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Social Thinking Articles

Where to Start When Using our Child-Centered Products: Social Detective and Superflex

Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke

Social Thinking Article
We are thrilled you are using Superflex®: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum and are finding its strategies motivating and helpful.

Our Superflex books and tools have been getting excellent feedback from both parents and professionals in terms of getting kids onboard and motivated to look at—and change—their own behaviors. Superflex products teach self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control using strategies initially introduced in other Social Thinking publications (e.g., Think Social: A Social Thinking Curriculum for School-Age Students, Thinking About You Thinking About Me).
 
While the Superflex world is motivating for many students, we have found that its accessibility and charm cause some to bypass the basic Social Thinking concepts and jump immediately into trying to get kids to defeat their Unthinkables. The expectation then becomes that students will change their behavior (to defeat the Unthinkables) without learning more deeply about how to problem solve and how their actions are impacting others. 
 
This prompted us to write You Are a Social Detective: Explaining Social Thinking to Kids, a storybook that provides foundational information students should have in order to be more successful with Superflex. Social Detective focuses on Social Thinking Vocabulary, the starting place for direct work with grade K–5 students.
 
Social Detective teaches these kids to become detectives to help them observe the world around them, develop a Social Thinking toolbox (using their eyes, ears feelings, brain), and understand the connection between expected/unexpected events and the feelings associated with them. As students develop a working knowledge of the expectations they have for others in the social world and that the world has expectations for them as well…then they are ready to learn how to self-monitor using their inner Superflex to meet those greater expectations. 
 
Thus, there are really two important steps:
 
First, students must see the larger view of the social world by learning to identify and develop a better understanding of social expectations (this is summarized in Social Detective but taught in much more detail in some of our other books for students, such as Social Thinking and Me [a two-book set for ages 9–11] and in our books for parents and professionals mentioned in the second paragraph above).
 
Next, and often only after they understand the social world via their own perspective as a detective or observer, students work on being like Superflex and developing their self-awareness to assist with self-monitoring and self-control in the greater world of social expectations. 
 
It is really important that we don’t rush to teach our students self-control before they have a solid grasp of self-awareness. Some kids may not ever be candidates for the Superflex curriculum, even though they love the stories. If you find that your child/student doesn't have a clear understanding between what's real and what’s pretend, gets anxious thinking about the Unthinkables, becomes obsessed with the Unthinkables, or just doesn't enjoy the concepts, then please discontinue using the curriculum and change to focusing on the strategies taught by the Thinkable characters, as well as non-Superflex related lessons. We hope this helps to put it all into perspective!  
 

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