What is PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)?

PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System is an augmentative and alternative form of communication that can be used across ages and disabilities.  It teaches functional communication that is immediately useful for individuals who have either not developed speech or who have lost speech.

Common Questions about PECS:

What about speech?

Many parents are concerned that by implementing PECS, we are disregarding speech or talking. That is not the case.  While implementing PECS, we are also addressing the development of speech. For those that have the ability to speak, we are continuously modeling and encouraging speech throughout the entire process.

Who is a good candidate for PECS?

  •      Anyone not using functional communication
  •      Anyone whose current form of communication is not easily understood by others
  •      Anyone who is not initiating communication
  •      Anyone needing increased length of utterance
  •      Anyone who needs to increase his/her vocabulary

How is PECS taught?

PECS is taught in phases, some of which require 2 adults.

  • Phase I: The goal of Phase I is to initiate communicative interaction. The child is taught to make requests by giving a single picture to the communication partner who is sitting directly across from him.
  • Phase II: The goal of Phase II is to teach the child to persist in making his requests across obstacles.  We are teaching the child to either take the picture or the entire PECS book to the communication partner (who may not be right next to him) and make a request.
  • Phase III: The goal of Phase III is to teach the child to choose from a larger array of pictures in his book to make requests.
  • Phase IV: The goal of Phase IV is to build toward spontaneous requesting.  This will allow the child to use complete sentences when making requests or making comments.

Who is qualified to teach PECS?

Only people who have been trained in PECS are qualified to teach the exact protocol.  If your child is learning to use PECS, it is very important for you to learn it as well.  The PECS protocol will only be successful if everyone interacting with the child is on the same page and has the same expectations for the child.

If you have more questions about PECS or your child’s speech, contact a speech therapist.