What is PECS?

November 20, 2014

Communication is a skill that many of us take for granted.  For some people, (children and adults alike), with autism spectrum disorders communication can be beyond frustrating.  The PECS program can help.  The Picture Exchange Communication System, also known as PECS, is a form of alternative and augmentative communication in which a child is taught to communicate with an adult by giving them a card with a picture on it. This extremely useful tool is based upon the idea that children who can’t talk or write can be taught to communicate using pictures.

First used with non-verbal children with autism, the Picture Exchange Communication System has also been used with adolescents and adults who have a wide range of communicative, cognitive and physical difficulties.  For people struggling with communication difficulties, the PECS program allows them to communicate non-verbally. Children using PECS are taught to approach another person and give them a picture of a desired item in exchange for that item. This child initiation of communication can be used at home or in the classroom. Virtually anything that can be symbolized, can be added to the picture board to help a child get their point across or express their feelings.  Due to this, tantrums and frustrations are kept to a minimum and encourage the child to communicate in other ways including verbal communication.  There are several studies that now support that this non verbal method encourages verbal communication.  To read more about these studies please read.