Anne Carpenter’s June Book Review

TITLE: Visual Strategies for Improving Communication: Practical Supports for Autism Spectrum Disorders-Updated and Revised Edition (Kindle Edition)

AUTHOR: Hodgdon, Linda, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

SUBJECT AREA: Autism-Communication Strategies

PUBLISHER: Quirk Roberts Publishing


NUMBER OF PAGES: 383 (for Print Edition)

Years ago, I was lucky enough to review Linda Hodgdon’s book Visual Strategies for Improving Communication and was wowed by all of her brilliant ideas and techniques for presenting concepts in a visual fashion to help students learn better. Now, this new and revised edition goes one better by expanding on her original ideas.

Part I is an introduction to using visual means to mediate communication and the author segues on to the real nitty gritty, that of using visuals for teaching and for helping students learn. Starting with Part II, she covers samples of tools for visual communication including schedules, mini-schedules, good old calendars, menus and choice boards and ways to communicate “NO”, transition and travel helpers and people locators.

Part III covers aids to give directions including classroom management tools, cookbooks and task organizers. As the book progresses, there are chapters covering the use of visual tools for various environments which include the classroom, at home and in the community so that students and adults with ASD can navigate successfully in the workplace, at restaurants, in the library, or when traveling and when they are at home.

Each chapter has a ton of examples of the tools that the author is describing, and the reader can even pinch to magnify that tool for a closer look!  Then, one can just click on the big X in the upper right-hand corner to get back to the page, how cool is that? The ideas that Hodgdon presented just blew me away and I was particularly fascinated because of my extensive calendar use because of all the appointments I have had to go to in the last two months. Just looking at all the examples makes the concepts easier to follow and understand, a real boon to busy teachers and parents and the author finds every way she can to make the process of making the tools as easy and as inexpensive as possible. In addition, she gives very clear directions on how to present the visual materials to the students and to teach them to use the tools so that they are as effective as they can be. She points out mistakes that are often made when using visual supports and stresses the need to continue using the supports even when the student appears to be functioning on his own. Though this a meaty tome, the chapter headings are in blue so that reader can click on to them to see the Table of Contents and can go back to that chapter for future reference.

This new edition is brilliantly conceived in every way possible and is even better than the first edition.  Linda also gushes over the wonders of newer technology such as smartphones and tablets that can also be fantastic visual tools. Linda Hodgdon rides again!!


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