Figure 3: A comic strip conversation
Comic strip conversations are a technique developed by Carol Gray to help people with autism develop greater social understanding.
Comic strip conversations provide visual representations of the different levels of communication that take place in a conversation, using symbols, stick figure drawings and colour. By seeing the different elements of a conversation presented visually, some of the more abstract aspects of social communication (such as recognising the feelings and intentions of others) are made more 'concrete' and are therefore easier to understand.
Comic strip conversations can also offer an insight into how a person with autism perceives a situation.
What does a comic strip conversation look like?
Comic strip conversations use symbols to represent social interactions and abstract aspects of conversation, and colour to represent the emotional content of a statement or message (Gray, 1994).
Figure 3 (above) shows some symbols taken from Carol Gray's Comic strip conversations (1994). The symbols represent a range of concepts that may be involved in a conversation.
Figure 4 (below) shows some 'conversation colours' that could be used to represent a range of feelings and ideas.
Figure 4: Conversation colours
Who can benefit from comic strip conversations?
Comic strip conversations can be used to increase social understanding in young people and adults on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum.
What do I need to write a comic strip conversation?
The basic tools are paper and pencils, but you might also use crayons, coloured pencils and markers.
Try asking the person with autism to select the materials that they would like to use for their comic strip conversations. This can help them to get more involved in the process.
Some people may like to have their comic strip conversations in a notebook so that they can refer to them as needed, and easily recall key concepts.
For more information about visual supports, such as picture symbols, see Visual supports.