communication system using pictures

What Is the Picture Exchange Communication System?

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Did you know that approximately 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States?

For individuals with ASD who struggle with communication, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) offers a unique and effective way to express their needs and wants.

But what exactly is PECS and how does it work?

In this discussion, we will explore the basics of PECS, its benefits, and how it can be implemented in daily life.

So, if you've ever wondered how individuals with ASD can communicate using pictures, keep reading to discover the power of PECS.

Key Takeaways

  • PECS is a visual aids communication method for individuals with communication difficulties
  • It uses pictures or symbols to represent desired objects, actions, or requests
  • PECS allows effective communication even for individuals with limited verbal skills
  • PECS has proven to be effective in improving communication skills and reducing frustration

The Basics of PECS

In order to understand the fundamentals of PECS, it's important to familiarize yourself with the Picture Exchange Communication System.

PECS is a visual aids communication method designed for individuals with communication difficulties, such as those with autism spectrum disorder.

This system uses a series of pictures or symbols to represent desired objects, actions, or requests.

The individual is taught to exchange these pictures with a communication partner in order to express their needs and desires.

By using visual aids, PECS allows individuals to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively, even if they've limited verbal skills.

This method has proven to be effective in improving communication skills and reducing frustration in individuals who struggle with traditional speech.

How PECS Works

To understand how PECS works, it is essential to grasp the mechanics of this visual aids communication method for individuals with communication difficulties, such as autism spectrum disorder. PECS uses a series of teaching strategies and communication tools to help individuals with limited speech or language skills to effectively communicate their needs and desires. The process involves six phases, starting with simple requesting and gradually progressing to more complex communication functions. Here is an example of how PECS works:

Phase Description
Phase 1 Learner exchanges a single picture card with a communication partner to request an item.
Phase 2 Learner learns to travel to the communication partner and deliver the picture card.
Phase 3 Learner learns to discriminate between different picture cards and request specific items.
Phase 4 Learner learns to use sentence strips to construct longer and more detailed requests.
Phase 5 Learner learns to respond to questions and participate in conversation using picture cards.

Benefits of Using PECS

Using PECS offers a range of benefits for individuals with communication difficulties, such as autism spectrum disorder. Here are some advantages and the effectiveness of using PECS:

  • Improved Communication Skills

PECS helps individuals develop their communication skills by providing a structured and visual method of communication. It allows individuals to express their needs, wants, and thoughts effectively, promoting independence and reducing frustration.

  • Enhanced Social Interaction

PECS encourages social interaction as it enables individuals to initiate and engage in conversations with others. It facilitates peer interactions and fosters the development of positive relationships with peers and caregivers.

PECS has been proven to be effective in promoting communication and social skills. Research studies have shown its effectiveness in improving communication outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other communication difficulties. By using PECS, individuals can experience improved communication, increased social interaction, and enhanced overall quality of life.

Implementing PECS in Daily Life

When implementing PECS in daily life, individuals with communication difficulties can effectively utilize visual communication strategies. This is especially useful for non-verbal children who struggle to express themselves verbally.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) provides a structured and systematic way for these children to communicate their needs, wants, and thoughts using pictures. By incorporating PECS into the school curriculum, teachers can create an inclusive and supportive learning environment. They can teach students how to use PECS, allowing them to participate in classroom activities and communicate with their peers and teachers.

PECS can also be used outside of the classroom, such as at home or in community settings, to enhance communication skills and foster independence.

Tips for Success With PECS

Implementing PECS in daily life can be enhanced by following these tips for success:

  • Use clear and consistent visuals: Ensure that the pictures used in the PECS system are easy to understand and relate to the desired communication.
  • Provide ample opportunities for practice: Encourage the individual to use the PECS system regularly in different situations to reinforce their understanding and fluency.
  • Implement a visual schedule: Create a visual schedule for daily activities, using PECS symbols, to provide structure and predictability.
  • Model the use of PECS: Show the individual how to use the PECS system by modeling the desired communication yourself.
  • Address any challenges promptly: If the individual is facing difficulties using the PECS system, troubleshoot the issue by identifying the problem and adapting strategies accordingly.
  • Maintain consistency: Ensure that everyone involved in the individual's life, including caregivers and educators, is consistent in using the PECS system to maximize its effectiveness.


In conclusion, the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a powerful tool that facilitates effective communication for individuals with communication difficulties. By using visual symbols, PECS enables individuals to express their needs, wants, and thoughts, promoting independence and social interaction.

With its numerous benefits and easy implementation in daily life, PECS proves to be a valuable resource for individuals and their caregivers. Start implementing PECS today and unlock the potential for improved communication and connection.


  • eSoft Skills Team

    The eSoft Editorial Team, a blend of experienced professionals, leaders, and academics, specializes in soft skills, leadership, management, and personal and professional development. Committed to delivering thoroughly researched, high-quality, and reliable content, they abide by strict editorial guidelines ensuring accuracy and currency. Each article crafted is not merely informative but serves as a catalyst for growth, empowering individuals and organizations. As enablers, their trusted insights shape the leaders and organizations of tomorrow.

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