If you work with clients on social-emotional skills, then this blog post is for you! Today, I have Allie Gallinger, a speech pathologist who works in Toronto, ON with students who have pragmatic language disorders. Allie is coming on the blog to share how you can structure your therapy sessions when teaching flexible thinking. I think you are going to love it!
What is Flexible Thinking?
At Express Yourself Speech, we frequently work with clients that have a hard time with flexible thinking. These clients tend to get stuck on what they want to do and have a hard time going with the flow. Whether they only want to talk about Roblox, don’t like when a plan changes or have difficulty when the rules of a game are altered, being a flexible thinker can be really hard. Here are some of my tips and tricks for working on this topic with my clients.
How to Introduce Flexible Thinking
Step 1: Mystery Bag
When I am in person with my clients, I like to hide a rock and a sponge in a bag (This can also be done ahead of time with parents’ help if you are only doing teletherapy). I have my clients feel the two items and describe them without looking at them. While they do this, I write down their descriptor words. Some words that often come up:
Discuss the words flexible vs. stuck
I might need to ask some leading questions such as: Does the hard object bend? Is it stuck? What about the soft object? Can it change its shape?
After taking out the objects and examining them, we talk about the words flexible vs. stuck. The rock is stuck. It is hard. It is rough. It cannot bend. It cannot change shapes. The sponge is soft. It is bendy. You can change its shape. It is flexible!
Go on a Scavenger Hunt!
Step 2: Scavenger Hunt
After this activity, I have my clients go around the room and find three objects that are flexible and three objects that are stuck. We discuss each object similar to step 1.
Watch a YouTube Video to Identify Flexible Thinking
Step 3: Video
The last step in teaching the concept is showing this video from Sesame Street. While it is geared towards younger children, I have still had success showing it to my client’s ages 8-11. Depending on the needs of the client, I often watch it through once and then watch it a second time while pausing. Some of the highlights from the video that I like to focus on with discussion questions are:
- 0:32 – When Grover finds out that today’s word is flexible and not bouncy, is he being a flexible or stuck thinker?
- 1:10 – How do you think a plan can be flexible?
- 1:20 – When the plans change, is Grover flexible at first?
- 1:26 – Does Grover end up being flexible or stuck?
- 1:30 – Have you ever had a plan change? How did you react?
Need More Resources and Lesson Plan Ideas for Teaching Flexible Thinking
Loving this lesson plan for teaching flexible thinking? Allie has more great resources and activities to use in your therapy groups at Express Yourself Speech. Head over to the blog to check those resources out and feel way more confident with your pragmatic therapy plans!
How Do You Teach Flexible Thinking In Therapy?
What ways to do you help your students learn about flexible thinking? Share in the comments resources and activities you have found successful. The flexible thinking vocabulary and approach is from the Social Thinking curriculum. To see more ideas on how you can teach students about using flexible thinking to build social-emotional skills, head to Allie’s blog post HERE. It is filled with great ideas and resources!