For the last few months, I've been using a comic book superhero social skills curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner to teach social thinking, flexibility, and calming strategies to my student with autism and pragmatic language difficulties. We've discussed the many different "bad guys" (a.k.a., Unthinkables) who can send our brain messages such as "be bossy!", or "have a super huge reaction to this problem!" or "demand things to be your way only!" and the superhero "Superflex" who is able to defeat these characters using social thinking strategies such as positive self talk, calming strategies, flexibility, and thinking about others' thoughts and feelings. The students have a good basic understanding of the Unthinkable bad guys now, and, this week, I felt they were ready for a generalization activity to pull it all together.
So, this week, for our third grade social skills group, I filled plastic eggs with pictures of various "Unthinkable" Characters from Michelle Garcia Winner's Superflex curriculum, and then had each student take turns finding an egg, reading the description of the "bad guy"/unthinkable, and then telling us how to "defeat" that bad guy using calming strategies or flexible social behaviors.
It was a great activity! The students in the group seemed to enjoy it, and really recalled useful calming strategies and self-talk phrases they could use in difficult situations. The resounding favorite phrase for the group? "No biggie!" (It's one of my favorite phrases, as well! Just ask my grad student intern, who hears me say it several thousand times per week!)
Michelle Garcia Winner's materials have been a breath of fresh air for my social skills practice. Students are highly motivated to engage with them, to read about the characters, to try out the strategies Superflex suggests, and are just generally excited to learn from these materials. One of my students has even written and acted in his own mini movie about Superflex and Rockbrain, and carries a picture of "Glassman" with his books to remind him not to "fall apart over every little thing."
I am so grateful that I have access to a plethora of wonderful materials for teaching social skills through a grant given to our school by the Public School Foundation. These materials are enriching not only my practice, but the practice of many of our other CHCCS SLPs, who have been borrowing them and learning to use them, as well.
If you're an SLP, how have you used Michelle Garcia Winner's social skills materials in your practice?