Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS for short, was introduced to Lennon this January and I’m excited to report all his progress.

As you know, Lennon has no words and no signs. He doesn’t understand pointing yet and his only real means of communication is crying or taking my hand and taking me somewhere.

PECS is complicated and it’s implementation seemingly complex (at least to start), but we are making great strides.

I made Lennon a robust deck of real pictures – things he enjoys or might request on any given day. And I made him a secondary deck – the main purpose of this will be to help him with discrimination and matching. Also, plenty of blank cards to be used temporarily as he learns the system.

PECS avoidance when the work gets too hard.

Step 1 (for us – as I’m sure the process is different for everyone):

Person A will be holding a preferred item. If Lennon notices the item and decides he wants it Person B will guide Lennon’s hand to the blank card and bring it to Person A to trade for the preferred item.

Success – Lennon has learned that the card is a means for exchange and follows thru with assistance!

Step 2:

Person A will be holding a preferred item. If Lennon notices the item and decides he wants it he will pick up the blank card that Person B discreetly sets next to him and trade Person A for the item. This step does not require guidance.

Success – Lennon has learned that the card is a means for exchange and will trade for an item independently!

Step 3:

Same as Step 2, but in this scenario Person B places the blank card at further distances from Lennon. Person B may need to guide Lennon to the card to initially understand, but eventually Lennon will locate the card independently and bring it to Person A for trade.

Success – Lennon will seek out the blank card and walk it over to the person with his preferred item for trade!

In each scenario the adult helpers, typical mom and his RBT, will switch roles throughout the day so that Lennon is able to generalize this as a means to request an item.

We are currently working on what I will call Step 4.

At this point in time the blank card is now velcroed to the front cover of a small binder. Lennon must detach the card for trade. We started this process today! He is already picking it up, but will probably take a week or so to master before we move on.

In the meantime, his RBT is running a variety of other programs with the rest of his deck, all that will benefit his ability to utilize PECS. They work on:

Give Me: Where she will set out a card with a picture (let’s say a cup). His RBT will say, “Give me cup,” and put her hand out. Lennon will hopefully pick up the card and give it to her. He’s close, but hasn’t quite mastered this yet. Next steps with be placing two cards out, a blank card and the card with the picture and requesting the item on the picture. After that it would be two picture cards and requesting one of the items.

Match: Lennon’s RBT will place three picture cards from his deck on the table. She will then hand him a fourth card and say, “Match!” He would identify which card already on the table matches what is in his hand and place it with it. He is doing AMAZING with this. Next step will probably be to increase the field from three to four cards, but I’m really not sure. I imagine it’s coming soon!

Watch Lennon kick some serious matching butt!

If he keeps this up, we are going to have a system in place to communicate with Lennon and I cannot begin to express how seriously wonderful this will be.

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