Social Thinking Articles


10 DOs and DON'Ts for Teaching Superflex

Do Dont Teaching Superflex

Updated: April, 2022
© 2022 Think Social Publishing, Inc.

We have enjoyed hearing from so many people around the world about their love of the Social Detective, Superflex, the Team of UnthinkaBots (previously called Unthinkables) and Thinkables. Did you know that most of the characters were either co-developed, inspired, described, illustrated, and invented by neurodivergent clients and students over the years? In fact, a few years ago we asked neurodivergent kids to submit their ideas for Unthinkables/UnthinkaBots and they came up with over 500! You’ll find many of their amazing imaginary characters and their powers in the book, Social Town Citizens Discover 82 New Unthinkables for Superflex to Outsmart!

As with all products within the Social Thinking Methodology, the Detective/Superflex series is a work in progress. We continue to rely on our clients, both considered neurodivergent and neurotypical, to help shape the way we teach and the materials we publish. We also rely on educators, clinicians, and parents to test and critically evaluate the products that eventually make it into classrooms and clinics. As you read the DOs and DON'Ts that follow, see how many align with your own experiences. If you’re new to using Detective/Superflex, this guide will hopefully help you teach using these tools with fidelity and compassion.



DO start by teaching how to be a social OBSERVER (Social Detective) before introducing them to their Superhero (Superflex).
Superflex strategies rely on having an awareness of our own and others’ words and actions. This means we always start by teaching through the lens of what the child observes first (their perspective). We begin by teaching them to be aware of the many different social landscapes and explore what their expectations are of what others do and say.


TIP: We know kids love comics, so we introduce social observation and socially based problem solving in You Are a Social Detective! This will help you teach information starting with basic Social Thinking Vocabulary and concepts.

DON'T rush to teaching about Superflex and the UnthinkaBots.


We know kids want to launch into learning about the UnthinkaBots and Thinkables but learning core Social Thinking concepts is a slow and deep learning process.


TIP: Many kids need to learn to socially observe, which is why we start with Social Detective. People who skip teaching social observations often find themselves slipping into old habits of "telling" students what they need to focus on rather than supporting them in figuring out their own social goals.


DO emphasize that Superflex isn't a comic book character.  We are all Superflexes – Superflex is Me and Superflex is You!


Superflex Aiden in the comic book is just one example of a Superflex. There are lots of other examples of different kids and what their Superflexes look like (see Posters, last page of Detective comic, etc.). Make sure to stress when reading the comic, that the image of the blonde Caucasian boy is what Aiden’s Superflex looks like. All of us have a Superflex that looks exactly like we do. The lessons in the curriculum are really only helpful if kids understand that they can transform themselves into their own Superhero and take on their own adventures!

DON'T use Superflex if students don't have a clear understanding of the difference between fantasy/pretend and reality.


CONSIDER THIS: We are asking students to playfully use their imaginations to pretend imaginary creatures (UnthinkaBots and Thinkables) are in their brains. So, it's critical that kids understand that they don't literally have a rock in their brains or a Brain Eater octopus lurking in their heads! Not all students understand the difference between the real and the pretend world. If your student does not easily understand real vs. pretend, then please do not use these materials. The curriculum is written for kids who are 7-10 years old.


DO remind students that we ALL have UnthinkaBots and Thinkables. Empower kids to figure out their own team of UnthinkaBots and Thinkables. Students are much more motivated when participating in their learning.


TIP: Start by letting students know that YOU have your own UnthinkaBots team that you are working hard to manage with your Thinkable powers. Let them know that it's best to take on only one or two at a time. After all, that's all you can handle!

DON'T use UNTHINKABOT terms to describe the child or person. NEVER say "You're being a Glassman" or "Stop being such a Rock Brain."


TIP: Instead, describe the actions that are part of an UnthinkaBot’s powers and then encourage kids to explore which UnthinkaBots are near. For instance, "Wait! I think there are UnthinkBots in the room right now! I asked everyone to line up for library, but I still see kids cruising around the room. Which UnthinkaBot has invaded our room?” [Body Drifter] or “I’m noticing that you are all giving each other space in the line. Which of the Thinkable powers are you activating right now? [Space Base].


DO link Superflex and the UnthinkaBots and Thinkables to academics and content standards.


TIP: What better way to encourage learning than to wrap something as motivating as Superflex and the UnthinkaBots and Thinkables into literature! State Standards focus on teaching—along with other easily connected targets—POINT of VIEW. You can use picture books, works of fiction, videos and real-life playground examples to have students figure out which Thinkables or UnthinkaBots are in the brains of the characters in a story.


DON'T teach about the UnthinkaBot characters without teaching strategies to manage them! Strategies to manage UnthinkaBots are called Thinkable powers.


TIP: The Team of UnthinkaBots are fun to learn about but there is no real teaching power without also learning strategies to manage them = Thinkable powers.


DO use the Social Detective and Superflex strategies in both Tier 1 and Tier 2 settings. The strategies are for all kids and many schools have adopted the concepts into classrooms, school wide and district wide.

DON'T use the Superflex curriculum with students who are just emerging into language (single words or short phrases) or are learning to talk about thoughts and thinking.


WHY? Superflex, along with most concepts in the Social Thinking Methodology rely on metacognition (thinking about thinking) and social metacognition language (thinking and talking about thoughts, thinking, and emotions). Please be mindful that the Social Thinking Methodology and Superflex are not a great match for all students.


Let your common sense be your guide!
DO be cautious of the developmental age for Superflex.


Superflex was written for 3rd-5th graders. Some 2nd grade classrooms have also adopted Detective/Superflex. This is okay as long as there are tools in place to support students who might need extra teaching.

DON'T use Superflex concepts and strategies with preschoolers.


Younger students typically lack the self-awareness and self-regulation to identify and manage UnthinkaBots. They may have fun learning the names of the characters. However, do not push children of this age to figure out how to manage UnthinkaBots.


DO think of Superflex concepts within the scope of Social Emotional [and Academic] Learning (SE[A]L) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Also, take a look at to learn about social emotional learning and for more information related to PBIS.

DON'T turn Superflex concepts or UnthinkaBots into a behavior plan or teach in a behavioral or punitive way. Behavioral teaching can strip the thinking part of the process and encourages students to memorize social behaviors which is in opposition to how we encourage teaching.


DO take plenty of time to teach from many different angles and perspectives.


Consider that many of the UnthinkaBots and Thinkables can be included in PE, science, art, math and other subjects and environments. Be wary of trying to teach these complex concepts over a short period of time or only in one situation (e.g., therapy room).


It's okay to have summer camps or semester-long groups, but be realistic in your expectations given the short period of time with limited exposure across a variety of situations and environments.

DON'T rely on the Superflex handouts, the Superflex poster, and the Rock Brain comic book as your only tools to teach and build Superflex concepts.


The Superflex Curriculum Package comes in TWO parts, the Rock comic book and Curriculum. This set can get separated in a school district.  The Rock Brain comic book by itself does not include teaching.


The Thinkables are newer to the Superflex series. Two of them can be found in: Superflex and Kool Q. Cumber to the Rescue! and Superflex and Focus Tron to the Rescue!


DO involve parents/caregivers and make sure everyone is on the same page about what Detective and Superflex are teaching. These curricula were never developed to cure, fix, stop, eliminate, or extinguish behaviors. They are to boost awareness, give strategies for social problem solving, and empower students to be proactive in the self-regulation needed to meet their own goals.


Have students practice explaining how they might teach their parents/caregivers about Superflex and the UnthinkaBots and Thinkables. Have the children try to figure out which UnthinkaBots get into the adults’ brains in their lives too

DON'T let fun lessons become a way for kids to use violent vocabulary related to managing the UnthinkaBots (kill, destroy, mutilate, etc.).


Teach kids that we simply manage our UnthinkaBots. They don't die and they are always around, even if not active in your brain. They might be active in another person’s brain instead. If students have a hard time understanding this, then they probably aren't ready for Superflex quite yet!


STOP using if kids become obsessed with the UnthinkaBots, or SHIFT to teaching Superflex ONLY with the Thinkables.


DO have fun and be creative!


We've developed many fun characters in the form of 14 original Thinkables and UnthinkaBots, but there are so many more! Most importantly, have fun and encourage your children or students to develop their own characters.

DON'T sell what you create!


Superflex, the UnthinkaBots (previously called Unthinkables), and Thinkables names, images, and the materials are all copyright protected. That means you should not create new products or make products available for sale to others on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers. This is a copyright violation. While we want you to use what you create in your own classroom or home, please do not post and sell your version anywhere! If you are confused about what's okay or not, please read two documents on our website about Trademark and Attribution for further guidance.

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