PECS

PICTURE EXCHANGE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

Our school is equipped with PECS cards etc. and we are using it to improve communication skills among our pupils. What are PECS cards or PECS system?

PECS is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system developed in the USA in 1985 by Andy Bondy, PhD, and Lori Frost, MS, CCC-SLP. PECS was first implemented with pre-school students diagnosed with autism at the Delaware Autism Program. Since then, PECS has successfully been implemented worldwide with thousands of learners of all ages who have various cognitive, physical and communication challenges.

The PECS teaching protocol is based on B.F. Skinner’s book, Verbal Behaviorand broad spectrum applied behaviour analysis. Specific prompting and reinforcement strategies that will lead to independent communication are used throughout the protocol. The protocol also includes systematic error correction procedures to promote learning if an error occurs. Verbal prompts are not used, thus building immediate initiation and avoiding prompt dependency.

PECS consists of six phases and begins by teaching an individual to give a single picture of a desired item or action to a “communicative partner” who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to use modifiers, answer questions and comment.

The primary goal of PECS is to teach functional communication. Research has shown that some learners using PECS also develop speech. Others may transition to a speech generating device (SGD).