Working with/against the Unthinkables
Many of you may be familiar with the Unthinkables. It is a name coined by Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner. They are part of the Superflex Curriculum that uses comic books and characters to teach strategies to conquer problem behaviors and gain thinking power over them. I was able to purchase the program through the generosity of our school parent group. This is the site for those who are interested. http://www.socialthinking.com/home
I have begun using the program with several of my students in small groups. So far I am impressed. I have a few students who are on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum and have difficulty with social pragmatics. They are often sensitive to anything that points out imperfections they may have. In the past, I’ve had difficulty getting them to participate in role playing. Their initial reaction is to declare an activity as boring and then not participate. Yep, my Destroyers of Fun. On cue, that is how we started out. The comic nature of the program roped them in and as soon as the props came out they included themselves.
The characters are a great feature of this program. They let the students step back and talk about problem behaviors in an unthreatening way. They actually start to recognize what they have in common with the characters. I was amazed how much information they had retained after three sessions and sending the parent letter home. They explained the characters and strategies to a guest therapist on the 3rd session. It appeared they had actually talked about the characters with their parents. I guess we all want to be super heroes deep down, and we all have those unthinkable moments we need to conquer.
I have been busy gathering materials to make the characters and props. You don’t necessarily need a lot of props. However they are useful in grab bags or quick role playing in limited space. Many children respond better to manipulatives and props then paper and pencil activities. A model of a brain is helpful to simulate the brain sensor. I’ve found it helpful to visit craft stores and thrift stores that have small toys, fast food characters, and pieces of toys. I’ve learned that even if your children have grown you should never throw those things out. Here is what I have gathered so far. Can you guess the characters?
Here is a quick way to make super hero capes. I found a large men’s short sleeve sport jersey in royal blue at the thrift store for fifty cents. I cut off the sleeves and came up to the neck and kept the neck band. The front and back gave me two capes. I cut off the lower cuff area on the sleeves. I then cut this circle and sewed each end to the neck band ends still attached to the cape. It was stretchy enough it could fit over a child’s head and I didn’t need to put on fastners. I did some hemming up the sides of the cape. This may not be necessary since it might be material that doesn’t fray.