First Phase of the Picture Exchange Communication System

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  • July 16, 2011
  • by Christine
  • communication, PECS, Picture Exchange Communication System,
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The first phase of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is for the nonverbal child or adult to learn how to communicate using PECS. What you want to do is to teach him how to spontaneously ask for the things he wants using the pictures that you have laid out before him.

To achieve this goal, you need to first identify the items that he likes. Start with his favorite food or toys. What is his most favorite food or toy? What does he like to eat all the time or to play with all the time? Identifying these items are very important because you need to select items that he will want to ask for.

Keep in mind that the PECS program does not use any verbal prompts. The teacher or parent is discouraged from asking the child what he wants and is discouraged from giving any type of verbal prompts. This is because the goal is for the nonverbal child or adult to initiate the conversation. He has to start the conversation and he has to be the one to approach you. So, if you happen to select picture choices which he is not interested in, there is a big possibility that he may not want to communicate with you.

It usually requires two adults to teach the nonverbal child or adult to ask for what he wants. The first adult is assigned as the person with whom the child exchanges the picture with while the second adult assists the child in handing the picture to the first adult. After the picture choices have been laid out before the child, the second adult stays beside the child and waits for him to get the picture he prefers. Once the child picks up the picture, the second adult guides him in bringing the picture to the first adult. Upon receiving the picture, the first adult then immediately gives the child what he wants. If the child brought him a picture of a toy car, the first adult must immediately reward this behavior by giving the child the toy car that he wants. The second adult should stop assisting the child once the child is able to independently ask for what he wants using the pictures given to him.

You have achieved your goal once the nonverbal child is able to seek you out and give you what he wants.

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