Mikee Larrazabal 6 min read

Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS)

Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) is a type of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). PECS is used by people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Angelman Syndrome, and other disabilities. PECS is a system that helps people with these disabilities communicate by exchanging pictures with other people. Read more!

What is PECS?

The Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS, is a communication system that uses pictures to allow persons who have little or no speech ability to communicate. People learning PECS for communication are taught to approach another person and offer them a picture of something they want in return for it. As a result, the individual may start conversations. A kid with autism can utilize PECS to convey a request, an idea, or anything else that may reasonably be represented on a picture card at home or in school. In both settings, PECS is highly successful.

Pecs for communication

PECS is an evidence-based practice, which means that it has been shown to be effective in research studies. PECS has been found to be an effective way to teach communication skills to children with autism and other developmental disabilities. There are many success stories of children who have learned to communicate using PECS.

PEC is an example of an AAC device. AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication which helps individuals with speech impairments to enhance or supplement their communication.

How does PECS work?

PECS is based on the principle of conditioned reinforcement. The basic idea is that a child learns that by exchanging a picture of something he wants with someone, he will get that thing. In other words, the child learns that communication results in the desired outcome.

There are six phases to PECS.

Phase I

In this phase, the individual is taught to exchange a picture of a desired item with someone else in order to get that item. For example, a child may give a staff member a picture of the desired toy in order to receive it. This basic concept is expanded upon in later phases.

Phase II

The child learns to exchange multiple pictures in order to get a desired item. They also learn how to build chains of requests by combining two or more pictures. For example, a child may put a picture of a drink and a picture of ice cream together to request a milkshake.

Phase III

The child learns to respond to questions from others using pictures. They will also learn how to make spontaneous comments using pictures. For example, a child may put a picture of a dog on the table to tell others that he saw a dog outside.

Phase IV

The child begins using text along with the pictures to form sentences. This is done by labeling the pictures with words. For example, a child may label a picture of a dog with the word “dog”.

Phase V

The child starts typing on a keyboard or other AAC device to form sentences. For example, a child may type “I want a drink” on an AAC device to request a drink.

Phase VI

The child becomes more independent in their use of AAC and starts using it spontaneously in various settings. For example, a child may use an AAC device to request a drink at a restaurant.

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What are the benefits of PECS?

We understand that every child is unique, and therefore we tailor our approach to meet the individual needs of each child in our care. However, there are some general benefits that it can provide.

PECS can:

  • Help individuals with autism communicate. Children with autism often have difficulty communicating. PECS can help them to communicate their wants and needs.
  • Reduce challenging behavior. When children with autism are unable to communicate their wants and needs, they may act out in challenging ways. PECS for communication can help to reduce this challenging behavior by giving the child a way to communicate.
  • Increase language skills. PECS can help to increase the number of words that a child knows and uses.
  • Improve social skills. PECS can help to improve social skills by giving the child a way to interact with others.
  • Be used in various settings (e.g., home, school, work). PECS can be used in any setting where the child is present.
  • be used by people of all ages. PECS can be used by people of all ages, from young children to adults.
  • be used by people with a wide range of abilities. It can be used by people with a wide range of abilities, from those who are nonverbal to those who have some speech.

What are some things to consider before using PECS?

Before using PECS, it is important to consider the following:

Pecs boards
  • The individual’s ability to learn new skills
  • The individual’s motivation to use PECS for communication
  • The resources available (e.g., time, money, trained staff)

It is also important to get training from a qualified professional before implementing it.

How to make PECS boards

PECS boards can be made from a variety of materials, such as cardboard, construction paper, or poster board. The following steps can be used to make PECS boards:

1. Decide on the size of the board. PECS boards can be any size. However, it is important to consider the individual’s needs when deciding on the size. For example, a larger board may be needed for an individual who has difficulty seeing small objects.

2. Decide on the number of pictures to include. PECS boards can have any number of pictures. However, it is important to start with a small number of pictures and gradually increase the number as the individual learns to use the board.

Pecs boards

3. Choose the pictures to include. The pictures should be of things that the individual is interested in or wants. It is also important to choose pictures that are different from each other (e.g., don’t choose two pictures of dogs).

4. Attach the pictures to the board. The pictures can be glued, taped, or Velcroed to the board.

5. Label the pictures (optional). The pictures can be labeled with words, letters, or numbers. This step is optional and can be done as the individual learns to use the board.

Tips for using PECS

The following are some tips for using PECS:

  • Start with a small number of pictures and gradually increase the number as the individual learns to use the board.
  • Choose PECS pictures that are different from each other (e.g., don’t choose two pictures of dogs).
  • The PECS pictures should be of things that the individual is interested in or wants.
  • PECS pictures can be glued, taped, or Velcroed to the board.
  • The PECS pictures can be labeled with words, letters, or numbers. This step is optional and can be done as the individual learns to use the board.
  • Get training from a qualified professional before implementing PECS.

PECS for communication can be an effective way to help individuals with autism communicate. It is important to consider the individual’s needs and get training from a qualified professional before implementing it.

If you are interested in learning more about PECS, there are a number of resources available, including books, training courses, and online materials. You can also talk to your child’s therapist or doctor about PECS and whether it would be a good option for your child.