Speech therapist, Melinda Bumgardner Schatz MA CCC-SLP, completed a continuing education course this month about the widely used Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).
PECS was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. It has received worldwide recognition for focusing on the initiation component of communication. PECS does not require complex or expensive materials. It was created with families, educators, and resident care providers in mind, so is readily used in a range of settings. PECS begins by teaching an individual to give a picture of a desired item to a ‚Äúcommunicative partner”, who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to answer questions and to comment.
PECS has been successful with individuals of all ages demonstrating a variety of communicative, cognitive and physical difficulties. Some learners using PECS also develop speech. Others may transition to a voice output system. The body of research supporting the effectiveness of PECS continues to expand, with research from countries around the world.
Read more about PECS on their website.
Melinda was even pleased with the course than she expected and shares:
“While I have used pictures as communication tools and visual aids for a long time in my speech therapy sessions, the PECS training was very helpful. PECS is a very structured, research driven approach to building functional communication. A big focus of the program is initiating communication, a skill that children with autism spectrum disorder and other communication difficulties often struggle to acquire. I am excited to implement the PECS approach with some of the children I work with to help them become functional communicators.”
The Child and Family Development team of 9 speech therapists offers free phone intakes and screens.