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Superflex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum

by Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner
Comic Book by Stephanie Madrigal
Illustrated by Kelly Knopp

Item: 9780979292248

Age Group: Grades 3 through 5

Format: softcover
Pages: 106 (curriculum); 21 (comic book) plus CD

Superflex: A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum provides educators and parents with fun and motivating ways to teach elementary school students with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism how to build social skills. Superflex combines a book, comic book and CD to create a curriculum that develops in the students’ brains a superhero who overcomes the social thinking challenges that arise in different social contexts. The curriculum is for elementary school children (grades K-5) as well as immature older students. Prerequisite books to make this tool most effective: Thinking About You Thinking About Me and You Are A Social Detective.

The 100-page curriculum gives clear, motivating lesson plans to help educators and parents create a personalised Superflex Superhero Training Academy for their children. The children learn about how each of them have a Superflex superhero in their brain that their very own Team of Unthinkables, such as Rock Brain, Topic Twister Meister and Mean Jean, challenge daily.

The curriculum comes with a colourful storybook entitled, “Superflex Takes on Rock Brain and the Team of Unthinkables”. This comic book tells the story of how Superflex came to be. The children will enter Superflex’s town, Social Town, and learn about the cast of 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.

The curriculum package includes the Superflex curriculum, the storybook to be read and shown to students and a CD of all the worksheets and handouts to allow for easy printing of the colourful and engaging materials for your lessons.

Why this curriculum has been so successful:

Children with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s, ADHD and like challenges have difficulty regulating their own behaviours in the moment. Superflex provides a fun forum in which they can explore their challenges and identify ways to modify their thoughts and related behaviours in different settings. Superflex empowers students to help themselves – reducing meltdowns and anxiety as the students flex their superhero powers.

Good social skills can be defined as “adapting efficiently in each context”, meaning we have to read the hidden social rules in each context and then regulate our physical presence, eyes, language, emotions, reactions, etc. This requires highly flexible thinking. While some children learn to do this somewhat effortlessly, students with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and others have challenges in recognising and applying these concepts needed for social cooperation. “Social smarts” only occur when children incorporate all this information and regulate their bodies and minds to show he or she can effectively adapt to others across environmental contexts, demonstrating they are considering other people.

Students who do not learn this information intuitively, but who function with emerging meta-cognitive language, need to be taught these core concepts more explicitly. Superflex and the Team of Unthinkables show students when they are using their own “social smarts” versus when their brains are getting sidetracked in less social ways, as illustrated in the dominant thinking in the Team Of Unthinkables. Kids enjoy being superheroes in training, flexing and building their social thinking and social skills.

Sample pages:

“Visiting a foreign country is full of challenges for the person who does not speak the language or know the customs. The hurdle is much the same everyday for persons who have social thinking problems, such as those with Asperger’s Syndrome. The teacher, parent or other provider can find in ‘Superflex’ a vehicle for explaining those invisible thoughts that ‘get in the way of getting along.’”
- Betty R. Stockton, behavior intervention consultant, Arkansas Department of Education, Division of Special Education

“‘Superflex’ is absolutely brilliant. My students are thoroughly enjoying the process of exploring their own world through the events and discussions we have had regarding ‘Social Town’ and the ‘Team of Unthinkables’. From the very first therapy session I introduced ‘Superflex’, my students related to the characters and were able to openly and honestly discuss their own ‘Team of Unthinkables’ in an extremely nonthreatening and meaningful manner.”
Ann S. Meuel, a speech-language pathologist in the San Francisco Bay Area

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