So, I’m a day off with my Autism A to Z series as this was supposed to be up on Saturday. But life got in the way (and no, I’m not planning these out like I should be..) so yeah. We’re back with another part of the Autism A to Z series and today, P is for PECS. I was also debating if today should be for PICA but we’ll cover that in another post. Maybe as an additions series to Autism A to Z.
So first, let’s get those initials out of the way! PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System and was created (as it’s known in the PECS form) by Pyramid Educational Consultants.
PECS was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. PECS does not require complex or expensive materials. It was created with families, educators, and resident care providers in mind, so is readily used in a range of settings.
There are Six Phases of PECS:
1- How to Communicate
Students learn to exchange single pictures for items or activities they really want.
2- Distance and Persistence
Still using single pictures, students learn to generalize this new skill by using it in different places, with different people and across distances. They are also taught to be more persistent communicators.
3- Picture Discrimination
Students learn to select from two or more pictures to ask for their favorite things. These are placed in a communication book—a ring binder with Velcro® strips where pictures are stored and easily removed for communication.
4- Sentence Structure
Students learn to construct simple sentences on a detachable sentence strip using an “I want” picture followed by a picture of the item being requested.
5- Answering Questions
Students learn to use PECS to answer the question, “What do you want?”
Now students are taught to comment in response to questions such as, “What do you see?”, “What do you hear?” and “What is it?”. They learn to make up sentences starting with “I see”, “I hear”, “I feel”, “It is a”, etc.
Sweet B is up to Phase 6 in PECS and has been using PECS since she was about 3 years old. Her language was already heavily delayed and her SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) wanted to give her a form of communication that she could carry with her from school to home and home to school. She does use PECS pretty consistently at home and it’s her main form of communication at school.