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Picture Exchange Communication System(PECS) : 

Picture Exchange Communication System(PECS) Megan Duff Azusa Pacific University 2010

Introduction : 

Introduction This system was developed for non-verbal children with Autism; however it can also be used with other non-verbal students as well (Bondy & Frost, 1994). Aims to teach spontaneous social-communication skills by means of symbols or pictures. Teaching relies on behavioral strategies (Howlin, Gordon, Pasco, Wade, & Charman, 2007).

History : 

History Educators have used various alternative communication systems for non-verbal students. Educators often teach picture labeling as a first form of communication. However pointing to pictures doesn’t always ensure that there will be someone there to listen and receive the request.

Solution: PECS : 

Solution: PECS Requesting a desired object has a specified antecedent that reinforces the communication. Physically handing a picture to another person requires an actual communication exchange to take place. This helps the child to communicate within a desired social context. Based on this information and more, Bondy and Frost developed the 6 phases of PECS. (Bondy and Frost, 1994)

Phase I: Teaching the Physically Assisted Exchange : 

Phase I: Teaching the Physically Assisted Exchange Begins by teaching the student how to physically exchange a picture for a desired item. Includes how to reach, pick up, and deliver the picture to the communication partners hand, to request a desired item. (Liddle, 2001)

Phase I continued… : 

Phase I continued… To implement have on hand highly desired objects for the student as well as corresponding pictures. Don’t ask, “What do you want?”, we want to avoid prompt dependent responses (Bondy and Frost, 1994). Have the desired item in view. As the student reaches for the item, teacher prompts student to pick up picture card and place in his/her hand, then gives student desired item.

Phase II: Expanding Spontaneity : 

Phase II: Expanding Spontaneity Phase I the instructor is next to the child. Phase II the instructor increases their distance of themselves and the communication board. The student begins to learn to initiate communicative exchanges more spontaneously by completing the exchange without subtle trainer prompts.

Phase II continued… : 

Phase II continued… Student is taught a variety of reinforcers to increase picture vocabulary. Important to create a variety of requests and practice communicating with a variety of people in order to increase effectiveness and generalization.

Phase II Outcome : 

Phase II Outcome Spontaneous Communication Takes Place!!! With the adult and communication board at a distance, the student will go to the board, take off the desired item, and bring it over to the adult releasing the picture into their hand (Bondy & Frost, 1994).

Phase III: Simultaneous Discrimination of Pictures : 

Phase III: Simultaneous Discrimination of Pictures Begins by introducing new pictures to the communication board. Instructor sets up specific scenarios where the student will request a certain object. This phase teaches discrimination between items that are highly preferred to those that have a lower preference. Teaches students how to request specific items. Teaches children the concept of choice. (Liddle, 2001)

Phase IV: Building Sentence Structure : 

Phase IV: Building Sentence Structure Students communication system contains about 12-20 pictures. Student is taught to request an item with a picture of the sentence starter “I want” They place the sentence starter on the sentence strip followed by the desired item. (Bondy & Frost, 1994)

Phase V: Responding to “What do you want?” : 

Phase V: Responding to “What do you want?” In this phase, the child is taught to respond to the direct question "What do you want?" The goal of this phase is for the child to respond to "What do you want?" whether or not the object (referent) is present.

Phase VI: Commenting in Response to a Question : 

Phase VI: Commenting in Response to a Question Students are taught to answer questions such as “what do you hear/see?” Vocabulary expansion comes in at this stage to include adjectives, verbs, etc.

Example: What do you see? : 

Example: What do you see? I see a yellow bird (Student would use picture symbols for this sentence)

Phase VI and beyond : 

Phase VI and beyond “The ongoing goal is to improve the child's functional communicative repertoire by adding various terms to his or her vocabulary (attributes, verb concepts, location concepts, etc.), increasing communicative functions, and teaching a differentiated yes/no response” (Bondy & Frost, 1994). Teaching to respond to extended questions like: “Is this a …?” “Do you want…?”

PECS Implemented : 

PECS Implemented Click on the following link to see how PECS is taught and implemented PECS Video

Effectiveness of PECS : 

Effectiveness of PECS In a study by Howlin et al. (2007), found that this system is most effective when teachers are provided with training as well as classroom support from professionals. Results were maintained with those professionals receiving support.

Effectiveness continued… : 

Effectiveness continued… A study by Liddle followed 20 students with autism and/or severe learning disabilities who were introduced to PECS over a given year. Results: All but 1 student learned to use PECS to request desired items. 55% learned to use sentence strips. 72% of the 55% learned to sequence up to 4 symbols (ex: “I want a big blue car”).

Outcome : 

Outcome This system is highly effective with ASD students and students with other severe disabilities. In a study by Bondy & Frost (1994) following 85 autistic students: 95% learned to use 2 + pictures with the exchange format. 59% acquired speech within the first year. 29% use a combination of speech and pictures. 41% use solely speech.

References : 

References Bondy, A. & Frost, L. (1994). The picture exchange communication system. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 9(3), 1-19. Howlin, P., Gordon, R.K., Pasco, G., Wade, A., & Charman, T. (2007). The effectiveness of picture exchange communication system (PECS) training for teachers of children with autism: A pragmatic group randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48 (5), 473-481. Liddle, K. (2001). Implementing the picture exchange communication system (PECS). International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 36, 391-395.

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