Helping unlock communication in central Scotland
Disclaimer: Before I start I must stress that I do encourage healthy eating but there are times when only sweeties do the trick :).
LOVELY session starting Phase 1 of PECS with a little boy who just “got it” 🙂 *proud proud faces plus applause*. Our little star currently has a handful of emerging word-approximations, effective gesture and motoric communication (taking you where he wants, moving your hand and emerging pointing). But he also has more pockets of frustration where it’s hard to figure out what he is meaning as he doesn’t have a formal system to communicate clearly.
After spending a couple of sessions getting to know the wee one at home and looking in more detail at his functional communication (how he communicates his likes, dislikes, feelings, requests, protests, delight etc), at how he understands visuals, and his very, very clear initiation of communication we decided together to give PECS picture exchanging a go to support his ability to request.
PECS stands for the Picture Exchange Communication System.** The Pyramid website says “PECS begins by teaching an individual to give a picture of a desired item 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 answer questions and to comment.”
Decoding this for the wee one I am supporting, I suggested this approach to give him a concrete/formal way to let us know what he wants (toys, activities, food and other motivators), to reduce frustration, and as a first step to building a communication system based on his strengths (visual in his case).
Today – day 1 was smarties, jelly sweets, balloons and bubbles and yes – they did the motivational trick :). We were all excited to see just how ready he is for this next step. Hooray. Plus Mum and Dad are all set for lots of practice. And just for them here are some key tips/reminders for Phase 1 (AKA How to communicate).
**Contrary to popular belief PECS is not the same as using visuals for timetables/schedules (those symbols are PCS from Mayer Johnson) – so try not call your schedules or timetables or other visuals PECS :).