Superflex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum Package - Autism Awareness
Superflex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum Package

Superflex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum Package

Author: Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner
Publishing Info: Paperback 100 pages / 2007
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Looking for an engaging way to teach social awareness and self-regulation? Superflex, to the rescue! Kids around the world are having fun learning strategies and practicing new skills to boost their “Superflex powers,” so they don’t realize they’re improving their self-regulation and flexible-thinking abilities! (New to Superflex? See what it’s all about in this short article.)

IMPORTANT: The first book in the Superflex series is You are a Social Detective!, which builds social awareness—the foundation of self-regulation. Please spend time teaching You are a Social Detective! before using the Superflex Curriculum with kids.

What’s included:

Superflex Curriculum: The 106-page curriculum contains lessons, activities, character profiles, and materials to create a personalized Superflex Superhero Training Academy for your students. Kids learn they each have Superflex (a flexible-thinking superhero) inside their brains. Superflex helps them take on the Team of Unthinkables* (we are officially changing Unthinkables to UnthinkaBots over the course of 2021-22), cartoon-like characters who embody different behaviors and challenges such as Rock Brain, who makes people get stuck on their own ideas, and Glassman, who makes people have huge upset reactions to small problems. The curriculum outlines the powers of each of the 14 Unthinkables and teaches strategies to help students subdue each Unthinkable as it invades their brains.

Introductory Storybook: Superflex Takes on Rock Brain and the Team of Unthinkables, is a 21-page storybook that tells the story of how Superflex came to be a superhero. The children enter Superflex’s hometown, Social Town, and learn about the cast of sneaky Unthinkables who are trying to invade the brains of everyone who lives there. Superflex and his sidekick dog, Bark, go on their first mission to try to save the citizens of Social Town from the wrath of unflexible thinking brought on by the Unthinkables.

Why people around the world are using Superflex

Many children (with and without diagnoses) have difficulty regulating their behavior. Superflex provides a fun forum in which they can explore their challenges and identify ways to modify their thoughts and behavior in different settings. Depicting behaviors as cartoon characters (a.k.a. the Unthinkables) helps students learn about their own behavior in a non-threatening way. Superflex empowers and motivates students to self-regulate—reducing meltdowns and anxiety as students develop their own inner superhero.

Children with diagnoses who respond well to Superflex teachings often have autism levels 1 and 2, ADHD, social communication disorders, and others.

How do I “teach Superflex”?

First, teach You are a Social Detective! to help kids develop a solid foundation of social awareness so they can get the most out of using Superflex teachings. The Superflex Curriculum was designed to be used only after students have practiced being a “social detective”.

The curriculum is intended to be taught to children ages 7 to 10+, but can be tailored for use with younger and older kids. When teaching about Superflex to kids ages 5 to 7 or older kids who are immature, focus on developing awareness that their brains generate the powers of the Thinkables and Unthinkables. With ages 8 and up, if kids are able, encourage them to use self-regulation strategies to defeat the Unthinkables.

How to teach Superflex to kids ages 8+ (with average maturity): First, read the introductory Superflex storybook to introduce students to the characters. Then, read aloud from the curriculum for 20 minutes or so per day, depending on what your students can handle. The curriculum introduces the concepts of Superflex and the Team of Unthinkables through a series of lessons. Start by talking about how the brain works, how social information is part of the brain, how we can change our behavior, the flexible-thinking our brain is expected to do (represented by Superflex) and the thoughts that challenge our brains from doing our best (represented by the Unthinkables). Each lesson stands on its own and may take multiple sessions to teach. Teach slowly to help kids deeply understand the information and begin to integrate the concepts into their own thinking and behavior.

There is no “finish line” for working on these concepts. Once the concepts are taught through the curriculum, the next step is to help students 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 a student to 1) identify when Glassman 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! Avoid only talking about Superflex during times of poor behavior—it’s really important to praise kids when you see them using Superflex strategies and thinking flexibly. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in motivating kids to improve their flexible thinking. Learn more key insights on how to teach Superflex in this free webinar.

Superflex is ME and YOU, and YOU, too!

It’s important to teach students that because Superflex lives within them, their Superflex looks like THEM. Superflex is not defined by a specific gender or ethnicity. Main character Aiden’s Superflex looks like HIM (the Superflex we see in the books), but my Superflex looks like ME, and your Superflex looks like YOU!