See – Visual Tools Work Where They are Seen in the Environment Where They are Used

Put it where it can be seen.

One of the most important elements for me to work daily in my environment which serves both as my home and workspace, is to put tools where I can see them. Specifically, I mean adaptive living tools which I use every day to help me remember and do things. For a long time, this meant putting a child’s toy of two eggs sunny side up on the counter by the kitchen where I would see them and remember to eat. Along with that, when I was first living independently with my disabilities and even while living with others who were regular people not having my disabilities and couldn’t be trusted to help remember to me when to eat – I had cats. Cats always know when they want to eat, need to eat, haven’t eaten in a while and should be fed. They would definitely tell me when they wanted to eat and then I simply ate at the same time. That and having the little toy eggs sitting somewhere that I would see it, sufficed to remind me about eating and when to do it and to look around for what was available to eat in the fridge.

There are a lot of tools that can be used visually for people with disabilities like head injury, stroke, autism and mental disabilities. None of these tools will help if they can’t be seen. It never ceases to surprise me how many families, caregivers and even mental health professionals still believe a home must look like a picture book or magazine rather than being modified appropriately to the person who must live there and function well daily. To find the placement of things like adaptive living tools around the physical environment where a person works or lives, it takes a couple things for certain to accomplish it logistically, but more practically – if none of those tools can be in the visible environment because they don’t “look right” then it is all for nothing.

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Put it where you can see it – dry erase markers allow me to put the days of the week on the bathtub tile where I notice it. It can be changed easily as each day changes to the next.

On this exploration of using adaptive living tools and compensating strategy tools in the home and work environment, one thing is absolutely necessary and that is the freedom to do it. That includes a kind of freedom to consider anything as available whether it is “suitable” or not – such as toys, color notes, color tacks, dog toys, cat toys, glow in the dark stars and shapes, paper clips with colorful coatings, glittery stickers, kids window decals, dry erase markers, baskets and bins in colors or specific textures, etc. These might not look like a magazine picture’s version of home decor in a fancy magazine when placed appropriately in the environment where the person uses them to remember, to know, to consider, to ask, to go, to do, to remind, to find, to check, or whatever else they are used to do. That has to be okay.

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Use Anything That Works Regardless of Its Original Purpose – These tell me visually to work out what works and make sure it works – like the three set positioning of shopping list card, receipts pile and business note on post it on kitchen counter corner next to my usual drink coaster. The glow in the dark star on the corner reminds me where the corner of the counter actually exists in real space as I map my way through the room daily despite other things changing in the environment.

When finding placement spots for each of these tools, there is only one real consideration and that is, what works. And, the first times around placing things, I rarely found that but you might. For me, it took checking where I naturally or automatically looked in a room on the way through and then too, during certain activities such as cooking or taking a bath or getting ready for bed and then after placing them where I usually looked anyway, if it didn’t work there – I moved them until I found what did work. That is the usual process that people have taken when I’ve helped others put these tools into their places too – both caregivers, other family members, roommates, visitors – AND – helpful know betters, have to understand not to move the damn things too. And, that will never happen that way either, so it is good to know that ahead of time. They will always move them at least once – somebody will. So it is good to find places they are less likely to want to move them or need to move them as permanent spots for the tools to be used everyday. The center of the kitchen counter is typically “not” a good spot because it is used for many other activities and commonly used, cleaned, moved around, needed, etc. – even if a person is living by themselves.

The other part is that – certain behavior habits can be made as compensating strategies and tools such as turning on the light over the stove EVERY TIME something is being cooked where it can be known that cooking has been happening there and creating a double check for stove being left on and things like that. The fact is, everyone needs to know of that habit strategy and use it, know what it means and be part of double checking whether things have been turned off or left cooking too long if no one is standing there cooking with it – AND before leaving the apt., office, studio, store or house. The light is turned off once it is checked before leaving only after ascertaining that all appliances – coffee maker, stove, oven, toaster oven, microwave and anything else that has been in use have been checked and turned off. Even with roommates this is important and in offices where there is a community kitchen in use or break room. But, the compensating strategy of turning on the light over the stove when cooking is being done as a signal to everyone that it must be double checked and awareness of that fact – only works if everyone knows what it means – AND – if it is done “this time” and “every time”.

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Although Christmas is a few weeks away in yesterday somewhere recently, this stocking is now reminding me of something else by the front door which has more to do with creating art and products online that people will like for next Christmas. I love the artwork on this stocking – and it reminds me to be watching for design as I wander out to places, take photos of flowers and things to use in designs and watch for things on sale from Christmas that might be nice to have.

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Visual Identifiers that remind me of who I am and what I’m doing that are currently sitting in a drawer on top of a cabinet shelf where I can see them some of the time but notice them as I go by all of the time.

In my environment, color push tacks are used beside door frames to tell me where the doors are to move about my apt. and to tell me where the go out door is. If some one changes those, knocks them out of the wall or walks over to take one to use for putting up a poster or something else, then the tool doesn’t work because it is no longer there. That is to give an example of why it is important that others know why there is a tack next to the door – in an honest way – and that maybe a backup plan is needed on top of the visual identifier I’m using. Redundancy is a good thing in this process but if something works – use it, don’t try to re-work it once it is working – use it that way and go on to something else that isn’t working to do “fixing it.”

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This is on my kitchen wall – the sieve and flyer from recycling food for composting are together which tells me to divide it out and place in its special container. Tacks here are not for a door obviously and are set up differently to remind me of a sequence of activities which must occur when working in the kitchen and where to find things.

First – find where the person who will be using the visual identifiers and adaptive living tools actually looks when coming across a room or during certain activities. For me, that is easily found by asking my self what I just noticed in the room after I’ve walked through it. Now in all honesty, it is a fact that our subconscious minds – even those of people with head injury and other mental disabilities – do actually take in everything despite not noticing it. But for these tools to be effectively used, it is easiest to place them where they are obviously noticed rather than waiting for the subconscious to eventually be asked and answer as to what it means, where it was and why it was needed there at all. As much as I’ve tried photographs from newspapers and magazines of food on the refrigerator, on cabinets, on the kitchen mirror, in other places – and kids coloring book line drawings of hamburgers and magnets and kid’s toys of hamburgers – not one of them worked well for me. Not because I couldn’t identify the hamburger or associate it with eating but because I don’t usually have hamburger and I know it – so my mind would dismiss it. Also as it turns out, I rarely look in the bathroom mirror, even more rarely notice the front of the refrigerator in the room although I do see the protruding upper right corner usually and even more rarely look at my cabinet surfaces. On top of that, it turned out that by trying it – the cabinet surface features for me are part of the room’s walls and environment that I use to map my own way around the physical spaces and so pictures and color stickers and things on top of that surface made physically navigating the room harder. I only know this because of trying it and finding it out which is why that is first and knowing it will have to be done more than once to get what works is very important.

However, that said – if the first time something is placed in that spot which is already noticed in a room – actually works for the compensating strategy or adaptive living tools placement – then use that and don’t change it until it isn’t working and needs to be changed. Because that is the point – finding what works. Find what places are automatically or naturally noticed in the room spaces, place visual identifiers and adaptive living tools in those spaces specifically – if they work, use them there and if they don’t, then move them to somewhere else, modify them or put some other tools there that does work in that space for it. That is the process.

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You really can use anything to say things visually. Some things are said by juxtaposition of things with one another. These colorful skeletons work pretty good, but I haven’t had them for very long. Still working to get them right – they can be set all kinds of ways because they are jointed.

Second, visual identifiers can be anything that works – no matter what is the original intended use of the item. These are mnemonic tools in some respect and so they almost must be custom made by the person with the disabilities even if it is with the help of caregivers, family members, rehab problem solving programs or other helpers. Like I said about the hamburger, it turned out that for me, the two eggs sunny side up child’s play food toy worked better than the hamburger because usually there are eggs in the fridge and not hamburgers – but also because they were remarkably more visible in the environments where I live. The one caught my attention and the other did not. That is also, I suppose because of one day that took me three weeks to figure out how to open an egg which I’ll never forget – and it reminds me personally of that. And, no – they don’t have zippers, flaps, or instructions – and they do look solid if you don’t remember that they crack when hit on something. In this case, the play food toy of two eggs sunny side up reminded me to eat something, that there were probably eggs in the fridge and that once I had forgotten how to open them, so I could be conscious of my own limitations as I went to fix me something to eat and do it safely.

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I’m testing these kid’s magnets to see if they could be reminders to eat something, have some milk, have something I like to eat – hence the cookies, although it translates to be whatever I like at the moment on that very day – today that was raisins in the little bitty boxes that I like.

Third, after placing the visual identifiers, mnemonics, compensating strategy tools, and adaptive living tools – add to them, grow with them, alter them as needed, try new things to work for a greater array of abilities and capacities. For me, this meant having a greater range of exercises that enabled me to grow stronger and get better along with including daily activities that I wanted to remember to do in order to live successfully and independently despite my disabilities. It also meant incorporating visual communications into these tools along with their color coded meanings that helped me particularly tell me things that I needed to remember – whether it was shopping needed to be done on Tuesday or to water the plants on Wednesdays every week – or what to buy at the store – or whatever else. For remembering to get the mail, I literally had a forest green mailbox full-sized with the red flag made by Rubbermaid – on my kitchen counter or dining room table or shelf by the front hall near the bathroom where I would see it – otherwise I wouldn’t even know to go out and get the mail at all – and nothing said to me to do it. But, that simple mailbox did that – and it was big enough to see it – big enough to be obvious to everyone else who walked by it who would then ask me if I’d gotten the mail lately or why it was there which would remind me to check the mail too – and it was all of $3 to buy that mailbox at a thrift store to accomplish all those things.

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Tools / Visual Identifiers waiting to go into use sitting on a table near where I can easily see them and find them when they are needed.


If I could not have had that mailbox sitting inside my house because whomever in my friends and family did not believe a full-sized outdoor mailbox should be sitting on a shelf by the bathroom in the hall or on the kitchen counter, etc – then my opportunities for it to do those things for me would have been non-existent. I could not have checked on the mail myself, because I wouldn’t have remembered it. That seems to me like it would look even sillier and crazier after a point of the mail piling up out there or people having to constantly be my reminder for it – than having a damn green mailbox sitting inside the house as part of the “decor”. But, people have ideas of what should and should not be used for – and some people can be pretty crappy about using things only for what they were originally intended – and in the manner for which they were originally intended – such as putting that mailbox on a post outside for the mail and only that and nothing but that and in only that way and place outside. It is obvious that those people like that have no disabilities they are owning up to – and think that everyone has the luxuries of that which they do. That goes without saying – into a lot of areas including the next one I wanted to add here.

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On the wall across from my kitchen, this shopping list, glow in the dark shape and the construct on down the wall – tell me entire volumes of information visually. The shopping list here is not used or written on – had tried it here with a 3×5 card actual list in the first place and it didn’t work, but seeing this old style list notepad like I used to use at one time, reminds me to check the food in the kitchen and to go shopping for it – find the shopping list and use it.

That others don’t have to put their keys in the same place this time and every time in order to function is their life, not my life. For me to not spend the next three or four months of my life lost and in a confused dysfunctional state of chaos – while I’m looking for my keys – it is easier for me to put them in the same place this time and every time as a compensating strategy habit. That is what makes sense for me. If I have a cellphone, the same thing is true – coming into the house and put it in the same place each time and then back to that place – because otherwise everything in my world comes to a halt while I search for the cellphone. People who do not have my disabilities, head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, stroke, and other problems both physical and mental – can throw their phone or keys wherever they land and it might not interrupt more than a few minutes of their lives to go look for them. Good for them – but that is not me and it is not a luxury I have or need. In setting up my living, working, home, studio, store, office, business, workshop, kitchen cooking spaces, and computer areas – I have to remember my strengths, and limitations – my needs and my real aids for compensating skills that overcome my disabilities which I will need in order to use those spaces.

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I had friends who would come over, see something like this and dump it “for me” into a box, closet, drawer or in the trash when no one including me had asked them to do that. They thought I should not be “hoarding” things and didn’t understand that these are tools I use to help myself do what they take for granted. Yes, they were grown adults who knew of my disabilities and should’ve known better. And, yes – more than one person did that over the thirty years – especially those who were trying to “help” me.

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My tools in use on my kitchen counter – off to one side away from where the counter is needed for food making and in a place that I see it whenever I go by it or walk through the room to anywhere else. It is in a very noticeable spot for me which works. In this case, these are used – not left blank but sometimes they are used blank rather than for written notes to be a visual identifier for something.

Because my strengths are visual, I am more inclusive of visual tools, mnemonic tools that are visual, visually based communication skills and adaptive living tools that are inherently more visual oriented. These tools work for many people though whether they have visual strengths left after the injury as mine were or not – however, people with certain disabilities as well as many caregivers do prefer that some of the visual tools have words that identify them along with the colors, shape, form or visual mnemonic that I use.

For instance, where there are caregivers who are verbally oriented, a post-it note folded over in the odd visuals that I use without any words on them rather cheated them of participating in its communication and use when they wanted to be of help to me. I couldn’t have changed it at the time because I wasn’t capable of adding the words that it meant – to the completed visual identifier to show how it was being used and what it was conveying to me and to my children and others. But, if I were making it now, I could add those verbal elements and it would make all the difference to those highly verbal people around me who might want to know what those identifiers, tools and communications in visual languages tell me.

This was to briefly say that making the adaptive living tools work for everyone is not necessary in order to use them – it could be helpful at times though – to add that extra interpretation for those caregivers and other family members and friends to know what it’s purpose conveys. In my life, I’ve noticed that sometimes when a person asked and I told them – like the kid’s play food eggs toy on the kitchen counter – why it was there and to please not “put it away” in the children’s toy box because it wasn’t theirs – sometimes, they’d remember and it would remind them to ask me whether I’d eaten or not, once they knew what it was for.

And, then sometimes some people – they’d just never get it and the next time they saw the thing sitting on the kitchen counter even after being told why it was there, would just have to go put it away – to “help me out” and to “help me get things done which I couldn’t possibly understand how they should be done” in their estimation of it all.

– cricketdiane

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For years I had one long dowel of this size slightly taller than I am which was bought at the hardware store and normally used as a closet dowel rod. By throwing it from one hand to the other, it makes possible to do an entire set of exercises that help me have both hands as well as to shift weight, balance, using both sides of the body and other critical things. Since about seven years ago, I’ve been using two dowel sticks instead – including this set that I use now. It allows me to throw each of them simultaneously across hands which I can do now although it has taken for-ever to learn how to do it and get my hands and body to get it right without dropping them in the process.

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The two blue handballs that I use for my hand exercises and to roll under the center of each foot are sitting in the corner of the bathtub where I can remember to do those exercises. One handball sold with the set of three is kept in my desk area where it is obvious sometimes and it used to be something found in my purse for the same reason.


Quick Skill Set –

Never lock the front outside door by the door handle on the way out it – use the key once on the outside only – to keep from getting locked outside without the keys accidentally.

Never assume that you are free to do things your own way in your own house if you have any disabilities at all but especially mental, intellectual, brain physiology, emotional and ptsd ones.

Never believe for one minute that others will know that you need it to be a certain way in your own environment in order for you to function better or that its more important than to have your decor look like a magazine picture or stage set in a sitcom or commercial. People, especially family members have a reputation to be considered and what it looks like is more important than what that environment may enable you to be able to do by looking a little “different”.

Never cook, turn on stove or over, make coffee, make toast or turn on heated things and appliances in the kitchen without turning on the overhead light of the stove – this time and every time. – Never leave the house or go to bed at night before checking to turn off any of those if still on – and then turning off the overhead stove light – this time, every time.

Never put keys, shoes, purse, socks, cellphones, wallet, id, bank cards, benefit cards, coats during winter, somewhere other than their “one place”. They should be easy to find on the way out especially in an emergency – but at any other time as well, without having to look for any of them – and that includes those belonging to children staying with you or spending the night to visit or living with you. It should include all other family members and roommates but they’ll never be doing it that way ever no matter what you say.

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Yes pink skeltie’s hand is in a glass votive candle holder – granddaughter set him up to explain something to me about the stuff sitting on the bathroom counter shelf – and it could break and go everywhere, then I couldn’t walk there. I’m working on fixing that now.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER assume that anyone – no matter how much they know about your disabilities will think you need to do things a bit differently in order to get the same success and opportunities to do them – whether it is getting shoes tied or starting a business or making sure to take a bath every day or so – or any of the other infinite array of skills, activities and daily living requirements, outings, work opportunities, etc. Even professionals in the field, family members who should know better, caregivers that do know better and friends that might want to understand – are not going to get it concerning why doing it exactly the same way they do – does not get the same results or get those results without severe repercussions as you would have from it. Even when they see it – they don’t see it because from where they stand, that problem simply doesn’t exist for them.

– cricketdiane


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Okay, not a magazine picture decor, but it works for me and because it is able to be this way freely – I can function and live independently along with continuing to get better every day. It works.



Daily Cards for Independent Living Tools


As part of what helped me to relearn writing and to get better at daily living, I made 3×5 cards with this set of items which I wrote out by hand each day. The process started my day and then as some of the things were done, they would be checked or before going to bed I would check off ones done – but usually the next morning before doing the next card. Sometimes during the day, I would come back to the card and check off things done and note some things that could then be done. It allowed me to see if it had been several days of not taking a walk or seeing other people too, which meant I could put that into whatever day I was in fairly quickly.

These cards were such a good part of my life recovering from disabilities that I’ve been meaning to make a version for the zazzle adaptive living tools store where people could buy them already made and ready to use. They are probably markable on the main side of the “postcard” that I used to make them on zazzle by using dry erase markers. But, on the reverse side where additions can be made by the individual and the family / caregiver, if desirable – is typical card stock as any postcard would be and that means a pen or pencil can write on it but to have wipe off – it would need to be laminated or sprayed with clear acrylic finish (found at craft stores).

Once, a friend who was a businessman said to me trying to be helpful, that the cards shouldn’t say the same things on and on, day after day, year after year or I was doing something wrong. But he was wrong. He didn’t know the tool and its purpose in my life, in my recovery and how it was helping me. I hope it will help others too. It is based on something I read in a book once that said, if you had a million dollars – what would you be doing with each day anyway? What things would be in your life that you would choose to engage in? Based on that, I made these items found on my cards (and on this version at my store.) It is always possible to make these another way, but they are really not a to-do list in any traditional or common manner.

After head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and other disabilities that affect the brain’s physiological functioning, things are simply different. Activities are easily forgotten that should be automatic without any disability and even more so with the distractions that commonly happen in daily living. It was also easier for me to learn and to remember that watering the plants day was on Tuesday, without ever understanding, learning nor remembering when Tuesday was happening – especially from one week to the next, or from one hour to the next day. It gets confusing even trying to explain how the daily activities that others take for granted are not easy for me to remember to incorporate in every day.

So, this list comes from the things I would include in my day even when I have billions of dollars, if that ever happens. And, that I may as well enjoy including in my todays until then regardless, because I can. And, the other things that should be there in each day whether I remember to do them or not – like eating, taking a bath, taking a walk, doing some art, learning things, doing some computer stuff, writing, etc. It is well worth doing and the addition of daily colors makes it easy to see across the room. For years I used white cards with markers used to color an edge for the daily colors and then I bought the more expensive color 3×5 cards to make each days’ card on its appropriate color. I was hand writing them to get my motor skills for writing back and better control of my hands doing what I wanted them to do. It isn’t necessary to hand write them for the tool to be used and useful.

These cards can be modified using the text editor on the product by clicking on the customize it button right below the picture of the card on its listing. The list could be made to hold other entries – or those can be written on the back – whatever works.

– cricketdiane



Visual Languages Are Rich, Varied and Concept Based But Not Based on Words and Verbal Languages As A Foundation

It is hard to imagine not having words for anything at all. It is harder to imagine not having the language systems to give context and meanings to language and words. But, that is often what happens from traumatic brain injury, stroke and other physiological changes to the brain. It is part of it in many, many cases.

When looking for communicative devices and tools to help people with these difficulties, I noticed that most did not approach language as I did when trying to help myself recover from head injury’s effects. Almost all the tools on the market and suggested by neurology rehab groups were, (and still are), predicated on the assumption of basic language skills and systems within the brain being available to process them, context them and provide untold meaning to them. That doesn’t work in some basic sense when those circuits in the brain are damaged.

And, as much as I know circuits in the brain after an injury or stroke can be “rewired” or “retrained” in a sense and relearning can be done to some extent given enough time and efforts, it looks like the primary approach about language by rehab groups is off a little.

For a person who has never had any damage to their brain and their closest experience to that of the difference may have occurred when very sick, very tired or stressed and sick and tired at the same time, it is probably hard to imagine when there are no words, no context, no language, sounds unseparated and no more than a fabric of cacophony.

In that moment, an arrow to show the way to an exit can be as much a roof on a house with a stick under it without any sensible meaning to indicate why it is there. How could such a confusion occur? And, yet – it is the part that is taken for granted which gives an “arrow” any meaning at all – it is the language processing acquired skills AND sets of interactions within the brain which do that. Without those operating, an arrow is no more than an interesting shape without context, without meaning and may or may not even separate itself from surrounding visual, auditory and tactile information, (all of which is incoming simultaneously.)

Visual languages therefore are not a line drawing of an apple to indicate it is an apple. The circuits required to process the assumptions most people have learned to make about that shape and its meaning as an apple and what that is – don’t necessarily fire in a damaged brain’s circuitry. Obviously enough, the brain’s circuits have to fire in specific sequences AND interactions to get all that anyway. Many psychiatric drugs are designed to flood the brain with chemicals to make its circuits fire which unfortunately, in the case of people who have had physiological damage & injury to their brain doesn’t help much, because it all fires at once or those damage neuro-synapses fire indiscriminately or not at all – flooding the entire chemistry with overwash for lack of a better term. It doesn’t fix the brain injury, doesn’t fire the neurons and regions interactively nor in sequential processing that would be as an undamaged normal brain’s circuits would do and neither does it effectively allow other regions of the brain to take over those jobs and be “rewired” and “retrained” to do those new jobs.

Regardless, language areas of the brain are often damaged by brain injury and stroke as well as when other physiological damage occurs especially to areas considered the “left-side” of the brain where many, but not all – language centers are located. Strangely but maybe rightly so, often a person with brain injury has other assets strengthen when those language centers and left-brain processing areas are damaged. And the visual languages are literally based on these, which are commonly right-brain styled thinking and processing skills – though often damage will occur not specifically right or left as if only all of one or the other remain.

In a world where there are no words, sounds are not delineated into wordforms. The indications that a person is speaking, may or may not indicate some sounds are occurring there – literally. Having a word that defines a thing or a context of a thing, or action, or sequence, or time, or concept like “if” – simply isn’t onboard – it isn’t there – when head injury has taken those circuits and deleted them. Under those circumstances, what good is it for someone to hold up an apple and keep saying to me apple, then give to me a little card or indicator on a computer console for apple or show to me holding the apple and taking a bite of it? How, in my world – does that tell me anything? First, I don’t know what you said or where the words started or ended as sounds floating in the air. Second, you’re waving some ball at me with odd spaces and shapes on it that don’t make any sense and why is it red? or is it? And Third, nothing about it indicates to me it would ever be something to eat or put in the mouth – (but note, I would probably choke on it anyway because half my throat has trouble swallowing a lot of times, so I have to be very careful about eating things like bacon, apples, nuts, even cereal that don’t swallow easily.)

So, honestly – on top of everything else, if I were to recognize that apple for what it is – I won’t trust you much after that because obviously you don’t know enough about me or about head injury or stroked to know that damn thing can choke me to death trying to eat it. Really. You just walked over from being a helper to being a very scary and dangerous person as far as I can tell – and you don’t know any better on top of that. Those are survival skills that are quickly relied upon to help me or anyone else who has had brain injury or stroke, especially when that has occurred after old enough in childhood to know anything about others. Visual language clues give me data points – that is all. It doesn’t mean they will be processed, nor does it mean they will be processed accurately or in ways you would assume they should be. That book of what it “should mean” went out the window when head injury damage occurred. And, that is the truth.

In my world, visual languages helped me for many years and still do. What is hard to express, is how they aren’t based in the same way people know language and words and word precepts and word concepts and sound distinctions of those words. It is probably more closely based upon obvious and observable elements reconstructed into meaningful cognitive interpretations with a more integrated and holistic processing mode. For instance, in visual languages – the page of something can mean something, anything without ever one word meaning anything on that page – even if it is filled with words. It can be placed next to another thing and have context based only on that placement together or in relationship to one another – and maybe only for temporary convenience as a reminder or learning a concept – or as a communication, a permanent note-taking or mnemonic or something learned – or even as a device to extend that information (and consequently communicate) to another.

Let me go get a photo of a space under my desk and it shows one of those in action – I have today, the ability to communicate through writing, words and verbal languages but I still feel more adequate and at ease with the visual languages and those systems I’ve been using to compensate for head injury, so commonly I’m using them around my home and throughout my daily world.

Visual Language Adaptive Living Tools Example 1 CricketDiane 2013

For instance – there is an Encyclopedia Britannica open to two pages with many words but two photos of very beautiful stately rooms in palaces or famous homes – hardly matters what they are as long as they look like home to me – and next to it is a book that is closed – but in close proximity to the other where they are commonly viewed simultaneously together – and it is a book called, Popular Science Mechanical Encyclopedia with its logo on the front looking like gears – a large and a small one whose teeth are fitting together as they turn – and something inside the small one as if a ship has been built and runs as a result of these things. All that conveyed to me – simply to have them sitting near where I’m sitting now and see them together – which also reminds me to get off my dead butt and get some simply wonderful, mechanical whizbang stuff created to make my house into a nicer palace that I like and enjoy and can show off to others too. It also reminds me that I can.

– cricketdiane


Introduction to this Visual Languages Blog for Independent Adaptive Living Tools and Compensating Strategies for People with Disabilities

Welcome to my newest addition –

Although there have been some posts on my main blog about the Visual Language Tools that I use and the Adaptive Living Tools that I use, this is the right place to learn more about them.

Visual Tools are like this – (as one example) (it is actually about half-way down pg)

DOOR OUT Sticker – for trailing along the pathway to the door and to place on the door where out can be found. – designed and developed by cricketdiane (that’s me.)

Today, I am starting this blog with some of the information I’ve previously posted on my cricketdiane blog as well as the store on Zazzle which has allowed me to offer to the public – my tools and those I’m creating similar to mine that I use to help compensate for brain injury and other disabilities.

This store at Zazzle is an on-demand platform, which means that when something is ordered – it is then made as its seen on the site. Customers can customize, add text, change or alter the elements of the design I’ve made in order to suit their own specific needs of the moment. And, what I like about it – that can be ordered as just one – or as many. Pretty nifty.

Adaptive Living Tools & Visual Language Tools Store by CricketDiane (on zazzle)*

That is the store address and there is another one I’ve made which has products that only have color on them (or some have patterns like glitter or checkerboard, etc.) Some of these can be used as a further visual tools group of products for visual language, mnemonics, organizing tools and adaptive living / compensating strategies elements. They too, can be ordered one at a time or several – and fully customized based on the needs of the moment.

Custom Design Palette Products With Only Color or Nothing But Pattern by CricketDiane (on zazzle)*


Though I haven’t started this blog well yet – its focus is intended to be a further explanation of using visual tools for language, mnemonics, everyday aids to compensate for disabilities’ shortcomings and difficulties. It is especially intended for mental / brain injury / intellectual / and emotional disabilities as from stroke, traumatic brain injury, head injury, domestic violence, post traumatic stress disorder and autism spectrum disorders (which challenge verbal skill sets.)

With each post, I would hope to explain a little more of how these tools were initially developed by me – to help myself live my daily life as interdependently and independently as possible with the hopes of being fully independent within the community much as anyone else. I say inter-dependently because it is important to realize that a circle of support / a network within the community of trusted advisers, mentors, helpers, friends and sometimes, professionals and social workers – can make it possible to live independently more or less successfully despite disabilities.

But, no one wants to need another to the extent that disabilities would have left me to need another. And, many people including the families of those with disabilities find themselves faced with this dilemma. As much as loved ones love me – neither I nor they want to have to do every single thing my physical living requires in a day – whether it is to wipe my own ass, or to remember to eat and the kinds of things to eat, or to remember how to button a shirt or to remember not to unbutton it in the first place & take it on and off by sliding it over my head.

No other person wants to be responsible for those infinite number of minutiae of everyday living for another person. And, it isn’t healthy for either person anyway. The caregiver tires of it and has their own life to live that was given to them AND the person with the disabilities has the greatest vested interest in being able to do it themselves and it be done right because they live with the real results (especially when it goes horribly wrong.)

I’ve also discovered it is not really safe to fully depend on others regardless. And, as I said – it isn’t healthy – not for the person with the disabilities, not for the caregivers and family members and certainly not for the community in the long run. It denies the full productivity of each one affected by it when the full dependence for everything that needs to be done for daily living of one person is put upon others to do or to keep up with getting it done.

There are vast stores of compensating strategies available for anyone to use. Unfortunately, those are rarely talked about – ever – by anybody. And, the reason for this is simple. No one wants anyone else to know they are using them when they are having to actually use them to function – so they don’t talk about it. The example where it is easy to see it – is for those whose shortcoming is illiteracy – they can’t read. Compensating strategies are often developed by people who have that difficulty including pretending they can read to let others see them doing it even though they can’t and tricking others into telling them what it says in the written words without letting on that they actually can’t read it themselves.

Those are easy to recognize compensating strategies because nearly everyone has heard of them where it concerns people who don’t know how to read. But rarely would anyone who has that problem tell of those things they are doing to compensate for it – and tell it honestly because they don’t feel good about why they are having to do it that way. That’s understandable.

So, the point is this – I’m going to write this blog to speak about visual language tools, visual languages (which are not as simple as a picture of an orange meaning an orange), compensating strategies for specifically brain-originating disabilities, visual and adaptive living tools, independent living for people with disabilities and specifically also about the tools that I’ve developed and have on my store for doing it. (Yes, I still use them myself to successfully navigate through each day and each moment of new tasks, new places, new experiences and understanding previous experiences, among other things.)

Not every tool that I use can be put on my store and some of those I’ll just share here in this blog and others can make them or get the pieces and construct them for themselves. Or, if I’ve found it through some manufacturer, store or resources – I’ll just say that and maybe if someone needs those tools, the things can be bought somewhere still. But, where the visual language tools need defining, explaining or for me to describe how I use them – I’ll put it here in this blog when I get to whatever it is and if someone wants to use it that way – fine. And, if they want to change it to use a somewhat different way – fine. And, if they want to use it exactly the opposite way of what works for me – fine. And, if something new or different is created as a result of being inspired to find some solutions that do work – then all the better and definitely what I want most out of all this.

So, welcome. I hope you will come back and read some more about these tools and strategies for living successfully and independently despite the drawbacks and difficulties of these disabilities. To start this off – I want to put the links here to other posts on my cricketdiane blog where I wrote about the visual and adaptive living tools awhile back – and then I’ll put some new things in the following days and hopefully, copy those posts over to their own special pages here on this blog –

Adaptive Living Tools Using The Visual Languages


And this is the section of my larger store at cricketdiane which has some visual communicative identifiers and adaptive living tools also – (then I realized it needed to have its own store, I might not have put all these onto the adaptive living tools store. I don’t remember now. But I will.)

The section of the CricketDiane Zazzle Store with Visual Identifiers, Visual & Adaptive Living Tools – and the Nothing But Color section that preceded its own store as well – (has other colors than the custom palette store in some cases).

Color Code It & Visual Identifiers Designs (on the CricketDiane main zazzle store)

Nothing But Color Designer Products (on the CricketDiane main zazzle store)


There were several blog post entries that I wrote about the adaptive living tools and visual identifiers – partly to explain how they came to be and why I use them, but also to explain how they can be used by others to make more things possible for them too. They are very customizable so it doesn’t matter if a black square magnet means one thing to me – it can be used another way by other families and people with disabilities to help know something or say something or to remember to do something.

And these two –

Adaptive Living Tools & Visual Language Tools Store by CricketDiane (on zazzle)*


Custom Design Palette Products With Only Color or Nothing But Pattern by CricketDiane (on zazzle)*