Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PECS: Organizing your Reinforcers

When I first started out, perhaps like many new SLPs, I was using picture symbols for just about everything.  I created communication books for lots of kids.  I taught the kids what to do with the book...without actually teaching them the foundations needed to use the book.

A few years ago, I found myself working in a classroom of students with severe special needs.  We all received a wonderful training from the district Assistive Technology specialist.  How many of you use the PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) by Lori Frost and Andy Bondy?




There is a ton of information on the web about PECS and the Six Phases of PECS.  If you're not familiar with PECS, this page gives you a great rundown of the six phases.  Today I'm going to give you a couple of tips on organizing reinforcers.

You probably are aware of the basic concepts of "Picture Exchange" - a student gives a picture in exchange for a desired object.  Bondy and Frost first suggest that you find reinforcers (motivating toys/objects specific to each child).  This may not be shocking, but in my reinforcer assessment, I found that most of the students in the class had similar "likes."  I found myself using the same toys:  pop-tubes, wind-up toys, books, squishy balls, vehicles, etc.

For easy portability, here's what I did with my reinforcers.  I got a snap-top tote (this is the shoe-box size):


Filled it with my reinforcers:


And attached the picture symbols to the lid of the box with Velcro:


I made two boxes with different toys/activities so I could rotate the boxes and decrease boredom (for myself and the kids).  I used a mix of Mayer Johnson PCS, Pics for PECS, and photographs.  Basically, I took photographs for objects for which I couldn't find a good picture symbol.

Now you're ready to start working on Phase 1, Step 1 (Fully Assisted Exchange)!  What are your thoughts on this?  Would you like more information on the PECS method? If there is interest, I can start a PECS series.


13 comments :

  1. I would love to see your suggestions and ideas on PECS. I use it with one of my students now. I love how you used the lid of the box for the icons. Great idea! :)

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  2. Yes!! I would love a series on PECS. I am just beginning to use this with a student and need all the help I can get! :) Thank you!!

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    1. You're welcome! I'll aim to have part 2 ready for next week! :)

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  3. I haven't used PECs in several years, but need to this year . So I would love more ideas. Thx

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  4. I have a file box full of my reinforcers. And I use my PECS binder with them. I just realized last week I need to try rotating few things out of the box and replace with some novel items (not that I've done it yet!).

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    1. That was my issue for a while (rotating things out)...Hence the 2 boxes now! I only have to rotate the boxes, not the items! :)

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  5. More ideas would be great! Thank you.

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  6. Yes! Love the pics on the lid!! I would like to hear your ideas Carrie. Starting Phase II. I need ideas on reinforcers that don't cost a lot of money. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you! I'll be working on part 2 for next week (which will be Phase I). Ideas for cheap reinforcers: My kids like bubbles, board books, wind-up toys, mirrors (doesn't sound reinforcing, but they love looking at themselves!), small cars, squishy balls, koosh balls, etc. I even use an old cell phone! Also, check the stocking-stuffer sections of stores like Target and Wal-Mart...I bet you'll find some really cute reinforcers!

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  7. I also have my own Pecs book which I have used for years and years. I have pecs in there for all of my favorite activities: Mr. Potato head, play dough (colors, play dough scissors, cookie cutters, verbs "squeeze, pull, roll, etc.", farm animals to go with my farm play, jungle animals to go with my jungle play, food pecs to go with my fake food play, various toys within my therapy room (cars, bubbles, stacking rings, shape sorter,puzzle, books, ball, parachute, baby dolls, bottles, doll house (and furniture), sensory toys/fidgets, etc., VERBS...LOTS of gross motor verbs for gross motor games and play...AND OF COURSE some of the most important PECS...SOCIAL COMMENTS (your/my turn, good job, way to go!, thank you , your welcome, etc.). Remember to check out the already made themed pictures on speakingofspeech.com AND Boardmaker Share!

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