Blog 5-June, 2018
Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Collaborative Problem Solving (now called Collaborative Proactive Solutions) and Social Thinking all have some very important concepts that they share.
- Thoughts drive feelings which affect behavior
- Ones concept of Self (Bandura's self-efficacy) affects the decisions we make and how we interact with others
- If we feel we are being judged rather than being listened to, we are most likely not open to anything that person has to say (Rita Pierson and Ross Greene)
Social thinking is the trade name for a protocol of behavior remediation used with kids on the spectrum. It is a wonderful approach which uses humor, practical applications and visual characters. Some of the most popular characters with my students are Superflex, Rock Brain, Glass Man, Wasfunnyonce and Worry Wall.
The younger kids love it. The older kids can relate to the mirror that is held up of the character traits they are displaying. I would highly recommend looking into Michelle Garcia Winner, the developer of this user friendly approach for parents and educators who work with kids, all kids, with behavior challenges.
Once you are familiar with the different approaches, it is important to get to know the student. As I said in the last Blog, developing a personal rapport with a struggling student not only opens a door to working with the student, but, it gives you the information you need to choose an approach.
It is important to remember this point: While two or more students may exhibit the same annoying behaviors, they may be doing it for very different reasons. It is so important to understand why a child is doing what they do. What are they getting out of it? Does the child want attention? Is the child looking for social acceptance? Is there a skill set that is missing that would support the student in this particular situation? Maybe, the behavior is a fight or flight response. Remember fear can be a powerful motivator in behavior choices. If it is related to feeling unsafe (most often defined as an emotional safety), we need to know why? Vulnerability can trigger many thoughts that result in appraisals of a threat, accurate or not.
Safety is one of the reasons that kids respond differently to the same set of circumstances. They feel more comfortable in one class than another; they may feel the authority figure will have their back as the structure in that setting is more clearly and neutrally defined. Activation of a threat mode is often so automatic that the student does not have time to think about it.
I have found that these three approaches work with all students, regardless of their learning style. Often I will uses the Socratic method (found in CBT) of challenging behavior and combine it with the Rock Brain Thinker (or another appropriate character) found in Social Thinking. I have a hard hat worn by construction workers and I will put it on and repeat what the student is staying to me as I tap on the hat. Of course the relationship between teacher/parent must be developed first, so the child knows that they are not being judged. But with my students who are used to my antics, they calm down and laugh at me making a fool of my self. The student will usually say something like, "Ok, Ok....I get it. Is that really what I sound like?"
I would like to give you some resources for Social Thinking. Below is a link to videos available on the net, but of course there are many more. The second one in particular shows the Rock Brain character personification with a clip from "The Big Bang Theory". Bring any kids (people) you know to mind?
I hope that you will take the time over the summer to look into these three modes of working with students that have behavior issues. I will be back in the fall with, I hope, some interesting perspectives from some local authorities.
If there are some topics or particular situations you would to discuss, please send me some suggestions. Post your review of the Blogs so far, the good, the bad and the ugly! It helps me to develop my thinking.
Have a safe, fun and family filled vacation.