The Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS for short, is a widely used communication tool designed to help individuals with communication difficulties. It is a visual communication system that uses pictures to help individuals express their wants and needs.
PECS was developed in the 1980s by Lori Frost and Andrew Bondy, two special education teachers who were working with children with autism.
They found that traditional communication methods, such as speech and sign language, were not effective for some of their students. So, they developed a new system that would better meet their students' needs.
PECS is based on the idea that individuals with communication difficulties have a natural inclination to communicate through pictures. The system uses a series of picture cards that represent different objects, actions, and concepts. These cards can be used to make requests, initiate conversations, and share information.
The PECS system consists of six distinct phases. In the first phase, the individual is taught to exchange a single picture card for a desired item. This teaches the individual the basic concept of exchanging pictures for things they want.
In the second phase, the individual is taught to generalize the use of PECS across different environments and with different people. This phase helps the individual learn that the system is not limited to a specific setting or person.
The third phase involves teaching the individual to form simple sentences using two or more picture cards. This phase helps the individual learn to combine pictures to express more complex thoughts.
In the fourth phase, the individual is taught to answer questions using picture cards. This phase helps the individual learn to respond to questions and engage in conversations.
The fifth phase involves teaching the individual to use descriptive language and to comment on their environment using picture cards. This phase helps the individual learn to express their thoughts and feelings about their surroundings.
Finally, in the sixth phase, the individual is taught to use PECS to initiate social interactions and to communicate more abstract ideas and concepts.
PECS has been shown to be effective for individuals with a range of communication difficulties, including those with autism, Down syndrome, and developmental delays. The system has also been adapted for use with non-verbal adults and individuals with traumatic brain injuries.
In addition to its effectiveness, PECS is also a relatively easy system to learn and implement. It requires minimal equipment and can be used in a variety of settings, including at home, at school, and in the community.
PECS has several advantages over traditional communication methods. Unlike speech and sign language, which require a high level of cognitive and physical ability, PECS is accessible to individuals with a wide range of communication difficulties.
Another advantage of PECS is its flexibility. The system can be adapted to meet the unique needs of each individual user. For example, some individuals may benefit from using more abstract or symbolic pictures, while others may require more concrete representations.
PECS also encourages independence and self-advocacy. Because the system is based on pictures rather than verbal prompts, individuals are empowered to initiate their own communications and make their own choices.
Finally, PECS has been shown to improve social interaction skills in individuals with communication difficulties. By providing a structured system for communication, PECS helps individuals build the foundational skills necessary for successful social interactions.
PECS can be a powerful tool for parents and caregivers looking to support their loved ones with communication difficulties. By incorporating PECS into daily routines, parents and caregivers can help individuals develop their communication skills in a natural and supportive environment.
One way to use PECS at home is to create a visual schedule using picture cards. A visual schedule can help individuals understand the sequence of events throughout the day and can provide a sense of structure and routine.
Another way to use PECS at home is to incorporate picture cards into playtime. For example, parents or caregivers can use picture cards to label different toys or activities, helping individuals learn new vocabulary words and concepts.
It's also important for parents and caregivers to model the use of PECS themselves. By using picture cards when speaking with their loved ones, parents and caregivers can reinforce the importance of communication and encourage individuals to use the system themselves.
Finally, it's important for parents and caregivers to work closely with teachers, therapists, and other professionals when using PECS. By sharing information about an individual's progress with the system, everyone involved can work together to ensure that the individual's needs are being met both at home and in other settings.
One of the key strengths of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is its flexibility. The system can be adapted to meet the unique needs and abilities of each individual user.
For example, some individuals may require more concrete representations, while others may benefit from using more abstract or symbolic pictures. Additionally, some individuals may need additional support in learning how to use PECS, while others may progress quickly through the different phases.
It's important for educators and caregivers to take a personalized approach when implementing PECS with an individual. This means taking into account their specific communication goals, as well as any physical or cognitive limitations they may have.
By individualizing the PECS system for each user's unique needs and abilities, we can help ensure that they are able to communicate effectively and efficiently. This personalized approach also helps individuals feel empowered and engaged in their own learning process.
Ultimately, by taking a personalized approach to implementing PECS, we can help individuals with communication difficulties achieve greater independence and a higher quality of life.
The length of time it takes to see progress with PECS can vary depending on the individual using the system. Some individuals may progress quickly through the different phases, while others may require more time and support.
It's important for educators and caregivers to take a patient and individualized approach when implementing PECS, as progress can be influenced by factors such as cognitive ability, motor skills, and environmental factors.
Yes! PECS can be used alongside other communication methods, such as speech therapy or sign language. In fact, many individuals who use PECS also receive additional support in developing their verbal communication skills.
If an individual loses or damages their picture cards, replacements can easily be made. Caregivers and educators should keep a backup set of picture cards on hand at all times to ensure that individuals are always able to communicate effectively.
There is no set limit to the number of pictures an individual can use in their PECS system. The number of pictures used will depend on each individual's unique needs and abilities. Over time, some individuals may find that they are able to incorporate more complex concepts into their system by using additional pictures.
Yes! PECS has been adapted for use with non-verbal adults who have communication difficulties due to conditions such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. The system can help these individuals communicate more effectively and independently.
Overall, the Picture Exchange Communication System is a powerful tool for helping individuals with communication difficulties. With its focus on visual communication and its systematic approach, the system has helped countless individuals learn to express themselves and engage with the world around them.