“PECS was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. First used at the Delaware Autistic Program, PECS 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-Canada.com)

Frequently used to teach children with autism, this system works by allowing a child to view a field of two or more pictures, from which the child is allowed to select what they want or need. The child then picks a picture and gives it to a therapist or adult in exchange for the item.

Initially, the use of PECs is taught by teaching children to request highly preferred toys and activities. As the child’s knowledge expands and he or she becomes more comfortable communicating in this way, PECs can also be used to communicate varying needs, wants and instructions. These include things like locations, people, feelings, body parts, and common qualifiers and carrier phrases, such as “I want”, “Where’s the”, “I see”, etc.

Here is a wonderful step by step guide for PECS implementation.

​Written by Melissa Roberts, RBT.