Picture Exchange Communication Systems (P.E.C.S.)

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)® is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system that provides a functional means of communication for individuals with a variety of cognitive, physical and communication challenges. It has been successfully implemented in children with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and deafness.

picture exchange communication systems PECS
picture exchange communication systems PECS
picture exchange communication systems PECS

The therapists at Reach use PECS® as an addition to the on-going Sensory Integration therapies. It is used with the intention of teaching young children with a communication impairment a way to communicate within a social context. Therapists use it as an adjunct, with focus on improving social participation, communication, and self-help skills.

The initial focus is on spontaneous communication. It consists of six phases.

The six phases of PECS®:
  • Phase I: How to CommunicateIndividuals learn to exchange single pictures for items/activities they really want.
  • Phase II: Distance and PersistenceStill using pictures, individuals learn to generalize 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 DiscriminationIndividuals learn to select from 2 or more pictures to ask for their favorite things. These are placed in a PECS Communication Book – a ringed binder with self-adhesive book fastener strips where pictures are stored and easily removed for communication.
  • Phase IV: Sentence StructureIndividuals learn to construct simple sentences on a detachable Sentence Strip using an “I want” picture followed by a picture of the item being requested.
  • Attributes & Language ExpansionIndividuals learn to expand their sentences by adding adjectives, verbs and prepositions.
  • Phase V: Responsive RequestingIndividuals learn to use PECS to answer questions such as “What do you want?”
  • Phase VI: CommentingIndividuals are taught to comment in response to questions such as, “What do you see?”, “What do you hear?” and “what is it?” They learn to make up sentences starting with “I see”, “I hear”, “I feel”, “It is a”, etc.
    PECS® doesn’t require complex or expensive materials since it uses picture symbols as the modality. Specific prompting and reinforcement strategies that will lead to independent communication are used throughout the protocol.
picture exchange communication systems PECS

The therapist at Reach use PECS® as an addition to the on-going Sensory Integration therapies. It is used with the intention of teaching young children with a communication impairment a way to communicate within a social context. Therapists use it as an adjunct, with focus on improving social participation, communication, and self-help skills.

The initial focus is on spontaneous communication. It consists of six phases.

The six phases of PECS®:
  • Phase I: How to CommunicateIndividuals learn to exchange single pictures for items/activities they really want.
  • Phase II: Distance and PersistenceStill using pictures, individuals learn to generalize this new skill by using it in different places, with different people and across distances. They are also taught to be more persistent communicators.
picture exchange communication systems PECS
  • Phase III: Picture DiscriminationIndividuals learn to select from 2 or more pictures to ask for their favorite things. These are placed in a PECS Communication Book – a ringed binder with self-adhesive book fastener strips where pictures are stored and easily removed for communication.
  • Phase IV: Sentence StructureIndividuals learn to construct simple sentences on a detachable Sentence Strip using an “I want” picture followed by a picture of the item being requested.
picture exchange communication systems PECS
  • Attributes & Language ExpansionIndividuals learn to expand their sentences by adding adjectives, verbs and prepositions.
  • Phase V: Responsive RequestingIndividuals learn to use PECS to answer questions such as “What do you want?”
  • Phase VI: CommentingIndividuals are taught to comment in response to questions such as, “What do you see?”, “What do you hear?” and “what is it?” They learn to make up sentences starting with “I see”, “I hear”, “I feel”, “It is a”, etc.
    PECS® doesn’t require complex or expensive materials since it uses picture symbols as the modality. Specific prompting and reinforcement strategies that will lead to independent communication are used throughout the protocol.