Chapters 173 and 179

This chapter begins with Christopher hiding behind the shed in his backyard. He has just found out that his mother is still alive. He is looking up at the stars and explaining how the constellations (like Orion) are silly because they are just stars and you could join up the dots in any way you wanted. I really agree with Christopher on this. I can never find constellations when I look up to the sky. Christopher loves looking up at the sky and the stars. They make him feel small and his problems feel “negligible” in the grand scheme of things. I can imagine looking up at the stars helped him cope with finding out about his mother.

After hiding all night, Christopher’s father comes outside to look for him. Christopher covers himself and toby’s cage with a fertilizer bag and gets out his Swiss army knife. Christopher’s father does not find him and drives away. Christopher has decided that he can’t live with his father anymore because he is dangerous. He decides he is going to go live with Ms. Shears because she is not a stranger and she will understand. He goes to Ms. Shears’s house, but she is not home. Christopher decides against living with Siobhan, Uncle Terry, and Mrs. Alexander. Christopher makes a diagram in his head to help with his decision. He ultimately decides that he has to go to London to live with his mother. All of the stress and fear is upsetting to Christopher. He is afraid to go far from home by himself. This makes Christopher realize that he can never be an astronaut because he will be thousands and thousands of miles away from home. This realization makes his whole body hurt.

Christopher formulates a plan. Christopher tries to leave Toby with Mrs., Alexander, but she wants to call his father. Christopher runs home, breaks a window, backs a bag, and takes his father’s bank card. Christopher walks to school, but he sees his father’s van outside the school. This makes him get sick again. Christopher asks a woman with a baby for help finding the train station. He holds his Swiss army knife ready in his pocket for protection (which is very scary). Christopher finally finds the train station by moving in a spiral and making a map in his head.

In reflection on this chapter, I am very worried about Christopher. His whole world his falling apart. He does not even trust his father anymore because he lied and is afraid he will kill him like he killed Wellington. Christopher’s literal thinking and difficulty understating what is going on his making him act rashly and his fear is making him physically ill.

-Allison Wahl


Chapters 163 and 167 (spoiled alert!)

Chapter 163

Immediately after finding out that his mother is not dead, getting sick and being discovered by his father; Christopher digresses into a lengthy explanation of the brain. He gives an explanation of theory of mind and how the human brain is like a computer. He does not mention the current state of events in this chapter at all. This could be a defense mechanism as he objectively tries to process what has happened. At the end of the chapter, he even tries to explain how “feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head.”

Chapter 167 (Spoiler Alert!)

After being given a bath, time and offers of food, Christopher’s father attempts to engage him in conversation. His father admits to lying and says that he will be honest with him from now on. The truth is… Christopher’s father killed the dog!! After a fight with Mrs. Shears, he killed the dog in anger. Christopher does not speak. His father eventually leaves the room. Christopher is frightened and thinks that if his father can murder a dog that he could murder him as well. Christopher decides to leave the house after his father is asleep. He takes Toby (his pet rat), his food box and warm clothing outside. He squeezes between the shed and the fence to sit, eat and contemplate what to do next. Wow! I’m still reeling from the admission of guilt from his father. For all the patience and understanding that his father typically shows, his moments of loss of control now make more sense because they were all about the dog/book/investigation. I couldn’t stop reading after this chapter out of concern for Christopher’s welfare. How will his father react to him being “gone”? What will happen during the night? Will he go to school the next day and how will school staff respond?

–Kristin Kelly

Visual Strategies for Improving Communication

By:  Linda A. Hodgdon

“I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember.  I do and I understand.”


A recurring theme throughout this book is that visual strategies are not just important for non-verbal students or students with a speech-language impairment.  Visual strategies are good tools to utilize to increase comprehension across topics.


Visual supports include:

  • Body language
  • Natural environmental cues
  • Traditional tools for organization and giving information
  • Specially designed tools to meet specific needs


“How would you educate someone who was 90% visual and 10% auditory?”

  1. Teach skills
  2. Teach compensatory strategies
  3. Modify environments for maximum learning


Presenting information in visual form:

  • Helps establish and maintain attention
  • Gives information in a form that the student can quickly and easily interpret
  • Clarifies verbal information
  • Provides concrete way to teach concepts
  • Gives the structure to understand and accept change
  • Supports transitions between activities and locations


Types of visual supports:

  1. Visual Schedules:  help clarify information between staff and students.
    1. What is happening today (regular activities)
    2. What is happening today (something new, different, unusual)
    3. What is not happening today
    4. What is the sequence of events
    5. What is changing that i normally expect
    6. When is it time to stop one activity and move on to another one
  2. Mini-schedules:  provide structure to increase independent work habits.
    1. Do not have to replicate the form and format of the daily schedule
    2. Geared more towards individuals while classroom schedules are geared more for the larger group
    3. The format of mini-schedules can be designed to target more specific individual learning goals
  3. Calendars:  organize lives, understand sequence and time concepts, and give other valuable information
    1. Which days are school days/are not school days
    2. When special events/activities will occur
    3. Field trips/training trips
    4. When someone is coming/going
    5. How long someone will be here/gone
    6. Appointments
    7. Who will be home after school
    8. When a babysitter will be coming
    9. Which days a student will be leaving school early or coming in late
    10. The lunch menu/when to bring or buy
    11. When to bring things to school or take them home
    12. When to bring money/how much to bring

-The point of the calendar is to give students information in a form that they understand, be a tool to transmit information, answer student questions, teach strategies to become more independent, give students organizational strategies to manage themselves, teach students sequence (before/after), reduce behavior problems for students that resist change.


  1.  Choice boards and menus:  provides immediate reinforcement and effective way of teaching pointing and requesting.  Could be used when choosing –
  1. Leisure activities
  2. Who to work or play with
  3. Which store to go to
  4. Which job you want to do
  5. Which song to sing
  6. Which game or activity to do
  7. Who gets a turn
  8. Which work area to go to
  9. Places to visit
  10. What to eat for snack or meal
  11. To participate or not participate in an activity


  1.  Prepare students for transition:
  1. Show it on the schedule
  2. Refer to a clock or watch to indicate
  3. Set a timer to signal how long a student has
  4. Put a card on the student’s desk that tells he/she needs to stop in 5 minutes
  5. Create a natural ending by establishing a certain quantity


  1.   Structure the environment with labeling:  adding labels and markers to a student’s environment provides an opportunity for more independence.
  1. Teach the student to recognize labels that are already there
  2. Label the student’s personal space and belongings
  3. Label where things belong
  4. Label the environment


Critical Elements for Success:

  1. Place the educational focus on communication development FIRST.
  2. Design the level of communication in the classroom to match the student’s functioning level.
  3. Allow time for communication.
  4. Capture the moment.
  5. Teach communication skills in natural settings.
  6. Integrate communication training into the context of ongoing activities.
  7. Develop visual tools as a rich part of the environment to support communication.
  8. View behavior challenges in the context of communication.
  9. Specifically teach pragmatic skills.
  10. Include language activities that place a heavy emphasis on rhythm and rhyme.
  11. Ensure a strong relationship between the academic skills taught and the child’s experience.
  12. Make sure communication is integrated….not separate.

–Erin Williams