What is Picture Education Communication System (PECS)?

Picture education communication system, also known as more simply PECS, is an education system designed to help children of various ages. Teachers, therapists and others working with children use the system as a way to get responses from those who have problems communicating and those who cannot communicate verbally. PECS uses six different stages that help children learn how to respond to direct questions and make comments to their teachers and counselors.

Stages of PECS

PECS has six stages that parents and others working with children can use. The first stage teaches students how to communicate via images found on the device itself. During the second stage, they learn how to ask questions or make comments to others without the need for that individual to make any comments. Later stages teach children how to use different symbols and images to get what they want and how to press different buttons to put together sentences and phrases. A picture education communication system can also teach a child how to respond to questions asked by others and how to express their feelings.

How Does PECS Work?

These systems look like small devices that children can hold in their hands. The device features images on different buttons that correspond to different words. Children learn how to press those buttons to communicate with others. Most devices have a speaker attached to one side that produces words and phrases based on the buttons that the child pressed. Therapists often start out slowly and show children how they can receive rewards for simply pressing a specific button on the device before showing them how they can put words together to form sentences and how they can talk about their thoughts and feelings with the machine.

Who Can Use the System?

Most of the children using these systems have autism. Nonverbal autistic children cannot or do not speak and have a difficult time expressing how they feel or communicating with others. According to Pyramid Educational Consultants, these machines are also suitable for those who have physical impairments that prevent them from communicating with loved ones and for those who have cognitive disabilities too. The company found that some children who use these machines will eventually learn how to use their own voices as they develop strong speaking skills. Others can use the devices as a replacement for their own voices.

Use in the Field

There are a few different ways in which educators can use a picture education communication system in the field. The first is in the special education classroom of a public or private school. Teachers working in those schools can use the devices to cut down on frustrations among students and to control the environment. Therapists and counselors who work with children with autism and other cognitive issues can also use these systems in private homes. Many parents also invest in a PECS system as a way to communicate with their own children and to help their children talk with others.

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Children diagnosed with autism and similar conditions often have a difficult time speaking with others and even being around others. A picture education communication system, also known as PECS, allows those children to communicate with others via buttons on the device that correspond with objects, emotions and simple words.