What is Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and why is it useful for people with speech disorders?


image exchange communication system (PECS) is a type Augmented and Alternative Communication System (SAAC) based on images, intended to facilitate communication in people with autism spectrum disorder (TEA) or any disability Which hinders speech development.

Its use is more widespread Children – from 14 months– than adults, because in his case speech is no longer a goal. However, it can also be useful in, “In the cases where we work with adults, we can see how this allows them to communicate and understand the environment better,” says Sonia Villaltella, director of Pyramid Educational Consultant in SpainThe company that owns PECS.

This system, based on the exchange of images between the subject and the speech therapist, teacher or person in charge of the session, follows a protocol based on six steps to teach the expressive use of images. The purpose is that the child or adult learns to take an initiative Spontaneous communication and social interaction with the rest.

pecs presents different Benefit Compared to other SAACs, as explained by Maria Zaballos, speech therapist: “It’s easy to learn, doesn’t require complicated or expensive materials or advanced training to teach you how to use it, it is Helps in all areas of a child’s life, attracts their attention and requires minimal motor skills.

You only need one to work with PECS binder with rings and self adhesive bandages Where the images are saved.

pycs notebook
pycs notebook
Pyramid Educational Consultant

System designed for children with autism

PECS was developed In United States in 1985 By Andy Bondi and Lori Frost as part of the ‘Delaware Autism Program’, aimed at preschool children with ASD. Its creators sought a teaching protocol in which the child, not the teacher, initiated social interaction, unlike other communication techniques such as imitation of speech or sign language.

Although the system was originally designed for young children with ASD, its success and proven efficacy have led to it being implemented in people with severe communication disorder Such as Down syndrome, Angelman syndrome, hearing impairment or specific language disorder (SLI).

The method is based on the book ‘verbal conduct’, Experimental psychologist BF-Skinner K, and combines knowledge from the fields of ‘Applied Behavior Analysis’ (ABA) and the science of language.

Step Six: From exchanging images to building sentences

Learning with this system is done progressively, through six didactic steps, “The first is intended for the child to become familiar with the system and involves giving an image to the receiver so that he/she finds the desired object. Once this is understood, he/she begins to combine multiple images to form sentences. When the last stage will end The child is able to communicate intuitively and functionallyZabalos explains.

Next, we explain what these consist of. six steps,

  1. how to communicate: The individual learns to exchange different images for articles or activities of his choice. In this way, while delivering an image to the receiver, it receives the desired object.
  2. distance and firmness: The subject learns to generalize this new skill in different places, with different people, and by establishing distances.
  3. Image discrimination: The individual learns to choose between two or more images.
  4. sentence structure: Begin by linking several images together to form simple sentences in a detachable ‘sentence bar’, using an image with the word “I want to” use an image of the object being requested. In this step, additional vocabulary can be added to the sentences (adjectives, verbs and prepositions… etc.).
  5. request in responseUser: “What do you want?” Learn to use PECS to answer questions like
  6. Comment: “What do you see?”, “What do you hear?” Like answering questions and start commenting. Or, what is it?”. Also, you learn to write sentences that begin with “I see”, “I hear” or “I feel.”
teacher with two children using PECS
teacher with two children using PECS
Pyramid Educational Consultant

free and easy communication

Research from the 1960s has shown that the SAAC, contrary to what one might think, They do not hinder the development of speech, but rather facilitate it.To “enhance and/or compensate for the communication and language difficulties of many people with difficulties in this area”, as indicated by the Aragonese Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ARASAC).

However, it may happen that The child’s speech does not develop after using it: “The purpose of PECS is to promote communication. Speech is an ability that not all people with a communication disorder can develop despite using SAAC, as it takes significant development time and requires an entire system complex which is beyond myofunctional potential,” says the director of Pyramid Educational Consultants in Spain.

The ultimate goal of PECS is to teach people start a communication conversation, Therefore, it is also useful for people who can talk but do not understand the needs of social interaction or simply answer questions that are asked.

Uses PECS Support and Reinforcement Strategies With the aim of encouraging the individual’s independent communication and promoting their spontaneity. Protocols also include the introduction of attributes into the language, such as colors or dimensions.

“Many studies show Increase vocabulary and improve seamless communication Thanks to PECS for children”, says the speech therapist.

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