PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System): Helping Your Non-Verbal Child to Communicate

For many parents, who have a non-verbal child, it is frustrating to watch their child and not be able to figure out how to help them connect with others, communicate even their most simple desires, or have them initiate interactions with adults or children around them. One strategy that has proven effective over the years in teaching children to communicate in a step by step manner that can also be used successfully in the home is PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System. PECS uses pictures or picture symbols instead of words to initially communicate and encourages the child to be the initiator of communication. It can be easily used by everyone in the child’s environment because it doesn’t require any specialized knowledge or skill. Children learn to use pictures given to someone to get their wants and needs met: by handing a picture to someone, they “tell” them what it is they want.

We encourage parents to label all the items in the house by putting real life pictures or picture symbols of each object at or close to the object. Use double sided Velcro tape to attach 온라인홀덤. pictures and make sure to laminate pictures: handling pictures frequently can cause them to rip or shred quickly! Parents may want to attach pictures of favorite foods or drinks in the refrigerator or cupboards on those places, or favorite toys in the toy box, clothes in the dresser, music or dvd’s on the case where they are stored. It’s important to think about what is highly motivating to your child. For the child who is interested in dinosaurs, or Thomas the Tank Engine Trains, or a favorite DVD or computer game, it’s important to provide pictures of those items so they can let us know what they want to talk about or request from us.

You might begin by providing the child with two or three objects they really like in plastic containers with the matching pictures on a table in front of the object; as they reach for the object they want, help them to reach for the picture and give it to you. When they hand you the picture, you tell them, “Oh you want the cookie? Here’s the cookie” and hand them the real object. Continue to encourage them to reach for the pictures of things they want: you may need to put objects out of reach and have pictures within reach; as you see what they are looking at or reaching for, hand them the picture, teaching them by giving you the picture they can get the object.

Once they learn that giving the picture gets them what they want, expand their communication; we sometimes use phrases or sentences the child fills in. We might have laminated phrases that say “I want __” and the child adds the picture of the object they want to the phrase and we ask them to tap at each word as we “read” together. As children use phrases more consistently we add more vocabulary to help them communicate more information: I want the blue shirt, or the red fire truck.

Pictures or picture symbols may be hand drawn, they might be real life photos or symbols from published vocabularies repertoires such as Mayer-Johnson. It doesn’t matter what you choose to use, only that you continue to expand the choices for each child so that as they grow and their interests change we continue to give them the vocabulary they need to communicate.

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