Wednesday, June 12, 2013

AAC Week: Moving Beyond Requesting

PECS: The Picture Exchange Communication System was developed by Lori Bondy and Andy Frost.  In the first phase of the six phase program, a student learns to exchange a picture of a favored item for that item.  In Phase two, they learn to extend this skill to communication partners that are across the room and to repair communication breakdowns.  In Phase three, students learn to discriminate between pictures of desired objects and pictures of objects that are not desirable.  In Phase four, students will learn sentence structure by using pictures to create simple sentences.  In Phase five, they lean to respond when given the prompt "What do you want?"  In Phase six, students learn to comment, first in response to questions and then spontaneously.

PECS... Picture Exchange Communication System.... A student gives another person a picture (or pictures) in exchange for something they want.  The concept practically implies requesting, right?  But how many children do you know that only make requests in their daily interactions?

Photos used for picture exchange.

In the 15 minutes before bedtime last night, my son (three and a half years old) used language to:
  • Request
  • Comment
  • Label
  • Question
  • Protest
  • Reject
  • Deny
  • Greet

For many students, following the PECS protocol to the letter will be important.  However, if you are using PECS as a means of facilitating (or augmenting) communication rather than as an alternative means of communication, you might want to introduce commenting and other communicative functions a little earlier!

Here are some ways to expand your use of picture exchange (or even picture supports) beyond requesting:
  • Use "My Turn/Your Turn" symbols while playing a game to facilitate social interaction.
  • Use pictures of emotions with "I am" to assist children in expressing feelings.
  • Have symbols that describe taste (e.g., yummy, yucky, sour, etc.) available during meal and snack times.  Try different foods and describe their tastes.
  • While playing with cars, have symbols available for "crash" and "oh no!"
  • During any activity, allow the child access to symbols that say "Yay!," "Oh no!,"  "Oh man!," "I like it!," "I'm having fun," "boring," etc.
  • Check out this post from CC at If Only I Had Superpowers on using picture symbols to increase use of attributes and expand sentence length.

What else are you using picture symbols to target besides requesting?

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