Picture Exchange Communication SystemCommunication by any means is an important aspect
of working with an autistic child.
One such communication system is called PECS or
Picture Exchange Communication System.
PECS provides a functional way for an autistic
child to communicate with those around him or her.
PECS is a good system to use when an autistic
child is completely nonverbal or who speaks with
PECS is an inexpensive card system that involves
cards on which pictures or sentences are placed
that have meaning to the child and can
communicate for the child.
Once learned, every exchange in PECS is
intentional by the child and is readily
understood by the child and the adult.
Once a card is given, the needs of the child are
quickly understood and the need is met.
The communication is initiated by the child so
that there are no memorization skills required.
The child is reinforced to use the system by
having their needs met immediately.
Parents can draw their own PECS cards that
become meaningful to both the child and the
adults around them.
The picture can be elaborate or just be a
symbol that the child attaches meaning to.
If the child is ready to learn the PECS system,
they are first enticed with something they want
and are taught the picture or symbolization
that goes with it.
The vocabulary is gradually increased so that
many pictures are available in the communication
One of the values of this system is that it’s
not exactly sign language so that anyone who
can interpret a simple picture can learn what
it takes to help the child get his or her
It can be used at home as well as in school.
One of the disadvantages is that, while it
is a portable system, the cards can get
weighty if the child learns a lot of different
pictures or symbols and the communication
can become slower as a result.