P.E.C.S. is a technique that I learned about while planning my lesson for the final part of my interview for a Special Education teaching position.
*Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) that is typically used as an aid for children with autism.
PECS is a great tool for helping non-verbal children (such as those with autism) communicate without words. PECS allows the child to make choices and communicate needs. When children can communicate and express their needs, often behaviors can be minimalzed and the child becomes much happier.
PECS can be used in several ways to aid communication. PECS are typically introduced using pictures of desired objects (such as food or toys). When the child wants one of these items, he gives the picture to a communication partner such as a parent, therapist, caregiver or another child. The communication partner then hands the child the food or toy, thus reinforcing communication. Ultimately, the pictures can be replaced with words and sentence strips (e.g. I want cookies).
Many people believe that PECS can also be used to create visual schedules for children. This is however factually incorrect. The term PECS does not refer to the individual pictures or icons. PECS is the exchange of the icon as a form of communication, not the picture itself. The same icons that are used for PECS are frequently used for creating visual schedules, but this is not PECS, it is simply using icons to create a visual schedule.
The introduction of PECS can be a long and drawn out process taking months to complete. For a family facing a lifetime with a non-verbal child who is not grasping sign language either, these can definitely be a relief for the lack of communication.
Here’s where you can find out more: http://www.pecs.com/WhatsPECS.htm
* Wikipedia definition