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Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

PECS stands for "Picture Exchange Communication System".  The Pyramid Approach to Education has developed PECS as an approach to develop effective and functional communication for children and adults with various types of communications difficulties including autism.  PECS teaches the skill of initiating a request by exchanging a picture (or sentence strip) for a desired item.  It is based on applied behavioural analysis and is a tried and tested approach that gives a child immediate success and motivation to communicate.

J is non-verbal and PECS enables him to point to the sentence he has created to ask his mum "I want-elephant-animal biscuit".

J's MUM: PECS has given J his own 'voice' and independence. It's a very clever visual tool that could be understood by others, even if you haven't ever heard of PECS...using PECS alongside some basic signs...has allowed J to communicate so much more than we thought could be possible!

How PECS works...

In Phase I, we start off by offering a motivating toy or item of food to the child in exchange for a picture of that item. Once the child has understood the idea of exchanging a picture to communicate a request, we introduce the PECS book and work through Phases II and III, where the child is taught to find and then select the picture he wants to exchange with an adult in order to get the reward.

L is at Phase III b here, where he exchanges a picture to choose between two items: bubbles or Tombliboo!

These are both items he likes so it is harder for him to choose.

L's mum: Since introducing PECS L's speech has improved immensely. So far I feel confident in the improvement... I look forward to the following weeks!

A is at Phase IV, where he combines 2 pictures to build an "I want..." sentence...

First he selects the pictures he wants to make his sentence

Then once he has built his sentence on the sentence strip, he gives the sentence strip to his mum

He then reads his sentence "I want robot"

Mum is pleased to give him the robot he has successfully asked for!

J is at Phase V demonstrating below how he can build his 3 part sentence, exchange the sentence strip and point to each picture for his mum to read the sentence he has made.  He will soon be ready to start Phase VI when he will use more elaborate sentences to comment on things.

A's DAD: He used to simply echo what was said to him - now, with the help of his PECS book,  he communicates with us in full spoken sentences!  He is much less frustrated as a result!

ANNETTE: I find PECS such an invaluable therapy approach.  It is the only successful way I have found to teach a child the skill of understanding the 'need' to communicate.  Whether the child is verbal or non-verbal, PECS can have a huge effect on the child's ability to communicate in a meaningful and functional way. 

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