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AI in Occupational Therapy: A Guide to Creating Personalized Social Stories

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Written by Jaivin Anzalota, Creator of ELLA.KIDS

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, technological advancements continue to reshape the way students learn, and educators instruct. One area where technology has made significant strides is in the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is not only changing the way educators manage their classrooms but also how they cater to the unique needs of individual students. One promising application of AI in education is the creation of personalized social stories, a tool that school-based OT practitioners can leverage to ease transitions, teach calm-down strategies, and, more broadly, support students.

In this article, we will explore the capabilities of AI and introduce a new tool called Ella, which empowers OTPs to craft personalized social stories for students more efficiently than ever before.

The Power of AI in Education

Artificial intelligence is a field of computer science dedicated to creating systems that can perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence. These tasks encompass problem-solving, pattern recognition, language understanding, and more. AI systems can analyze vast amounts of data, recognize trends, and generate insights, making them invaluable tools for enhancing various facets of education.

Five Ways AI Can Be Used Today in Education

1. Adaptability: AI enables educators to tailor lessons and activities to the individual needs and learning styles of students. By generating alternative questions and activities, AI can enable educators to adjust lessons with little effort.

2. Efficiency: AI-driven automation reduces administrative burdens on educators, allowing them to focus more on actual teaching. Grading, scheduling, and data analysis can all be streamlined with AI tools, saving educators valuable time.

3. Accessibility: AI can enhance accessibility for students with disabilities. Text-to-speech and speech-to-text applications, for example, assist students with reading and writing difficulties.

4. Engagement: AI-powered interactive tools, such as virtual reality simulations or gamified learning platforms, can make learning more engaging and immersive for students.

5. Personalized Stories: AI-powered personalized social stories can play an important role in helping students transition smoothly between activities, adapt to routines, and reinforce essential calm-down strategies.

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Ella: AI-Generated Social Stories

Ella is an AI-powered tool developed specifically for school-based therapists and educators that streamlines the process of crafting custom visual stories with remarkable speed and efficiency.

Ella's power lies in its simplicity and effectiveness. With just a few inputs, school-based OTPs can quickly generate tailored visual stories for their students. Let's take a closer look at how Ella operates:

1. Customization: Ella allows OTPs to create specific stories about a student's routine, upcoming events, or challenging transitions. These stories may include the student's name, age, likeness, and the activity or situation.

2. AI-Powered Content Generation: Once the basic information is provided, Ella's AI algorithms get to work. They analyze the input and generate a personalized social story that is easy to understand, following social story best practices.

3. Visual Support: Ella's stories are rich in visual elements, making them highly accessible to students, including those with various learning challenges. Visual aids help students better comprehend and internalize the information presented in the story.

4. Fast Results: Unlike traditional methods of creating social stories that can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, Ella generates these stories in about a minute, using any device with a Web browser, allowing OTPs to focus more on their students.

See this example story: Sam's calm-down strategies at school: Movement breaks, quiet space, Yoga breaks, and quiet fidget toys. The story was created for Sam, a 7-year-old boy with red, messy hair.

Positive Impact on Students

The application of AI in the creation of personalized social stories has the potential to significantly benefit students in various ways:

1. Reduced Anxiety: Transitioning between activities or adapting to new routines can be anxiety-inducing for many students. Personalized social stories, created with Ella's help, can mitigate this anxiety by providing a clear and comforting narrative.

2. Improved Understanding: Visual aids in social stories make it easier for students to understand the expectations and steps involved in a particular activity or routine.

3. Enhanced Communication: Social stories can be used to improve communication skills, allowing students to express their needs and feelings more effectively.

4. Independence: By using social stories consistently, students can become more self-reliant in managing transitions and routines, promoting independence and self-confidence.

Incorporating AI-powered Social Stories in Occupational Therapy

For occupational therapy practitioners working in schools, incorporating AI tools like Ella into their practice can be a game-changer. Here are some steps that OTPs can take to integrate AI-driven personalized social stories into their work:

1. Training and Familiarization

OTPs should practice to become proficient in using AI tools like Ella. Familiarity with the software's features and capabilities is essential to maximize its potential.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration with educators, speech therapists, and other specialists is key to ensuring that personalized social stories align with students' overall support plans.

3. Customization

OTPs should input accurate and detailed information into Ella to ensure that the generated social stories address the specific needs of each student. While a story title like "Sam can calm down" will produce an accurate narrative, a more specific title like "Sam can calm down using X, Y, Z strategies" will be more personalized.

4. Regular Assessment

OTPs should regularly assess the effectiveness of the social stories and make adjustments as needed. This ongoing evaluation ensures that the stories continue to meet the student's evolving needs.


Looking for mentorship on when and how to use social stories in school-based OT?

Become a member of the OT Schoolhouse Collaborative, where you can ask me any questions you have about social stories, sensory processing, and other school-based OT topics. You'll also get access to our growing library of AOTA-approved courses, resources, and research that we have built for school-based OT practitioners just like you.

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The Future of AI in Education

As AI continues to advance, its impact on education is only expected to grow. AI-powered tools like Ella are just the beginning of a transformative journey that promises to make education more accessible, personalized, and effective. The possibilities are vast, from AI-driven tutoring systems to adaptive learning platforms that adjust content in real-time based on student performance.

School-based OT practitioners are well-positioned to embrace these advancements, integrating AI tools into their practice to provide even more targeted and effective support for students with diverse needs. By doing so, they contribute to a more inclusive future for education, where every student can thrive.

In conclusion, AI in education, exemplified by tools like Ella, is changing the way occupational therapists support students in their transitions and routines. These AI-generated personalized social stories hold the potential to reduce anxiety, improve understanding, and enhance independence for students, making it an invaluable addition to the toolkit of school-based OTPs.

As technology continues to evolve, the role of AI in education will only become more significant, offering exciting opportunities to improve the lives of students and educators alike.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to check out to create a social story for the student you are thinking of right now.


👋 Jaivin and Jayson

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