The SOFA-app is free and can be downloaded (smartphone or tablet) from:
The SOFA-app has received a gold award for evidence-based practice.
Watch a video to find out how to download and use the SOFA-app
If you are a parent of an autistic child and would like training to use the SOFA-app as part of a research project, please watch this YouTube film for details of the project.
Using the app
There are two modes you can operate, Adult and Child mode.
The adult mode is for writing the stories. You can adapt stories from a library or create your own. You can also add images from a library or add your own. You then set up a child prolife and assign the story to a child. If you have more than one child, each child has their own profile. The adult is asked to rate how close the child is to achieving the goal every time a story is accessed.
The child mode is for reading the stories. The child can only access stories that have been assigned to them by the adult. The stories can be read by the child, by the adult, or by the app. The child is asked to rate how much they enjoyed the story every time the story is accessed.
You can also download a guide for writing stories.
Library of stories
The SOFA-app comes with a range of pre-written stories that you can use or adapt. You can also write your own stories. When you do this, you will be asked if you want them to be private (just for you) or public (shared with others). Shared stories will appear here as they become available.
Evidence supporting the SOFA-app
There are four peer-reviewed journal articles that provide evidence for the SOFA-app. These articles show that autistic children achieve the goal that has been identified for the story. Undesirable behaviours are reduced and desirable behaviours are increased, in both frequency and intensity. In addition, the child’s anxiety is reduced and the child’s understanding of the situation is increased.
Designing computer-based rewards with and for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual Disability.
This article describes how autistic children (with and without intellectual disability) helped inform the design of the SOFA-app.
A pilot Randomised Control Trial of digitally-mediated social stories for autistic children.
This article evidences that the SOFA-app is effective when compared with a control group who were read a poem.
Piloting a new digitally-mediated social story intervention for autistic children led by teachers within naturalistic school settings.
This article evidences that the SOFA-app is effective when used by classroom teachers in schools.
Digitally-mediated Social Stories support autistic children adapting to a change in a ‘real-world’ context.
This article evidences that the SOFA-app is effective in supporting autistic children adapt to the change of a going away to a school camp.
Mothers’ and practitioners’ insights on the use of digitally-mediated social stories with children on the autism spectrum: A convergent mixed-methods study
This article found that using the SOFA-app was felt to both empower mothers and enable self-determination for autistic children.
The impact of using digitally-mediated social stories on the perceived competence and attitudes of parents and practitioners supporting children with autism
This article demonstrates the benefits to both parents and practitioners who use the SOFA-app with autistic children.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Social Story Research: a Scoping Study of Published, Peer-Reviewed Literature Reviews
This article reviews the evidence for the effectiveness of socials stories.
As part of this research process, the SOFA-app collects data on how effective the stories are in helping autistic children achieve their goals. All data is securely stored in compliance with GDPR legislation.
By registering and submitting your personal details you consent to the University of Bath using your details for administering its database of stories and contributors for the purposes of this project, including managing your account (forgotten passwords etc).
Your personal data will not be made available publicly or disclosed to anyone else, and will not be used for any other purpose. You may request that your personal details are deleted, or change your consent for their use, at any time by writing to email@example.com
Where you submit a story which you agree can be made public, you consent to the story being made available on our website www.sofa-app.org for the purposes of the project. Please ensure that no personal data, which could identify you or anyone else, is contained in the story.
Reviews of the SOFA-app
We asked education professionals who had experience supporting autistic children to try the SOFA-app and tell us what they thought of it. Here’s what they said.
‘Innovative, simple, fun’
‘A very engaging and accessible way to create or find ready made social stories for every situation’
‘SOFA provides children on the spectrum with a multitude of fun stories to learn from’
‘Practical, Engaging, Accessible’
‘This app provides parent and educators with the possibility of creating social stories in an efficient and timely way’
‘It is a very fun and efficient way to present social stories to children’
‘SOFA app is a useful tool that will help parents or professionals working with individuals on the autism spectrum explain various situations, changes or any challenges being faced, in a fast and practical manner’
‘SOFA is a great way to create social stories quickly and with ease!’
The Stories Online For Autism (SOFA) app was developed with support from EPIC and the Inspire Foundation (Malta). The project was first developed by the Centre for Applied Autism Research (CAAR) and was funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project represents an interdisciplinary collaboration between the departments of Psychology and Computer Science at the University of Bath (UK). The researchers were Mark Brosnan, Hilary Johnson, Elizabeth Smith and Aurora Constantin. The SOFA-app was co-designed with the autism community.
Launch event for the SOFA-app
Watch a film of the launch event for SOFA-app and read the press release about SOFA-app.