Symbols are used throughout the school with pupils to support their communication and learning. The symbols we use within school and for the PECS and Teacch programmes are from the symbol set produced by Widgit. In school we have the programme Communicate In Print 2.
The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). PECS is an approach that develops early expressive communication skills using pictures/symbols. More than using pictures for visual support, PECS is a functional communication system that develops important communication and social skills.
PECS is appropriate for people of all ages with a wide range of learning difficulties.
It was originally developed for pre-school children with autism; PECS is now being successfully used with adults and children with a range of communication difficulties.
PECS is based on a tried and tested model
PECS focuses on important and meaningful communication that is initiated by the student rather than being dependent on prompts from another person.
PECS focuses on communication that is relevant and motivating to each student
Students are taught to exchange pictures for things they want in their environment. For example, if they want a drink they will give a picture of a drink to an adult who will then give them a drink.
PECS teaches students to initiate, as spontaneous communication is the goal
Using this ‘exchange’ format, skills that are critical to communication, such as approaching another person, interacting with that person, and doing this spontaneously, are incorporated from the start.
PECS has a clear programme to follow, divided into six phases
Beginning with using single pictures to communicate their needs, students are then taught to discriminate, or choose, between a variety of pictures and then to construct increasingly complex sentences. The pictures and sentence strip are all stored in a portable communication book, attached with Velcro®‚ so they can be easily removed when the student wants to communicate.