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Tell all about it - visual references to promote sharing instead of silence

von Sandy Klindworth MS, CCC-SLP Juli 17, 2018

tell all about it

If asked how I spent the weekend, I might reach for my phone to share a picture of the dog park or the concert. Even those of us with mature language skills find it easier to recall and tell about something when we have a visual referent. For children with emerging communication skills, that tangible representation may be the difference between silence and sharing.    

The importance of visual references 

An emerging communicator talks about the now, whether a thing: Dog! Or an event: Bye Bye! As language develops, teaching the communicator to recall and share their experiences is facilitated by providing a tangible representation of those events, with symbols, photos, or objects.   

  • Picture Communication Symbols have long been used to prompt and support receptive and expressive language in children with developmental delays, and their use has become best practice.    
  • Typically developing children have been found to have richer interactions with parents after daycare or school when provided with meaningful, child-centered materials to take home and share.   
  • Multiple studies have found efficacy in using remnant and picture books in supporting communication in adults with acquired communication deficits.    

Shared pictures, symbols, or remnants establish a shared topicand the communication partner, whether parent, peer, or professional, can provide support and scaffolding to facilitate a conversation about that topic.    

Ideas & resources 

  1. Remnant Books (or boxes or bags!): A collection of remnants (pictures, objects, partial objects, or picture symbols) to represent events and activities in a visual and tactile way.   
  • Get started here with a great resource from The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  
  1. Note Home/Note to School: Symbol-supported, often template or form-style notes designed to share information about what happened.  
  • Find dozens of examples of these for free on the web and in the Boardmaker Online Community, like this one here.  
  • Use Boardmaker templates to create your own, personalized, check-list style notes. Get a free trial of Boardmaker Online here 
  • Bonus idea: Take photos when the child is engaged in activities and upload those photos right into the note in Boardmaker. 
  1. Journaling: Use the representational items and any necessary supports to create journals that include symbols, pictures, remnants, and writing!  
  • Find dozens of examples of supported writing activities to print or use interactively on the Boardmaker Community here.  You can edit them to suit! 
  • Create your own journal with a writing template in Boardmaker! 

Make it Work! Plan for the time and create routines for collecting/creating the representational materials and for sharing about them. Put it on the schedule!

Sandy Klindworth MS, CCC-SLP
Sandy Klindworth MS, CCC-SLP



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