Visual Strategies For Improving Communication by Linda A. Hodgdon, M.ED., CCC-SLP

When I read the title “Visual Strategies For Improving Communication” written by Linda A. Hodgdon, M.ED., CCC-SLP I assumed the information provided was about how Speech Language Pathologists can help students communicate using pictures visually, but it was so much more. This book can benefit teachers, educators, ECE teachers, parents and caregivers,   or anyone else who could  be considered a communication partner. You maybe asking, “What are visual supports?”  “Visual supports are things we SEE that enhance the communication process.”   Using visual strategies on a daily basis to enhance what the teacher for example is expressing such as giving directions, asking questions can give  students  the ability to better UNDERSTAND and organize their thinking.

Another misconception I had was that I can only use Visual Communication Tools with students who have Autism/Aspergers. Students from Preschool through High School all the way to Adult who may have a diagnosis of Behavior Disorders, Learning Disability, Language Disorder…. would benefit from visuals whether they are verbal or non-verbal. “Do not assume a student understands just because he talks.” “The majority of these students are VISUAL LEARNERS”.

There are many examples and good illustrations on how to make and use communication tools such as schedules, mini schedules, calendars, choice boards… She discusses aids on how to give effective directions, visual strategies to organize the environment, and communicating in a variety of environments.  Also,  there are numerous case studies in which the reader is provided with a problem and also a solution. Of course, Hodgon’s book has the theory and research to “back up” her information, but most importantly her book actually is a reference that you will refer back to again and again.

I would highly recommend this book as a great reference to have on your bookshelf. You can order online at www.  The price is $39.95 or you can check it out for FREE from Melissa.

Leslie Brown

Chapters 7-11

In Chapter’s 7-11 Christopher explains his reasoning for writing about the “murder” of the dog.   He talked about how he preferred dogs to people in many circumstances.  His “voice” and “character” throughout  the throughout the book thus far could  be characteristic to someone on the spectrum. For example in Chapter 11 he begins to describe the police officers. He talks about a hole in the female police officer’s tights, and a leaf stuck to the bottom the other officer’s shoe.  In Chapter 11, the police officer begins to question Christopher, which causes him to become upset and he hits the police officer.  The conversation between Christopher and the officer could have definitely gone differently had the officer slowed down his questioning or used a different tone with Christopher.

–Dana Shanton

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime–Book study; chapters 2, 3, and 5

Dear receiving SLP,

Hope you had a great summer.

I am writing to give you a heads up on a new student heading your way. His name is Christopher John Francis Boone (I could not find him in Infinite Campus yet… I think it is because he has two middle names and it may be reading it as a hyphenated last name?). He has been referred for behavior issues…something about possibly murdering his neighbor’s dog with a pitchfork…Since this is a “hot case” they are trying to meet quickly so you may have to squeeze this one in. There is no screening on file but the student may have previously worked with another therapist (Siobhan?) There is no report but I will tell you what I have heard so far; Student’s strengths include geography (identifying countries of the world and capital cities), math skills (knowledge of prime numbers) and retelling details from an event. Student can identify emotions pictures with 33% accuracy but cannot generalize these to actual classroom and community activities. Student has an aversion to loud noises (screaming) and does not like physical contact, he may exhibit some self-stim. (rolling into a ball).

Sorry for the short notice on this one but let me know what you think. What goals are you going to write to take into the meeting? Do you think he will be a speech language impaired student or possibly related service? Will you be providing services for this student? If so, where and how much? What will your sessions look like?

I know this will screw up your schedule but thanks for looking into this so quickly!


Tech Tuesday

Melanie Gillenwater shares:

I discovered Toya Tap Match and Learn APP on the IPAD and my students have enjoyed using it throughout sessions. There are five free games within the APP and an additional 7 games that can be purchased for an additional fee. Noted below you will see the different categories included within the APP and they are sorted by FREE and ADDITIONAL FEE:

  1. Free
    1. Colors
    2. Shapes
    3. Animal Characteristics
    4. Family Resemblance
    5. Geometric Shape
  2. Additional Fee
    1. Color combinations
    2. Vehicle Types
    3. Shapes and Colors
    4. Silhouettes
    5. Categorical Matching
    6. Silhouette and Color
    7. Form Perception

I have used the game “Animal Characteristics” with students of varying levels of language ability and a few students working on elimination of final consonant deletion.

The main objective is to figure out which animal is hidden behind soap bubbles with the outline of the face, ears, and feet and/or arms shown. There are eight total animal pictures to choose from. They are cartoon representations of each animal with four pictures on the left side of the screen and four pictures on the right side of the screen.

The student uses the seen characteristics to determine which animal is hidden (inferencing). The student then finds the animal picture along one of the sides of the screen and then pulls the picture to the center of the screen. It then unveils the animal as well as verbally says the name of the animal.

The eight animals are as follow: cat, horse, duck, sheep, pig, cow, rooster, dog.

Extensions to this activity can be:

  1. Asking how did you know it was a pig (for example)?
  2. Asking the student to provide more attributes of the unveiled animal
  3. Categorizing farm animals versus house pets
  4. Naming additional animals you may see on a farm and additional animals that would be good house pets
  5. Asking what sound each animal makes
  6. Comparing/contrasting animals
  7. Creating sentences using the name of the animal
  8. Asking what do supplies do you need for a bath?
  9. How do you think the bubbles got there?


  1. Producing final consonant sounds of each animal
  2. Stating each individual phoneme of each animal as it is uncovered

As can be noted above, you can use this APP for an entire session as it has many extension activities. The students loving making the animal noises and asking each other which type of pets they have at their own homes.

A review of Suburban Gangs- The Affluent Rebels by Dan Korem



Suburban Gangs- The Affluent Rebels is written by Dan Korem.  He is a journalist who has researched suburban gangs and will often aid communities and law enforcement in helping to decrease gang activity, but more importantly prevent it.  The book presents actual cases of individuals who live in suburban, upper class communities and their narratives into how they became involved in suburban gangs.  The book is divided into 4 sections: “The Reports” (statistics and backgrounds of gangs), “The Scope of the Problem” (what children who join gangs have in common), “Gang Types and Their Activities” (types of gangs and what behaviors they engage in), and “Gang Intervention and Prevention” (programs that work and their characteristics).


In the first section, Mr. Korem shares his experiences with his own encounters with gangs in his home in suburban Dallas. His research also concludes that children join gangs and participate in very similar activities in theses gangs for the same outcomes regardless of what country you are in.  He also states that while inner city gangs are similar, there are some key differences when talking about affluent gangs. Affluent gangs do not concern themselves with territories.  Inner city gangs are usually trafficking drugs, which is their purpose. Affluent gangs are looking more for an identity or ideology.


“The Scope of the Problem” highlights how affluent gangs target potential gang members.  It gives background into the motivation behind children joining gangs.  Mr. Korem’s research shows that children who come from homes with loving parents, open communication, and are nurtured do not join gangs.  Children who join gangs often come from divorced homes, homes where they are being abused or have a severely dysfunctional parent. What he finds is the most influential factor is what he terms “The Missing Protector Factor”.  This condition is when a child feels that they do not have a person to turn to when they have a crisis.  They join gangs in search of this type of protection.


The third section of this book discusses three types of gangs: Delinquent, Ideological, and Occultic. In the Delinquent Gang, the motivation is usually a desire for some type of profit.  Children join this gang to get a thrill.  These gangs are known for trying to gain financial profit by means of assault or thuggery.  While these gangs are seen in the suburbs, they are the most common in the inner city gangs. Ideological Gangs follows the belief in a specific ideology. It might be racial, political, etc..  These gangs are seeking to have knowledge that those outside the gang do not.  Examples of this type of gang include the Black Panthers and Skinheads. The last type of gang is the Occultic Gangs.  These members commit to some type of occultic entity such as Satan.  They are hoping that their devotion will give them some sort of power.


In the final section, “Gang Intervention and Prevention”, Mr. Korem discusses strategies that communities have tried to decrease gang initiation and activity.  It talks about identifying youth that may be at risk of joining a gang. It is easier to stop a child from being initiated into a gang then to get them out once they have joined.  Explaining to these children what gangs are looking for and how they will fit the profile often deters them.  Helping them to find a person that can fit the “Missing Protector Factor” in their lives helps them to feel protected. It also encourages use of other children and families in the community to reach out to children who may be at risk.




I was surprised at the connections I could make from this book even though I serve preschool age students. I see every day my own students who come from homes where they have a very dysfunctional parent or have a history of abuse and how this affects their ability to function in the school environment.  I find their behavior is often unpredictable.  A meltdown or tantrum often seems unprovoked.  Even though many of the children I see come from poverty and/or have some type of disability, I often observed that the children with the most challenging behaviors or difficulties learning seem to be more closely related to a history of abuse or do not seem to have at least one nurturing parent in their lives.  Educational level of a parent or financial status are not important for a preschooler’s development.  Having a nurturing home that provides love and the feeling of safety is much more important and will have a greater effect on both short term and long-term success in education and overall quality of life.  As an SLP in the schools, I think it is important to look at children who seem to be at risk for the previously mentioned factors and see what school supports and possible outside resources may be available for the student.


Darcy Lanham

Tech Tuesday

Britney Dueppen Shares:

Approximately half of my caseload is comprised of Pre-K students. I have utilized some applications that have targeted increasing the students’ language skills. One application that has been especially fun and beneficial is called, “Show me the picture.” It targets identifying actions when given a verbal prompt and choice of four pictures. For example, it might say, “show where the boy is jumping” or “show where the baby is bathing.” Once the student taps the correct picture, the application repeats the sentence (i.e. “correct, the boy jumping”). This allows the students to identify the present progressive form and hopefully be able to use the sentence in their own speech at a later time.

Speech Safari

As I was catching up on reading my ASHA leader, I noticed a short entry about using a safari theme that includes crafting binoculars. This seemed like a great place to start a theme. The SLP suggests that kiddos can use their binoculars to practice a variety of skills including searching for specific target sounds or action cards that are being described orally. (For the original article, you can refer to page 6 of the July ASHA Leader.)

I thought this was such a great idea, I wanted to build on it. So, I created searched “safari” on TPT. There are lots of fun, free materials related to the Safari theme on TPT. Some of the things that I found that I thought may be particularly useful include a countdown timer (for those kiddos who have trouble transitioning), a cause and effect lesson, and a whole host of different sets of classroom décor, behavior charts, clip art, and themed paper.

Some books that could be used to supplement this theme include:
Safari, So Good!: All About African Wildlife (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)

National Geographic Readers: Safari     

Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #6: The African Safari Discovery

Have you used a safari theme in your speech room? What activities do you love?