The Rubber Chicken Story

Michelle introduced the rubber chicken into her teachings when she found that her high school students were responsive to unusual objects introduced into the teaching setting. While the rubber chicken is used in a politically incorrect manner, it usually wins in attracting followers and helping students to develop more self-awareness around their areas of deficit.

The rubber chicken has multiple uses:

  • To serve as a fidget toy for sensory seeking hands.
  • To help children and adults accept that they don’t do everything perfectly and that is OK!
    • Many persons with social cognitive deficits are perfectionists thinking that they must do everything perfectly. However, to be a social thinker is to realize that it is OK to make mistakes. NO PERSON has ever succeeded in not blowing it socially multiple times in their life.
    • At the clinic, the rubber chicken is placed on the therapy table for students to “bonk themselves on the head” (gently) when they make a social error. For example, when a student explained how he had written a long letter of complaint to someone because that person did not smile at them, they got to bonk themselves on the head with the chicken. As odd as this sounds, it appears to work well in helping students to recognize and laugh at their own errors rather than get really uptight about them. Teachers also get self imposed rubber chicken "bonks" when they make errors.
    • Once the chicken is introduced and the concept of the head bonk during socially goofy moments is reviewed, we don’t always have to use the chicken. At times we just say, “that was a rubber chicken moment”. This concept appears to have great carryover into the home and at school when kids can then define their goof-ups as “rubber chicken moments”. The fact that we can laugh at errors and then learn from them is key towards a positive approach to helping students develop better self-awareness that is critical for social success.

©2012 Social Thinking Publishing - Michelle Garcia Winner