save your personalized story in native PowerPoint *.pptx format. In the native PowerPoint format, all of the advanced functions of PowerPoint are available if you choose to include these in your personalized story. Most personalized stories will not require this advanced functionality.

If you save your personalized story in native PowerPoint format, you can also display and edit your personalized story even if you do not have the most current version of PowerPoint on your computer or phone. Some options:

  • Most Internet browsers for both PCs and smartphones will display native PowerPoint files. How well the browser displays the personalized story and how easy it will be for your child to navigate through the story will depend on the browser.
  • PowerPoint files stored on Microsoft OneDrive can also be edited via your browser.
  • PowerPoint files created and edited on PowerPoint on a Windows PC can also be viewed and edited using PowerPoint for the Macintosh
  • Presentations that utilize advanced PowerPoint functionality can also be viewed via the free PowerPoint Viewer for Windows available from Microsoft

Enhanced Functionality for PowerPoint 2013 users

This article is based on functionality available in both PowerPoint 2010 and PowerPoint 2007. Converters are available for users who have older versions of PowerPoint. In addition, Microsoft Office 2013 - including PowerPoint 2013 - provides enhanced functionality for parents and therapists creating personalized stories.

Enhanced functionality in PowerPoint 2013 that will help parents and therapists create personalized stories using PowerPoint include the following:

  • Integrated search for Internet images and personal photos on Facebook, Flicker, and OneDrive
  • Improved search for clipart and images on
  • Improved search for templates on from within PowerPoint
  • Easier saving and sharing of files to the Internet via Microsoft OneDrive


These personalized story templates are yours to customize and share with your child. As every child on the spectrum has different needs, these PowerPoint templates cover only a few of the social situations that your child may encounter. We also encourage you to create your own personal stories using PowerPoint to share with and help teach your child.

The information in this article aimed to provide you with some technical tips and tricks to customize these personalized stories using Microsoft PowerPoint and the Internet. But technology can only take one so far. It’s now up to you to add your creativity and love to make these personalized stories live for your child.

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Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks Microsoft Partner

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