PECS is an intervention used with people with Autism to support their ability to express themselves using pictures. More than using pictures for visual support, PECS is a functional communication system that develops important communication and social skills.
PECS is appropriate for people of all ages with a wide range of learning difficulties. Originally developed for pre-school children with autism, PECS is now being successfully used with adults and children with a range of communication difficulties. PECS can be used anywhere that someone communicates.
The six phases of PECS
Phase I – How to Communicate
Students learn to exchange single pictures for items or activities they really want.
Phase II – Distance and Persistence
Still using single pictures, students learn to generalise this new skill by using it in different places, with different people and across distances. They are also taught to be more persistent communicators.
Phase III – Picture Discrimination
Students learn to select from 2 or more pictures to ask for their favourite things. These are placed in a communication book – a ring binder with Velcro® strips allowing pictures to be stored and easily removed for communication.
Phase IV – 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.
Phase V – Answering Questions
Students learn to use PECS to answer the question, “What do you want?”
Phase VI – Commenting
Now students are taught to comment in response to questions like ‘What do you see?’, ‘What do you hear?’, ‘What is it?’, etc. They learn to make up sentences starting with ‘I see’, ‘I hear’, ‘I feel’, ‘It is a’, etc.
Attributes and Language Expansion
Students learn to expand their sentences by adding adjectives, verbs, prepositions, etc.