Superflex®: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum provides educators, parents and therapists fun and motivating ways to teach students with social and communication difficulties (undiagnosed or diagnosed, such as Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, high-functioning autism or similar). The three-part cognitive behavioral curriculum helps students develop further awareness of their own thinking and social behaviors and learn strategies to help them develop better self-regulation across a range of behaviors.
The Superflex Curriculum Package Includes
- The Superflex Curriculum: 106 page book to guide adults in teaching the core concepts.
- All handouts and relevant teaching materials are included in the book.
- Superflex Takes on Rock Brain and the Team of Unthinkables, a 21-page comic book which introduces the basic Unthinkable characters through which we teach the curriculum.
When should you use the Superflex Curriculum?
Teachers, parents and therapists should only use Superflex after the core concepts introduced in the book You Are A Social Detective (a different product) are thoroughly taught to the student.
What ages is it suitable for?
The curriculum is geared to primary school children (grades 1-6) but can be used with immature older students who respond to visual books.
Establishing a Superflex Superhero Training Academy
The Superflex curriculum book offers clear lesson plans to help educators, therapists and parents create a personalized Superflex Superhero Training Academy for their students. The students learn how each of them have Superflexible capacities in their brains that can take on this Team of Unthinkables (Rock Brain, Topic Twister Meister, Mean Jean and Glassman to name a few), each embodied in a cartoon character as a different behavior and challenge, accompanied by specific strategies to help subdue them. For instance, Rock Brain makes people get stuck on their own ideas, or Glassman makes them have huge upset reactions. Each of the 14 characters’ powers are described and teaching materials include specific strategies that can help students subdue the Unthinkable that is invading their brain. You can even print cards, Superflex award badges and handouts from the book.
The Superflex Comic Book
The Superflex Curriculum package includes a colorfully illustrated 21-page storybook, Superflex Takes on Rock Brain and the Team of Unthinkables. This book tells the story of how Superflex came to be. The children enter Superflex’s town, Social Town, and learn about the cast of sneaky Unthinkables who are trying to overtake and rid the town of Superflex forever. Superflex and his sidekick dog, Bark, go on their first mission to try to save the citizens of Social Town.
Why this Curriculum Has Been So Successful
Children with HFA, Asperger’s, ADHD and other social emotional learning challenges have difficulty regulating their own behaviors in the moment. Superflex provides a fun forum in which they can explore their challenges and identify ways to modify their thoughts and related behaviors in different settings. Depicting behaviors as comic book characters helps students learn about their own behaviors in a non-threatening way, while the superhero Superflex helps build the thinking required to regulate those behaviors. Superflex empowers and motivates students to help themselves – reducing meltdowns and anxiety as the students discover and develop their own inner superhero.
Good social skills can be defined as considering other people and “adapting efficiently in each context.” To do this we have to read the hidden social rules in each social situation and then regulate our physical presence, eyes, language, emotions, and reactions.
This requires highly flexible thinking. While some children learn to do this somewhat effortlessly, many students, even advanced, so-called normal-thinking students, have challenges in recognizing and applying these concepts that are at the heart of social cooperation and social problem solving. “Social smarts” only occur when students incorporate all this information and regulate their bodies and minds to show they can effectively adapt to others across environmental contexts.
Students who do not learn this information intuitively, but who function with emerging language-thinking skills, need to be taught these core concepts more explicitly. Superflex and the Team of Unthinkables help students understand and become more aware of their own thinking and behaviors: when they are using their social smarts versus when their brains are getting sidetracked in less positive and social ways. The different Unthinkables help them zoom in on what challenge they may be facing in the moment and the strategies help them learn to overcome that Unthinkable’s powers. Kids enjoy being superheroes in training, flexing and building their social thinking and social skills.
How is Superflex Taught?
Superflex was designed to be used only after students have been introduced to the Social Thinking concepts included in our children’s book, You Are A Social Detective, and they have worked through related activities from our book, Think Social: A Social Thinking Curriculum for School Age Students (Winner, 2005). This gives our learners a good foundation in being a “Social Thinker” and a “Social Detective” so they get the most out of using Superflex.
The Superflex Curriculum book is to be read in smaller sections to students. It will take several days of reading 20 minutes at a time or so, depending on the level of social thinking and social learning challenges in your students.
We introduce the concepts of Superflex and the Team of Unthinkables through a series of lessons. We start by talking about how the brain works, how social information is part of the brain, how we can change our behavior, what our brain is expected to do socially (Superflex) and then the thoughts that challenge our brains from doing our best (the Unthinkables). Each lesson stands on its own.and each lesson may take multiple sessions to teach so that kids grasp what we’re teaching and can begin to integrate into their own thinking and behavior.
There is no “finish line” for working on these concepts. Once they are introduced within the 15 or so lessons included, the next step is to help students continue to use the vocabulary and strategies during real-time situations and interactions. It’s one thing to talk about Glassman as part of a lesson; it’s much more challenging for students to 1) identify when Glassman thinking is invading his or her brain, 2) think about the situation and how the student’s behavior is affecting others, and 3) employ one or more of the strategies taught in the Superflex Curriculum!
While the lessons should be taught at a discrete time (20-40 minutes), the application of the lessons is 24/7 in teachable moments. The teacher will want to reinforce how often kids’ Superflex and their superflexible social thinking is showing up, rather than just talk about when the Unthinkables are lurking about. More on how to teach is explained in the curriculum.
Superflex is ME and YOU, and YOU, too!
Superflex was created to help students understand more about their own flexible and not-so-flexible thinking. We can all relate on some level to imagining what it would be like to be a superhero or how much fun it would be to have superpowers. In teaching the Superflex curriculum, we want students to learn that Superflex is unique to each individual and is active when we’re thinking flexibly. There’s not one gender or ethnicity for Superflex. My Superflex will look like me, yours like you, and a teacher’s Superflex will look like the teacher! In our books and materials, we visually portray Aiden’s Superflex, so he’s male. But Superflex can be tall, short, light-skinned, dark-skinned, male, or female.
Be sure in teaching Superflex that you convey this concept to your students so they are not confused and think that Superflex is only a male superhero. Superflex is YOU!
How Superflex Connects to the Larger Social Thinking Methodology
Superflex is just one of many products we use with students to build their social thinking abilities. A more comprehensive two-book curriculum, Social Thinking and Me (Winner and Murphy, 2016) is designed for students in 4–7th grade to read as they engage in social emotional learning in treatment groups, inclusion based classrooms and/or at home. This set provides explicit instruction to help our students develop some of the information they need to create and strengthen their superflexible abilities and defeat the Unthinkables.
Learn How to Teach Superflex
Michelle Garcia Winner, Superflex co-author and the founder of Social Thinking, shares tips for teaching ages 8-11 with Social Thinking products (including Superflex products), in this free, recorded webinar (the next link takes you to the USA Social Thinking website) Get the inside scoop!
Superflex is ME – Free Download
Each of us has our own Superflex inside, a superflexible thinking superhero that can help us work through social challenges. In this video Ryan Hendrix, one of our Superflex conference day presenters, describes how to use this lesson and the free downloadable template below to help your students or children create their own personal Superflex! Download Now
Reinforcements in the SUPERFLEX Series
- For: Parents and professionals
- Ages: 7 – 10+
- Published: 2008
- Publisher: Think Social Publishing
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: Curriculum 106, Comic book 21
- Item: 2248