Thinking bubbles… What a great topic! This was not even on my blogging docket yet, but my friend over at Babies First Fitness gifted me with the dry erase board below and I could not help myself. Who here, is familiar with the concept of “thinking bubbles”? We have seen these little bubbles for years in cartoons and such, but who would have thought to use the bubble as a therapy strategy?! Genius! A few weeks ago I was conversing with my mom; I don’t remember the gist of the topic but I do remember looking at her saying, “My thinking did not match your thinking bubble, which is why I did not understand exactly what you were talking about.” This causes me to chuckle as I am typing this post. Is it really not the cause of many communication breakdowns, when the two thought bubbles do not match? I did go on to explain that I was not thinking about that specific topic in that given moment. Once I understood the topic we were able to move forward with a discussion.
Do you have a kiddo that as soon as the child lays eyes on you, the child starts talking about the most prominent topic in his noggin? Often times without a context? Do you have a child who struggles with communication trying to piece together his/her thoughts? Throw in some grammatical and syntactical errors and the topic is more challenging to discern? Then, you are not able to follow in his/her excitement? This leads to this week’s topic… thinking bubbles and thoughts about how “We can make it better.” (If you have not met Bob and Maria in this book, I am a fan! Brilliant use of line drawings which many of our kids love. Coupled with simple sentences for the kiddos to read… Great resource).
A couple of weeks ago a colleague says “I bought you a present”. Instantly giddy I wonder what the gift can be! A “thinking bubble” dry erase board (this one is from Target). Holy Moly! What a great gift! Previously, I had been hand drawing the thought bubbles which works great too. I have used the concept of thinking bubbles with many of my kiddos but today I thought I would share two instances and then look forward to hearing your experiences. The first kiddo is a 5 year old who is starting to read. She is known to verbally protest activities. She attempts to barter for candy and free time. Using my new present I wrote down the activities in a numbered format and let the kiddo pick a couple of activities too. A numbered tab system was incorporated as well to visually depict how many trials on one given task. This kiddo consistently has good therapy sessions when visuals are implemented and works well with thought bubbles. Why do these types of strategies work or increase the likelihood of success? My experience is that when the expectation is clear and a clear beginning and an ending is present, the performance increases and the bartering decreases. The child’s anxiety decreases. Plus, if I let the child pick an activity as well as pick the order of activities the child feels like he/she has some control. During the session if the child starts to “think about” another idea or topic we bring the child back to the “thinking bubble” and what the group is thinking about with the visual prompt in place. Any of you have to-do lists at home? Who is not guilty of going to do something else because that one item on the to-do list just does not sound like fun? So, you may just ignore the list or do something fun that is not on the list. But you go back to that item because it is on the list. Ever go into a situation that you are nervous about? What are they thinking about? What will they want you to do? It is the same for the kids. Our kids anticipate some activities will be hard. Let the child pick one or two items or the order dependent upon the learner. If you let the child have some say in what the group will “think” about, often times it increases the likelihood of participation.
I have also used two thinking bubbles in some recent sessions with an older girl… One for me and one for the kiddo. I have to tell you, that when I pointed out to her that my thinking bubble did not match hers, and that I was not thinking about angry birds, she looked amazed. It was an “ah-hah” moment. It never occurred to her that I would not be thinking about angry birds. I knew I had a teaching moment right there. I had her describe what was in her bubble and then I told her what was in mine. I wrote them down. We talked about her thought bubble. Then, we talked about what was expected. ( i.e., Listening to the teacher.) I also drew a line from the bubble to a person’s mouth and explained that all thoughts were not spoken. This was another revelation… That not everything we think needs to be shared. (Raise your hand if this reverberates with you!) With her newfound knowledge we were able to further address social situations, including greetings; how our behavior makes others feel; and unexpected vs. expected behaviors using thinking bubbles. Visuals work with many of our kids. Use them.
I am going to imagine that many of you reading this have a similar experience to share or have other ideas about how thinking bubbles have been successful for you. I would love to hear how you are using thought bubbles at home or in your practice! Feel free to comment on this post! Next week we will delve more into the use of visual strategies! If you decide to sign up for my weekly posts, be sure to look for the email from WordPress. You will need to confirm your email to complete the process.