PECS® is a unique alternative/augmentative communication system developed in the USA in 1985 by Andy Bondy, PhD, and Lori Frost, MS, CCC-SLP. PECS was first implemented with pre-school students diagnosed with autism at the Delaware Autism Program. Since then, PECS has successfully been implemented worldwide with thousands of learners of all ages who have various cognitive, physical and communication challenges.

The PECS® teaching protocol is based on B.F. Skinner’s book, Verbal Behavior, and broad spectrum applied behaviour analysis. Specific prompting and reinforcement strategies that will lead to independent communication are used throughout the protocol. The protocol also includes systematic error correction procedures to promote learning if an error occurs. Verbal prompts are not used, thus building immediate initiation and avoiding prompt dependency.

PECS® consists of six phases and begins by teaching an individual to give a single picture of a desired item or action to a “communicative partner” who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to use modifiers, answer questions and comment.

The primary goal of PECS® is to teach functional communication. Research has shown that some learners using PECS® also develop speech. Others may transition to a speech generating device (SGD). The body of research supporting the effectiveness of PECS® as an evidence-based practice is substantial and continues to expand, with more than 150 research articles from all over the world.

Phase 1: How to Communicate

Individuals learn to exchange single pictures for items or activities they really want.

Phase 2: Distance and Persistence

Still using single pictures, individuals learn to generalise this new skill by using it in different places, with different people and across distances. They are also taught to be more persistent communicators.

Phase 3: Picture Discrimination

Individuals learn to select from two or more pictures to ask for their favorite things. These are placed in a PECS Communication Book—a ringed binder with self-adhesive hook fastener strips where pictures are stored and easily removed for communication.

Phase 4: Sentence Structure

Individuals learn to construct simple sentences on a detachable Sentence Strip using an “I want” picture followed by a picture of the item being requested.

Phase 5: Responsive Requesting

Individuals learn to use PECS to answer questions such as “What do you want?”

Phase 6: Commenting

Individuals are taught to comment in response to questions such as, “What do you see?”, “What do you hear?” and “What is it?” They learn to make up sentences starting with “I see”, “I hear”, “I feel”, “It is a”, etc.

  • 15q Deletion Syndrome
  • 18q Deletion Syndrome
  • Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum
  • Aicardi Syndrome
  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Aphasia
  • Apert Syndrome
  • apraxia/dyspraxia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Autism
  • Brain anomaly
  • Brain tumor
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • CHARGE Syndrome
  • Cleft lip and/or palate
  • Cochlear implant
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS)
  • Cri du Chat Syndrome
  • Dandy-Walker Syndrome
  • DiGeorge Syndrome (velo cardio facial syndrome/22q11.2 deletion)
  • Dubowitz Syndrome
  • Deaf/hearing impaired
  • Developmental delay
  • Down syndrome
  • English as a 2nd language (ESL)
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Isodicentric 15/idic 15
  • Kabuki Syndrome
  • Microcephaly
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Noonan Syndrome
  • Opitz Syndrome
  • Partial Trisomy, 4P
  • Phelan-McDermid (22q13 Deletion) Syndrome
  • Seizure disorder/epilepsy
  • Selective Mutism
  • Septo-optic dysplasia
  • Speech/language delay
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Traumatic/acquired brain injury
  • Treacher-Collins Syndrome
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC)
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Unilateral polymicrogyria
  • Van Lohuizen Syndrome
  • Williams Syndrome
  • Wolf Hirschorn Syndrome

Content on this page suppled by PECS United Kingdom / Pyramid Educational Consultants Ltd.