The Picture Exchange Communication System The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) was developed in 1985 to help children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), who either do not speak or do so with limited effectiveness, to rapidly acquire functional communication skills. Although originally developed for young children with ASD, the system has been used successfully ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2002
The Picture Exchange Communication System
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lori Frost
    Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc., Newark, DE
  • Editor’s Note/Disclosure of Proprietary Interest: Please be advised that the author of the next paper has a financial interest in the program she describes. Publication of this paper does not constitute an endorsement by ASHA or by any Special Interest Division.
    Editor’s Note/Disclosure of Proprietary Interest: Please be advised that the author of the next paper has a financial interest in the program she describes. Publication of this paper does not constitute an endorsement by ASHA or by any Special Interest Division.×
  • Author’s Note: Following this article is a glossary of terms. Each term is boldfaced the first time it appears in text.
    Author’s Note: Following this article is a glossary of terms. Each term is boldfaced the first time it appears in text.×
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Articles
Article   |   June 01, 2002
The Picture Exchange Communication System
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, June 2002, Vol. 12, 13-15. doi:10.1044/nnsld12.2.13
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, June 2002, Vol. 12, 13-15. doi:10.1044/nnsld12.2.13
The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) was developed in 1985 to help children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), who either do not speak or do so with limited effectiveness, to rapidly acquire functional communication skills. Although originally developed for young children with ASD, the system has been used successfully with children and adults with a wide array of communication and developmental difficulties.
A principal advantage of PECS is its integration of theoretical and practical perspectives from the fields of applied behavior analysis and speech-language pathology. Several techniques developed within applied behavior analysis are used as the fundamental teaching strategies. For example, to implement PECS, we must first identify powerful rein-forcers for which a child will be motivated to communicate. We use a variety of prompting, shaping, and fading techniques within both structured and incidental formats to gradually improve and modify how children use the system. From a communication perspective, the initial phases of the system emphasize the importance of the skills that children who are typically developing learn before acquiring their first spoken words. We teach the children to approach a communicative partner from the beginning of training so that they spontaneously communicate.
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