What if PECS doesn’t work for a child?


A significant number of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have limited verbal communication skills. For many, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) provides them with an effective means of communication. This involves the child using a small picture to represent words and objects. In its most basic implementation, the child who wants something hands a picture of that something to the adult, and receives the actual item in return. At a more advanced level, the child can put several pictures together to express ideas, desires, and questions in short phrases or full sentences.

But some children with ASD have difficulty understanding that a picture represents an actual object. It seems they have difficulty translating a 2-dimensional picture into a 3-dimensional object. A research group at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is in the final year of a four-year grant to develop instructional technology to help these children make the connection between pictures and real objects. You can read a short description here, and the article contains a link to a video that shows some of what they are doing.

Russell J. Bonanno, M.Ed.

TAP Program Manager

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