4 Super Reasons to Use Comics in Speech-Language Therapy

4 Super Reasons for SLPs to Use Comics- Looks-Like-Language
Have you ever used comic strips in your speech/language therapy sessions? You should!  Yes, you really should, and here are 4 super reasons why!

1. It is so much fun!
Face it, we all have our own styles and it is easy to get stuck in a rut based on what is comfortable for us. Maybe you are naturally funny and won’t need this particular reason. (But keep reading- one of the other reasons will work!) I am not naturally funny if you are over the age of 5, so I need some extra help sometimes. Comics can be a change of pace that lighten the mood.

2. The language of humor is complex!
Often humor is based upon plays on words, changed stress patterns, and nonliteral meanings versus the literal picture. Some of our students, especially ones with learning disabilities or on the autism spectrum, need some extra help to understand humor.

3. You can work on so many goals!
Let’s see….
Articulation students can write and then read the text or explain the joke using their target sounds, or carryover the use of their speech sound in conversation during the activity.
Phonological awareness is addressed as so many comic strips are funny because of changes in sound, spelling and stress that lead to ambiguity. Check out the comic below from one of my favorites- The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn.
For language, you can work on following directions to use the site, sequencing, narrative structures, sentence formation, answering questions, making inferences, understanding figurative language, comprehending multiple meanings and non-literal language, problem solving a social scenario, facial expression, and showing different points of view in the characters’ statements, to name a few.
4. I’m giving you links to sites which will make it easy!
This is my favorite site for finding comics to print and use in therapy. Of course, you could keep a list of links to pull up on your computer and go the paperless route, too!

If your students are into superheroes, this may be the site you want!

My favorite site for making comics in therapy! It is free, easy to use, lets you save and print, and is adding additional choices all the time.

This may be my new fave, as I was looking for activities to supplement work on facial expressions, body language and character traits. This site can do regular cartoons, but check out the option called TraitR, too! You do need to sign up, but there’s a free option.

The free version of this site has more sophisticated characters and themes, letting you make more choices in the graphics being used.

This comic creator is more basic and in black and white, but it can be a great place to start for younger kids, or if your school won’t let you access the other sites.

So, have I convinced you that it is worth giving comics a try? If my 4 super reasons didn’t do the trick, here is a link to a more scholarly argument: 

Like the idea but need some more in-depth help? Take a look at Cartoon Cut-Ups: Teaching Figurative Language and Humor by Jean HamerskyAlso try Cecile Cyrul Spector’s books: Sounds Like Fun: Activities for Developing Phonological Awareness and As Far as Words Go: Activities for Understanding Ambiguous Language and Humor.

I hope you have some fun with comics this year!

10 Great Free Informative Websites for SLPs

10 Great Free Informative Websites for SLPs from Looks-Like-Language
If you need some information to be sure you are on the right path with your therapy, this post is for you!  My students have covered the range of ages and communication difficulties over the years. I suppose the biggest common denominator has been that the majority of my students have been functioning way below the 16%ile. I even considered naming my blog ‘Life Below the 16%ile’, but went with Looks Like Language instead.

For me, this has meant two things to strongly consider:
1- Since my students are going to need much support and much practice to be able to learn, maintain and functionally use the skills I am teaching, I want to think ahead and make sure that I am working toward practical life skills that will be helpful and worth all the effort of learning.
2- If someone has also thought about this, and possibly figured out a best practice for the skill, it is worth the time to educate myself first!
So, with that in mind, here are some of the sites that I feel are definitely worth visiting.

This free information site currently has 45 different modules to help people working in the area of autism.

This link is to a preview of the program at Autism Navigator. The Autism in Toddlers video, showing clips to help with earlier detection, is free when you enroll.

Learning Disabilities
This informative site has information on so many topics related to learning disabilities!

There are links to informational resources and more at this site.

This is the link to all of the interactive resources at Read-Write-Think, which can be adapted to reach our speech/language goals based on our interactions with the students.

This is the link to the interactive activities at Scholastic. Find an activity to match your students goals and interests or curriculum.

This website has practical ideas, information, videos and supports.

These sister sites offer lots of information and tips.

Informative guidelines for SLPs and some free downloads.

It is always a good idea to check on best practices here!

Internet Technology
Need some help getting started with computer technology? These are generally useful sites!

What website do you go to for help?  

My 3 Favorite, Fantastic Books For Emotions and Perspective Taking

Need some help working on emotions and social skills with your students? My last posts shared some tips and some amazing links for free information to use with a slant toward older or more skilled students. For me, that happened to be my emotionally disturbed students, who lack the emotion vocabulary needed for interactions with their peers, especially in terms of conflicts and problem solving.

This week is for sharing some of my favorite books and resources for younger or more limited students. In my case, this is my students who are on the autism spectrum. Unlike the students from last week, who initiate interactions with their peers, but then misinterpret social cues and get into conflicts, this week’s post is geared more towards students who have limited interactions with their peers or who interact without ever realizing that everyone else does not have the same interests that they do.

Vocabulary- The Basics
Still start with emotion vocabulary. See the last post here if you’d like some great links for the vocabulary resources. Choose your vocabulary targets to expand their language ability for thinking about and expressing their feelings, with activities based on the students’ ages and cognitive skills, and keeping in mind what problems they are showing in their school interactions.  Make sure they can use more than the 4 basic emotions and that they express degrees of emotion!

3 fantastic Go-To books for students with autism!
Literacy- Apply the Vocabulary with Skill Practice

After students can use the new words expressively and identify the basic emotion group, try using stories! Using literacy activities is good practice, especially for a caseload of limited readers, and good stories provide a context for understanding emotions and situations in a way that vocabulary drills won't. 

Perhaps most important of all, applying the new vocabulary in discussion of story plots helps students to understand that people have different perspectives. What made the story character feel angry may make your student feel sad.

No, David, NO! by David Shannon is an all time favorite for young children. David's antics are always getting him into trouble while he is just trying to have fun.

The simple plot and pictures are great for eliciting sentences in a story retell while the situations lend themselves to discussing cause-effect and why mom does not see things the way that David does.

A Bad Case of Stripes, also by David Shannon, is another one of my go - to books.  On the surface, the plot is seemingly a straight forward story abut a girl who has back to school nerves. The pictures in the books can engender a lot of discussion about facial expressions as Camilla develops a bad case of stripes after deciding to avoid her favorite food, lima beans. The underlying perspectives behind the plot about what motivated Camilla in her decision making were difficult for my upper elementary and lower middle school students to understand.

Dear Mrs. LaRue, by Mark Teague, is another elementary level paperback that worked well for these grades. I have to admit that the first time I read it, I wasn't sure that a letter style book could keep my students interested, but I was proven wrong! The illustrations in black and white versus color were of great interest, helping my students to compare the perspectives of Ike the dog to his owner, Mrs. LaRue. The vocabulary used and length of the letters were great for expanding the language and listening skills for the students in the group without social goals. Even better, there are so many free activities to be found online!

More Books for Teaching Emotion Vocabulary
You can get more ideas for books to use at these links:

The website has both a book list and teaching resource guides!

This link has the names of books sorted by the emotion it teaches, especially useful for targeting specific vocabulary.

This PDF gives ideas for how to use books to teach about emotions.

One of my favorite purchased resources for stories that directly teach emotion vocabulary is Focus on Feelings from Attainment Company. The stories feature older people, focus on specific vocabulary targets and review them in later stories, use real photos and are short enough to maintain my students attention!  

Do you have a favorite that I missed?

Free Themed Token Boards for Autism- Cars

I certainly feel like this summer is racing away! I wish I could do something to help that, but it did get me making a car themed token board. 

Get this free autism resource from Looks Like Language!
TIP: Have you ever used token boards on a time basis? If you have students who can do short amounts of work, but then stop attending, you can set a timer for when they receive a token. Say, for example, they can attend for about a minute. Set the timer for irregular amounts of time, from a little below one minute to your goal of 2 minutes. If the student is attending and working when the timer goes off, they get a token. Make sure they can’t see the timer!

Students with more language skills can be told their goal of how long you want them to work consistently and only be given a token if they have worked steadily during the time period. Using irregular amounts of time is still probably the best, though.

Working orally? Get a count of how many response they can usually give before their attention starts to wander. Give tokens at irregular numbers of responses between the number where they are and the number you are aiming for. 

Get free autism resources in one easy download from Looks Like Language!

My fourth token board freebie has a car theme!  You can get it, along with my other thematic token boards, plus a surprise freebie, in my guide. Don't miss this helpful resource!

Get Started with Autism! Free guide at Looks Like Language

I have organized all of my useful FREE resources for autism into one easy download. This helpful guide includes all of the token boards, tips for using them, and other helpful visuals to get you started!

You can find the Getting Started with Autism Guide here!

I hope you love it! Enjoy!

How to Apply Emotion Vocabulary to Problem Solving!

Vocabulary for emotions is an important life skill to teach all children! It helps them to be able to think about and deal with the emotions they are feeling, as well as talk about it. The last post shares tips and resources for teaching emotions vocabulary and extending it to solving problems. To really be able to solve social problems, though, students need to be able to see another person's point of view.


Free links for emotions and problem solving from Looks Like Language!
Use problem scenarios to apply the vocabulary your students just learned. Let them identify feelings and take the perspectives of other people in varied situations, explaining the points of view on what events in the situation cause them to feel that way. 

This type of activity is great for groups, as students may have different takes or opinions on how the characters in the scenario might feel, and often want to convince their friends of their own perspective. Coming up with alternative ways to solve the problem situation and practicing what to say (and how to say it!) are important skills, too.

Perspective Taking Worksheets and Activity Ideas:

If you haven’t seen Jill Kuzma’s website yet, you should definitely go there first! It is one of the best resources I have found!


This site includes free downloads of pictures and activities that can be used in a classroom or adapted for therapy use.

This free download gives teaching hints for using interpreting faces in photos to figure out the person’s perspective. It includes actual photos to use, also!

Once my students can discuss these situations, it is time to get them using them in a more realistic time frame. Real life doesn't let us stop, think, discuss it with an adult and then respond!

Bubble Talk is one of my favorite games! The pictures are hilarious and students need to interpret facial expressions and nonverbal cues to figure out what the people could be saying.

Other games and ideas can be found at:

This free download gives lots of ideas for group games to play.

This free download has activities for teens.

Role playing links include:

This free download has good suggestions for how to set up and use role plays as a teaching strategy, as well as some scenarios to role play.

Scholastic provides a lesson plan, 10 role play scenarios to download and a poster.

You have to sign up for a free account here, but new materials are uploaded weekly by ESL teachers.

Just in case you are looking for additional help, these links are worth checking out, too!

Normative information

Research on adolescents  and social skills

Great resource for varied topics related to learning disabilities:

Teaching emotion vocabulary and perspectives made easy for mixed level groups!
If you are looking for engaging activities, printable games and homework worksheets. try this clinician tested packet that works for mixed level groups!

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