Social Thinking Articles


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

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

Updated: Aug, 2021
© 2021 Think Social Publishing, Inc.

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* (we are officially changing Unthinkables to UnthinkaBots over the course of 2021-22) . 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!  


*Name Change from the Team of Unthinkables to the Team of UnthinkaBots

We have officially changed the name of the Team of Unthinkables to the Team of UnthinkaBots. The Superflex curriculum was born in 2008, and over its lifetime we have relied on input and ideas from clients, students, families, teachers, and therapists in both the neurodivergent and neurotypical worlds. Using their feedback and our own clinical experience, we have refined the curriculum series to include Thinkables, expand the characters in Social Town, and add the You Are a Social Detective, 2nd edition, storybook as a way to welcome social learners into the Superflex Universe. Recently, while meeting with neurodivergent adults, we discovered that the concept behind the creation of the Unthinkables was misunderstood and, at times, misused in classrooms and clinics by having certain Unthinkables represent children or people, rather than specific thoughts or actions.

To encourage interventionists to use these concepts in the manner intended, we are changing the name of Unthinkables to UnthinkaBots. With this new name, social learners can now imagine the Bots that try to control some of our thoughts and actions. For example, Was Funny Once releases SillyBots to get us to use humor at unexpected times and in unexpected situations. We all can learn to tackle the SillyBots with strategies and tools from the Social Thinking® Methodology. We hope you will enjoy imagining new ways to think about the UnthinkaBot characters in classrooms, small groups, and at home! One more thing. We replaced 4 of the 14 “first generation” characters with new names: Mean Bean (previously Mean Gene/Jean), Me-Gull (formerly One-sided Sid), Body Drifter (formerly Body Snatcher), and Blurt Out Blue (formerly Grump Grumpaniny).

We will be updating our products with these changes over the course of 2021 and 2022. It makes sense that we’re teaching students to be superflexible, since we, as publishers, also flex a lot as we learn. We hope you enjoy incorporating these important updates.

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