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Communication Pictures For Autism

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Monitoring Individual Student Progress

Non-verbal children living with autism learning to communicate via electronic devices

The methods described throughout this module can be used to monitor a students progress in all of the phases. These will be discussed later. Accessing existing progress monitoring forms and checklists shall require purchasing the Picture Exchange Communication System Training Manual from

PECS training begins once the key players , have identified and developed the reinforcers and initial materials. The six instructional phases are outlined next.

Each phase of the training process needs monitoring individual student progress. It is essential to do so as it helps teachers and other professionals to make informed decisions . The developers of PECS have recommended multiple, day-long communication training opportunities, with training continuing within each phase till the child reaches 80% or greater proficiency that he/she exhibits for a minimum of three days. Then its time to move on to the next phase.

It Can Encourage Speech

Many parents are afraid of any type of augmentative communication will inhibit individuals from developing speech. We have no research that has found this to be true. We do have research that shows that PECS can increase speech over time. Some individuals naturally drop using PECS when they become more proficient because using their speech is much more efficient. PECS builds in reinforcement protocols and strategies for encouraging and reinforcing speech specifically. As such, learning to communicate makes it more likely that individuals will use speech and if they dont use speech proficiently, it gives them a functional way to communicate.

Who Can Use Pecs Cards And Where

Any professional, parent, or caregiver may use PECS procedures. However, professional training is recommended beforehand and it is available from the developers and marketeers of the PECS system. For professionals who want to get certified, the training is provided through Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc. and more information is available from

The information in this module is intended to provide a detailed overview of a successful implementation of PECS and supplemental training for parents and paraprofessionals who would like to operate within varied educational and community-based settings.

Implementation of PECS can occur anywhere communication is desired or needed. It is valid across a variety of settings, including home, school and community.

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What Is The Picture Exchange Communication System Used For

The Picture Exchange Communication System gives people without spoken language or with limited spoken language skills an alternative way to communicate. PECS can also increase peoples communication skills. For example, autistic people can learn to use the cards to ask for things, make comments and answer questions.

A Background Of Autism Pecs

Communication Book for Autism and Special Education

PECS was initially developed at the Delaware Autistic Program in 1994. As an alternative communication system, it has been demonstrated and widely adopted since. Research literatures have accounts of PECS to promote speech development and productivity. Now it is an updated version of the original procedures thats used. This post will define PECS communication pictures and outline the steps for an effective implementation. It will also provide specific examples of usage across various settings and age groups.

Note: The strategies require trained, professional supervision while implementing PECS across a wide range of age groups. It can start during preschool and can be used lifelong for ASD-affected individuals to communicate efficiently.

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How Does Asd Affect Communication

The word autism has its origin in the Greek word autos, which means self. Children with ASD are often self-absorbed and seem to exist in a private world in which they have limited ability to successfully communicate and interact with others. Children with ASD may have difficulty developing language skills and understanding what others say to them. They also often have difficulty communicating nonverbally, such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.

The ability of children with ASD to communicate and use language depends on their intellectual and social development. Some children with ASD may not be able to communicate using speech or language, and some may have very limited speaking skills. Others may have rich vocabularies and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. Many have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences. They also may be unable to understand body language and the meanings of different vocal tones. Taken together, these difficulties affect the ability of children with ASD to interact with others, especially people their own age.

Below are some patterns of language use and behaviors that are often found in children with ASD.

The Importance Of Visual Aids For Autism

Visual aids expand a child with autisms ability to interact with his/her surroundings. They can give children a sense of autonomy and allow them to make choices and express needs. Visual aids also help children comprehend daily rhythms and have input in their activities. Perhaps most importantly, visual aids can open lines of communication between children with ASD and their caretakers.

Families who previously struggled to understand their childs needs, endured meltdowns, and tried to reassure anxious children, can find some respite in opening lines of communication. Most importantly, children can learn how to express their desires, ideas, personalities, and wishes in a way they could not before.

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What Are The Benefits Of Using Pecs

Personally, I have used PECS with many children. I find it to be especially helpful to those who are not really interested in interacting with anyone. This program teaches kiddos to initiate an interaction by handing them a picture. By using PECS, you can often take a child with no interest in other people and get them to the point where they spontaneously initiate an interaction. This can be a huge first step for children with autism or other developmental delays who were previously uninterested in communicating. Often, once they see the power of this communication, they are more open to trying other forms of communication, including speech.

Uses Of Visual Supports

Conversations About Autism: Early Communication

Visual supports can be used in a range of ways, for example:

  • as a single message, eg the person takes a yellow card from their pocket when they need to go to the toilet, or a puts purple card on the board when theyre feeling stressed

  • in combination to create a daily timetable, schedule, sequence or reward chart

  • to make a choice, eg the person can put the trampolining symbol in the afternoon area of the board

  • to illustrate asocial story or comic strip conversation.

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Reasons Why I Like The Picture Exchange Communication System

I talked in my last post about important considerations in addressing expressive vocabulary for individuals with autism. Today I want to focus on one of my favorite methods of introducing communication for students who are either nonverbal or functionally nonverbal : The Picture Exchange Communication System . PECS is a system for instructing students to communicate using pictures or symbols in place of words. Students physically exchange a picture to request an item, to comment on or describe something, and eventually to have a conversation. PECS encourages and models speech along with the picture exchange, but the picture is designed to serve in place of the words.

I cant tell you how to implement PECS extensively in a blog post, but I will give you some resources for learning more about it and talk about the particular reasons that I think its such a good fit for kids with ASD.

Its A Teaching System

Contrary to common belief, PECS is not an abbreviation for picture symbols. Although we sometimes call the pictures we use in the system PECS and the book they are kept in a PECS book, PECS as a term is NOT synonymous with pictures, schedules, or symbols used for communication. I say this because its kind of a pet peeve of mine when people use it incorrectly, but more so because PECS is the SYSTEM that is used to teach communication. The system has specific phases that are based on the science of verbal behaviora part of applied behavior analysis devoted to all types of verbal behavior including text, speech, and communication in all forms. There are specific stages of instruction and methods for teaching the initial exchange to request, to teaching students to discriminate between pictures, to travel to communicate, and later to comment and expand the functions of communication, all while modeling and encouraging speech.

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How Can Visual Supports Help Your Child With Autism

Visual supports can help children with autism find effective ways to communicate using visuals rather than auditory information. Most children with ASD are visual learners. The University of New Mexicos Center for Development and Disability says Using visual information to communicate with your child is taking advantage of how children with ASD naturally prefer to communicate and can reduce their frustration.

The Center also notes that processing language quickly can be difficult for children with ASD and is why many parents find themselves repeating the same information over and over, However, when you present information visually it can be there for as long as the child needs it. .

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84 Autism Communication Flash Cards

Many individuals who have expressive communication limitations also have difficulty understanding how communication works. Because of this, they may not be interested in trying to communicate with others. Even if these individuals can speak some words, they may not use verbal words in meaningful communication exchanges with others.

A big challenge in teaching independent expressive communication to some students is finding a way to motivate them to participate and learn. You must introduce and teach picture communication in a fun and motivating way for the student to want to participate in the session and to learn structured expressive communication skills. To make the communicative messages more understandable it can be beneficial to use matching picture symbols that exactly represent the activity.

Communicating with pictures and identifying symbolic representations may be difficult for some individuals. An experienced Speech Language Pathologist can lend needed guidance to those trying to implement picture communication. We offer instructional materials that may be beneficial to trained team members. Always keep in mind the students abilities and goals before using these or any related learning materials.

Advantages of Picture Communication

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Here Is The Hierarchy For The Visual Supports Themselves:

  • Black and White Drawing
  • I am a fan of using the written word with all visual supports because no one can predict when understanding/comprehension of the written word will begin. Reading is a gradual process that involves years of skill building so its important to provide as much exposure to the printed word as possible. Some children read before they can speak, which was the case with my daughter. I discovered this quite by chance when Julia typed a Word document on the computer at age 4 with perfect spelling.

    What Is The Best Way To Use Visual Supports

    There is a hierarchy to using visual supports. Start with matching an object to object, then object to picture, then picture to picture. You begin with using the actual object matching to the same object. Once that is mastered, then match an object to a picture. This helps the child understand that a picture can be a representation of an object. Finally, you can match a picture to a picture. I see people who do not use this progression and cant understand why the child doesnt understand a picture such as the ones generated by Boardmaker.

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    How Are The Speech And Language Problems Of Asd Treated

    If a doctor suspects a child has ASD or another developmental disability, he or she usually will refer the child to a variety of specialists, including a speech-language pathologist. This is a health professional trained to treat individuals with voice, speech, and language disorders. The speech-language pathologist will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the childs ability to communicate, and will design an appropriate treatment program. In addition, the speech-language pathologist might make a referral for a hearing test to make sure the childs hearing is normal.

    Teaching children with ASD to improve their communication skills is essential for helping them reach their full potential. There are many different approaches, but the best treatment program begins early, during the preschool years, and is tailored to the childs age and interests. It should address both the childs behavior and communication skills and offer regular reinforcement of positive actions. Most children with ASD respond well to highly structured, specialized programs. Parents or primary caregivers, as well as other family members, should be involved in the treatment program so that it becomes part of the childs daily life.

    Why Use Pecs Cards As Communication Pictures

    PECs Communication Book (Version 2)- For Students with Spec

    Impairment of communication skills is a core characteristics of autism spectrum disorders and typically developing children use words differently than children and youth with different spectrum conditions. Some of them either dont or use limited eye contact, vocalizations and gestures for communication purposes.

    Instead, to gain attention from others, autistic individuals sometimes learn and use means, mostly inappropriate, to obtain their desired object and outcomes.

    For children with underdeveloped verbal and nonverbal communication skills, learning to express wants and needs is a challenging affair. Early intervention is critical to help autistic children and youth for developing communication skills. Using PECS pictures is a well-established and supported practice and gives better results when started as early as possible.

    Any delay in the development of these skills can prove frustrating for both the child and the caregiver, many times leading to behavioral challenges. Highly effective tools like autism PECS are helpful in decreasing challenging behaviors, thus enhancing the use of appropriate functional communication.

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    The Benefits Of Visual Supports For Autism

    Looking for new ways to help children learn is a constant process and it is greatly appreciated when the response to a system is positive. The joy of seeing someone succeed after a struggle is so rewarding.

    Today I will discuss the Picture Exchange Communication System as a creative approach for supporting children with autism.

    Statistical Analyses For Focus Children And Trained Peers

    Statistical analyses using Tau revealed large effect sizes with the implementation of PECS and Pals interventions for all four children with autism. Calculated effect sizes indicated a large change between baseline and intervention for Wade , Wyatt , Zach , and Haley respectively. The combined calculated Tau across all four children with autism also indicated a large magnitude of change . Analyses for the peer partners demonstrated similar large effect sizes between baseline and intervention, with a Tau of 1.0 for Wade’s, Wyatt’s, and Zach’s peers and .98 for Haley’s peers. Combined calculated Tau for all peers indicated a large magnitude of change .

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    Does The Picture Exchange Communication System Help Autistic Children

    Research has shown positive effects from the Picture Exchange Communication System , particularly for the early stages of PECS, which teach children how to ask for things.

    More high-quality studies are needed to investigate the effects of using PECS for more complex communications and to work out which children respond best to PECS.

    Research also shows that PECS doesnt stop children from developing speech.

    How Could Pecs Cards Help A Child With Autism

    School PECS &  Communication Board

    Andy Bondy, PhD, and Lori Frost, MS, CCC-SLP developed this system specifically for people with autism. This system is based on applied behavior analysis .

    It aims to improve the communications skills of people on the autism spectrum and promotes their ability to initiate communication. Studies have shown PECS to aid in verbal development, which could improve verbal behavior.

    Many children with autism struggle with verbal communication. This system can give them a less intimidating means of communicating. Speech therapists and other professionals use this system, as it has proven effective for many years.

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    Implementing Pecs Cards To Enhance Communication With Autism

    Things to Keep in mind before starting the pecs autism communication pictures:

    • Communication Pictures or symbol cards are created after identifying and gathering an adequate number of desired reinforcers.
    • The number of reinforcers and picture cards vary for each individual. The goal here is keeping a learner engaged and motivated by providing him/her enough choices. Use simple drawings or pictures taken with a digital camera depending on the skills of the individual. Alternatively refer to out Autism PECS Blueprint for ready made 500+ autism picture PECS

    Prior to the beginning of PECS instruction, other factors are also needed to be addressed, like:

    • Training Environment: PECS must utilize it across all natural environments. The early phases of teaching with PECS pictures require the setting to be structured and consistent. As the students proficiency increases at using PECS, the learning environment gets more relaxed to promote generalization of skills.
    • Teachers/Adults: Initially, two adults are involved in training the helper and the communicative partner, who trade roles throughout PECS.
    • Autism PECS should be used across all natural settings. This assists in creating a functional communication system. Children and youth with ASD can use it to communicate with several communication partners, including same-age peers.

    How The Fitzgerald Key Groups Parts Of Speech

    • Blue: adjectives

    If the user is a child, the communication device can be incorporated into an individual education plan or a 504 plan. Everyone the child comes in contact with during the day can use it, from teachers and counselors to coaches and cafeteria staff.

    Communication boards are especially important in medical settings to ensure healthcare providers and family members are meeting the users needs.

    Autism spectrum disorder affects every child differently. Some autistic people have delayed speech. Some dont speak at all. Others have difficulty gesturing and maintaining eye contact.

    A growing body of research makes it clear that autistic children benefit when they receive early attention and intervention in language development.

    Communication boards are especially useful tools because they rely on symbols rather than words at a stage when spoken vocabulary may not yet exist.

    Another benefit of communication boards is that theyre oriented toward practical needs and social interactions.

    In other words, users arent learning words and sentences in a vacuum. Instead, theyre learning functional language words they need to meet their physical and emotional needs.

    Finally, communication boards allow room for autistic children to become more independent: They can initiate conversations without waiting for adults to direct them.

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