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PECS or Makaton

(17 Posts)
adrianna1 Sat 22-Mar-14 20:04:58


I have a four year old son who has a severe delay in speech..but mainly uses his own made-up gestures to communicate.

Anyway, sometime last week, we met up with our lovely speech therapist for my son's session.

When we saw her, she mentioned if we could start teaching my son PECS. In my head, I was like..."!" grin.

I have nothing against PECS, but in my son's case I'm afraid that he will get very dependant on using PECS ( which I know he will) and his non- verbal communication skills i.e. pointing... would decrees.

I told the therapist this, she did look a bit disappointed...but then told me she can't force me to do anything. However, I did mention that my son would love to learn Makaton properly. He loves copying actions like gestures, body movements and enjoys signing along with Mr tumble. So, I've been placed on a Makaton course.

So what are the advantages or disadvantages for a child to use PECS or Makaton.


MooMummyMoo Sat 22-Mar-14 20:17:37

For us so far pecs hasn't worked as we needed two adults to show my dd what to do and most of the time there is only me here, plus she just mouthed the cards (but she is GDD and SLD).

However makaton has been a success for us. She understands the signs and can sign maybe 5 or 6 back (so far, but increasing all the time).

We had a similar thing that our SALT pushed the pecs hit I really pushed for the makaton. For me, I wondered about how she could use pecs l

MooMummyMoo Sat 22-Mar-14 20:17:59

Oops... she could use pecs l

MooMummyMoo Sat 22-Mar-14 20:20:27

Urghh!!! she could use pecs long term as you can't carry around a book of every symbol she might ever need. So makaton seemed more adaptable i suppose for the long term.

I am no expert, but that was my experience/rationale.

Hope that helps.

adrianna1 Sat 22-Mar-14 20:38:10

Hi mooMummymoo

Thanks for replying. Yes I agree with your point. I personally would rather spend the time using my son's skills to aid his communication...

adrianna1 Sun 23-Mar-14 14:07:22

bump smile

ouryve Sun 23-Mar-14 16:52:21

DS2 only started to get it with PECS about a year ago, just before he turned 7. It's been brilliant for him, though. Once he took to it, he took to it quickly and it has the advantage that he can take a card to other children in his class (he's in mainstream) and it's not hard for them to learn what it means.

We've been trying to teach him makaton, but he still only has a handful of signs and he doesn't use them consistently. His speech is better than his signing, in fact.

ouryve Sun 23-Mar-14 21:04:31

And just another thought and I'm sure that moondog can elaborate on this, but, taught properly, the skills taught to use PECS are transferable throughout the whole of your child's early education. DS2 has learnt early reading and maths skills using the same techniques used to teach him how to match objects to pictures. Children who struggle with producing speech often struggle to make sense of phonics, so whole word recognition provides a good start.

The skills he has learnt are transferable to an electronic communication device which will give him much more independence if he never masters spoken language than what is quite a limited signed language that not many people are able to understand. At his current rate of learning, I expect him to be able to move beyond pictures and use the written word to communicate.

So, please don't underestimate PECS as waving a few picture cards about and not making the best of the abilities your child does have.

Ineedmorepatience Sun 23-Mar-14 22:19:43

Well said ouryve, I read this thread yesterday but didnt feel qualified to answer.

My friend's LO uses pecs she has Asd plus a severe language disorder. She is brilliant with them and can already "Read" sentences using her symbols. he speech is very unclear but it is clear what she is doing . She also uses many timelines throughout the day all with PECS symbols on them.
And she is seeing the written word on every symbol everytime she uses them.

Good luck what ever you decide.

adrianna1 Sun 23-Mar-14 22:21:53

Hi Guys

Thanks for replying.

I'll probably focus on the Makaton for now, but I will do a lot of research on PECS and see how my son takes to it, if I teach it to him.

adrianna1 Sun 23-Mar-14 22:24:18

@Ineedmorepatience... are there different ways to using PECS?

- Because I don't mind PECS being used as a visual thing i.e. timetables etc.

But my speech therapist was suggesting, that instead of my son pointing to items, he should use a card instead. So basically if my child points and I tell him "No use the cards". I was worried that he would lose his pointing and gesturing skills.

ouryve Sun 23-Mar-14 23:09:11

DS2 still points to items at home. Some things are put away, though (or else they'd be all over the floor) and school is set out differently to home. The nods and gestures he uses with me at home aren't universally understood by the relative strangers at school.

And taught properly, by a SALT, PECS has several stages to it, building in complexity, starting from simple requests, then drawing in more people, then making more complex and more explicit requests, involving some sentence structure.

There's no reason why you can't teach Makaton alongside. DS2 uses a mixture. He will try to say a word, or will hold up a card and emphatically sign "me" for something that he really wants, for example.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Mon 24-Mar-14 07:31:54

I prefer PECS. If taught properly it is marvellous and transferable. You shouldn't be attempting to teach it yourself unless you have been on an official Pyramid course yourself, and refuse teaching from a professional who can't show you their higher level certificate.

You should never be attempting to undermine a vital skill like pointing either, so with that therapist I would go with makaton because it causes less harm being taught badly.

RaRaTheNoisyLion Mon 24-Mar-14 07:33:51

I used PECS with my verbal son btw. It broke done the skill of 'communication' and taught him the component parts.

ouryve Mon 24-Mar-14 14:47:28

And agreeing with RaRa about the pointing. If DS2 has the appropriate card to hand, he will gesture towards the object with the card. It makes no sense to step back from that. In DS2's case, it would be a gesture of "I want a drink from one of those cups" (which by necessity, are kept up a height or else he would fill and empty all the cups, repeatedly, and the kitchen floor would be permanently flooded)

ouryve Mon 24-Mar-14 14:49:20

And also agreeing on how useful PECS can be. DS1 started nursery verbal, but still very communication disordered and selectively mute. He hardly spoke to anyone there for half a year. PECS brought him out of his shell, and he soon dropped it when he realised that it was OK to talk, and a lot easier, too.

sittinginsilence Wed 26-Mar-14 08:51:28

Hi Adrianna,
Makaton uses signs and symbols, so your SALT could work with you to use both and he may start to show his own preference. We are heavy makaton users (in fact I now want to become a tutor!) and my DD is signing conversationally now. It is hard work to start with and can take time to see them use the sign appropriately but we found that when it clicks there was no stopping her!
We're now discussing using the makaton literacy scheme for learning to read as she if familiar with the symbols but the curriculum learn to read programme has it's own set of pictures so we're trying to work out what will be best and cause the least confusion for her. But it's definitely worth keeping in mind that makaton is a complete communication language that looks for the user to say the word (or try smile ) along with the sign or symbol.
Good luck! x

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