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can you talk to me about PECS?

(18 Posts)
thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 18:59:38


I feel I ought to apologise because I seem to just dip in and out of this topic when I need a bit of advice, but never browse enough to get to "know" any of you or contribute at all blush
so sorry, but I find myself here again!

brief background:
suspected Aspergers/ASD of some kind. Big problems with behaviour at the moment, very aggressive. Seeing paediatrician on Thursday after being referred by GP, school backing up what we're saying and writing report to go with us.

anyway, I've found that he responds fairly well to visual aids. I only know what I've read (very briefly) online about them, and about the PECS system.
We use a visual routine board thingy in the mornings and evenings which seems to help although it's early days so we'll see what happens when novelty wears off, and I've had some success with signs I can hold up telling him to calm down when he is getting angry etc etc

so I was looking online to try and find more out about PECS (or similar systems) and I wondered if you could just explain exactly how you use them- if you use it, or if other people you know uses it?
For instance I can see how a visual timetable works...
but I saw [[ this]] (scroll down to "i can calm myself") keyring which looks like something DS1 could use... but I don't know how you use it?
does the child have it? do you give it to them? do you have it and show it to them?

Also, if you use a system like this, what things do you find most useful? I think it's mainly used with non-verbal children isn't it? which ds1 isn't, in fact he can talk the hind leg off a donkey, it's just when he gets stressed or angry that he seems unable/unwilling to listen to anything anyone says and I wondered if this might help?

silverfrog Tue 11-Jan-11 19:20:41

Firstly, I'm not a PECS expert - it didn't really work for dd1.

But, reading your post, I wondered whether social stories might also be somehting that works for your ds? google Carol Gray (I think - sorry, social stories not my area either!)

I can't access you link (am on ipod, so can't C&P easily), but I suspect it is a keyring with a bunch of symbols that one can flick thorugh?

I wouldn't startusing that until your ds is fluent in the use of the symbols elsewhere - eg make a chart for the fridge - I htink TheArsenicCupcake has a method for this where she uses an emotion volcano. her ds has to point out whereabouts on the volcano his feelings are at any one time. it is usually best to start this kind of thing of when everyone is calm, as easier to follow and undertand.

so, make the chart, mke some easily differentiated symbols - happy, sad, angry etc. and put a scale on the chart as to where each emotion fits. and TALK lots about it. talk about your feelings as you do every little thing. get your ds talking about his feelings.

if he can begin to recognise them, and some of the warning signs/feeligns when he is getting frustrated, he will then be able to signal this to others.

apologies if none of this is rleevant - I have just realised I've waffled on and not actually seen your link blush

StartingAfresh Tue 11-Jan-11 19:32:11

Hi Thisis,

Tis Star here.

A couple of questions first:

Can/does your ds ask for things he wants.

If he sees a packet of biscuit and he wants one, how do you know? What communication goes on? What do you do? What does he do? How much interpreting do you do for him and if he was in the same situation with a stranger would they have a clue what he was going on about?

These are important questions to ask before considering whether PECS is appropriate.

My DS was verbal when we started PECS but I went on the 2 day pyramid training (highly recommend) anyway. However, I had slightly different reasons from the majority for going on it, i.e. I was trying to learn about it in order to be educated enough to refuse it for ds, and to gain some hands on experience of ABA (which PECS is in an extremly concrete and tangable way).

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 19:39:45

thank you, yes whole post helpful!

we do have a couple of social stories, and they were next on my list of things to look up! will def google carol gray, tho i think i might have a go at making some so that they're really specific to him and the situations he struggles with

not sure what happened with my link confused i'm normally fine with thme! but yes, it's a keyring type thing.
volcano idea sounds good though as it's something we can have displayed and can point at even if he is refusing to look closely lol

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 19:43:36

hi star!

he can request things just fine! no problems at all with his speech and understanding. so, to use your example he will just say "can i have a biscuit" smile

I guess I am looking to use PECS just as a kind of visual prompt for those situations he struggles in rather than as an alternative way of communication, if that makes sense?

so, I've seen the routine boards, which is basically what I've made for him at home, with pictures of himself getting dressed, brushing teeth, getting school stuff etc etc.

he gets very stressed in the mornings and when we tell him to get dressed he simply refuses to, he refuses to let us help him, and eventually has a massive tantrum.
the visual timetable seems to work because we can say to him "this is what you need to do" and he is ok because he is in control of it i think?

StartingAfresh Tue 11-Jan-11 19:50:51

Does he say 'can I have a biscuit' to the air, or does he say it to you?

Does he say 'mummy, can I have a biscuit?'

Will he tap your arm?

PECS is good for the 'addressing' bit, but you can equally give him his 'want' token. A small object that he has to give to someone to activate them to carry out his request iyswim.

That can help him understand that you can't just announce your wants, you have to get the attention of 'someone'.

PECS is a communication 'system'. It doesn't sound like you need it really. Visual timetables and emotion cards is not PECS.

Marne Tue 11-Jan-11 19:52:37

PEC'S is used as a communication aid, it is mostly used for non-verbal children but can be used for verbal. Dd2 started using PEC'S when she was 2.5 and was non-verbal, she still uses it at school now (she's 4.9) for when she is too stressed/anxious to talk or if someone can't understand what she is saying (her speech isn't great). You can also use the PEC'S symbols to create visual routines, instructions, to warn a child what will happen next and to back up actions such as 'stop', 'no' ect ..

It sounds like you are doing a great job with the routine boards, we use them for my older dd who has Aspergers even though she is very verbal when given too much information verbally she tends to panic so having it in front of her using pictures deffently helps and saves me nagging her.

silverfrog Tue 11-Jan-11 19:55:57

agree with star, that it seems not so much PECS that you need, as a communiation system, ut rather a colection of symbols (whether PECS, Widgit, photos or other) that you can use in a visual support type way.

does your ds need it for organisation purposes as well, or mre for emotional literacy situations?

making up symbol lists of things that need doing is a grat way to help him stay organised if he needs it - eg a list in his schoolbag for what he needs ot take each day/bring home each day, so that he gets support at times of stress.

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 20:09:34

star he certainly can address his requests to me, though whether or not he does so depends on his mood! but yes, he is capable of doing so

I saw the routine boards marketed as part of the PECS system hence me referring to it as that, but you're right that it isn't the "exchange communication" side of it I need, so it isn't PECS I need but simply visual aids/timetables. I think I had googled for PECS after seeing this specific thing I was looking for (the routine boards) and figured it was easier to buy the stuff rather than making my own!

"It sounds like you are doing a great job with the routine boards, we use them for my older dd who has Aspergers even though she is very verbal when given too much information verbally she tends to panic so having it in front of her using pictures deffently helps and saves me naggin"

yes! that is exactly the problem we have with ds1. it's like he just gets overloaded if we tell him too much, so the pictures for morning/evening routine make it much simpler for him to know what needs doing, and to do it

silverfrog organisational things, not yet. he's not quite 6, and we tend to get his stuff ready for him in the morning anyway although we do list it off so he gets used to hearing all the things we take to school in the mornings.
saying that, I think it would help in the classroom because he does tend to forget where to put his homework/reading book etc. I will mention that to his teacher perhaps

it's more of a way for us to get through to him when he is getting agitated and on the verge of a big meltdown. we find at those times he just won't/can't listen to us or take in what we are saying so it's really hard to calm him down hence wondering if the "i can calm myself down" set would be of use... but I do agree with your initial post that actually a wall-mounted thing would be of more use to us in that respect

silverfrog Tue 11-Jan-11 20:15:16

erm, I would start with the organisational lists, tbh.

dd1 is 6.6, and severely ASD. she:

packs her own lunch each day, gets together her swimming kit, knows what she needs each day (ie horse riding MOnday, swimming on tuesday, gymnastics on Wednesday, etc)

she puts her clothes away, etc.

it is all good organisational stuff, and helps with memory and sequencing. (and you get to laminate lots of cards grin - laminating gets obsessional after a while!)

silverfrog Tue 11-Jan-11 20:18:06

oh, I only sya start wiht the organisation stuff, because the more practise he can have with routine boards the better. and generalising them across situations can also be more useful than using them in one setting alone (ie school)

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 20:24:12

<goes to look at laminators>

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 20:25:00

hang on... she puts her clothes away???? do you think that this may work if I use it with DP too??? grin

silverfrog Tue 11-Jan-11 20:29:31

weeeeelllll, I fold them all, she names them, and takes them upstairs (one at a time - exercise to wear her out grin), and chucks them on he bed.

then, come bedtime, e go through them again, and she puts them (roughly) where htey shuld go.

before dd2 got in on the act (4, probably NT, and mischievous as they come), she did used to put them away ok... <sigh> since when was ASD supposed ot be easier than NT?! grin

StartingAfresh Tue 11-Jan-11 20:29:48


thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 20:37:08

yeah that would be an improvement on what DP currently does! lol

my whole house is going to be covered in visual timetables!

until eventually i don't have to do aaaaaaaaanything at all but point to various bits of wall

silverfrog Tue 11-Jan-11 20:39:13

funny you should say that, but I have adopted her system, as it seems to work fo rher.

so, I bung piles of laundry on relevant beds, and it's up to the people concerned what they do with them grin

<and if I'm liucky, dh puts my stuff away while he does his...>

honestly once you start with the visual strips your hous will be overrun grin

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Jan-11 20:56:32

still, i won't need to bother decorating as you won't be able to see the walls grin

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