Picture Exchange Communication System 

Picture Exchange Communication System (P.E.C.S.)  is an alternative communication tool and strategy used to progress, improve, and expand upon an individuals' communication with others. Picture Exchange Communication System allows individuals to communicate (typically for the needs of commenting, identifying, and requesting) with others not with speech, but through the use of physical exchange of pictures. Picture Exchange Communication System typically show images on cards and these images can range from animated illustrations to real life photographs. Picture Exchange Communication System is primarily used with individual who are nonverbal, many of which also have been formally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Picture Exchange Communication System cards are one of the most common and effective tools used to promote communication in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy today. Picture Exchange Communication System cards are presented in a strategy way that include the word that matches the photo/illustration shown at the top of the card in black bolded print. This allows individuals to connect the photo/illustration shown on each card with the written form of the word, which promotes letter recognition, word recognition, continuity, repetition, and improves communication. Often times, nonverbal individuals can get frustrated with the lack of communication and demonstrate their frustration through undesired actions. Picture Exchange Communication System cards provide an efficient and effective way to allow nonverbal individuals to communicate their wants, needs, and preferences with others.

 

Steps to Use Picture Exchange Communication System in a Lesson 

  1. Identify 3 reinforcers (i.e. toys, items, snacks, activities, candy, etc.) that your child wants

  2. Identify these 3 reinforcers by noticing what items they like to hold on to, gravitate towards, spend a lot of time with, and do not want to give away. Each child will have reinforcers that are specific to them.

  3. Correspond picture symbols. Identify if you would like to use Picture Exchange Communication System cards that have illustrations or real life photographs.

  4. Find a symbol that represents the item and give the picture a label. Everyone should refer to the picture on that card with the same name.

  5. If you find the Picture Exchange Communication System card to not be sturdy, lamination is recommended to promote durability of the card.

  6. Add some type of hook-and-loop type fasteners (i.e. Velcro) to the back of the Picture Exchange Communication System card and Picture Exchange Communication System book/ tab, so that the cards can be applied, stationary, and removed on the book in any desired order. 

  7. Picture Exchange Communication System cards can also be used without a book or tab. These cards can be organized by category and placed on a book ring or used independently from any additional materials. Picture Exchange Communication System cards can also be exchanged when trying to communicate with others. (i.e. child handing a parent a card with a pizza on it to signify that he/she would like to eat pizza.)

  8. Once you have all the materials you need, choose one Picture Exchange Communication System card (such as "candy"), sit the child in front of you, show the child the piece of candy along with candy Picture Exchange Communication System card. 

  9. Build a connection between the piece of candy and the Picture Exchange Communication System candy card.

  10. Say the word "candy" while giving the child a piece of candy and showing them the candy card. Place the candy card in the child's hand. Have the child give you the candy card while you give them the piece of candy. This works best with two individuals helping with this process. 

  11. When building language language, try to keep it simple. Limit your words. Try to use the words on the Picture Exchange Communication System cards, and limit other words spoken to the child when trying to connect Picture Exchange Communication System cards to items. 

  12. Reinforce through repetition. Be patient. 

  13. Child should make a connection between the exchange of the candy card with receiving the piece of candy.

  14. Remove the candy from the child's sight, place the candy card in front of the child, and have them give you the candy card in efforts to receive a piece of candy.

  15. Reinforce through repetition. Be patient. 

  16. Use this same strategy with different items, such as toys, foods, activities, etc.

Common Categories Included on Picture Exchange Communication System Cards

  • Animals

  • Colors

  • Shapes

  • Emotions/Feelings

  • Activities

  • Alphabet

  • Numbers

  • Articles of Clothing

  • Days of the Week

  • Health

  • Toys

  • Weather

  • School

  • Home

  • Food

  • Places

  • Signs/Speech

  • Descriptions

Sample:

Picture Exchange Communication System Illustrated Cards 

Sample:

Picture Exchange Communication System Photo Cards 

Common Ways to Use Picture Exchange Communication System Cards 

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