Professional Development

Introduction to the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) & Visual Supports for Nonverbal Students *

Presented by SPG Clinical Supervisors (3 hrs)

This presentation will introduce how the Picture Exchange System (PECS) can develop initiation of communication. It will also demonstrate how to design effective visual supports for language development. PECS is typically used as a mode of communication for children with autism or other communicative, cognitive and physical difficulties. It is important that Speech/Language Pathologists become familiar with PECS as an evidence-based communication mode. PECS is straightforward and cost effective to implement.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has given PECS the highest possible rating for the quality of evidence supporting it as an intervention. There is evidence that most students easily learn PECS, with its primary benefit being a means for communication by children and adults who have little or no speech due to autism or other communicative, cognitive and physical difficulties. Verbal prompts are not used, thus building immediate initiation and avoiding prompt dependency. Research suggests that PECS has additional positive benefits, including improvement of social communication skills and decreased problem behaviors in individuals with developmental disabilities.

Participants will be introduced to the six phases of the PECS Protocol, from communicative intent to spontaneous comments. There will be time for hands-on demonstrations in the use of visual supports.