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Autism Speech Therapy Singapore Functional Communications via PECS.
Adopted by Ministry of Education SPED schools such as Pathlight, St Andrew’s Autism School in Singapore, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a widely popular communication training program utilised in for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) showing speech developmental delay.
Utilising PECS, expressive communication skills are targeted through the training of requests and later, comments. Children using PECS are taught to approach and give an icon picture of a desired item to a communicative partner in exchange for that item.
By doing so, the child initiates a communicative act for a concrete item within a social context.” In the PECS program, a child’s expressive communication abilities are shaped via the use of reinforcement, delay, and generalization across trainers and settings. PECS training consists of six phases.
At Autism21, the key difference that we follow through each and every session is to simulate a conducive structured environment to induce opportunities for the child to embark on a journey in communicating.
Being able to expressively communicate through non-vebal to verbal forms, PECS is carefully crafted in the following Phases.
Training begins on a single picture of highly desired item. Student picks up picture of desired item and releases into communicative partner’s hand in exchange for desired item. Communicative partner gives the item to the child while naming the item (e.g. “car”). Two adults (i.e. the communicative partner and a physical prompter) are used during this phase.
PHASE I I
A communication book is introduced and increased distance is placed between child and communicative partner. Child is required to get picture from her communication book and travel to communicative partner to request item. To increase spontaneity and persistence, placement of picture symbol is varied in the book. Also, generalization across variety of trainers, contexts and reinforcers is introduced at this phase.
Child is required to discriminate between two picture symbols (highly desired vs. non-desired item to gradually multiple desired items). Correspondence checks are done to insure that child is truly requesting preferred item.
Child uses a sentence starter (“I want”) to make a request by building and exchanging a two picture sequence- sentence strip with “I want” symbol plus picture symbol for preferred item. Communication partner provides verbal model, “I want...” and pauses before labeling the requested item and handing sentence strip and requested item back to child. The communication partner differentially reinforces any vocal attempt.
Communicative partner introduced the verbal prompt “What do you want?” Over time, a delay is inserted between the verbal prompt and an additional gesture prompt toward the “I want” picture symbol.
Comments are trained as child exchanges sentence strips to respond to partner’s communicative Phase VI questions (i.e., “What do you see?”; “What do you want?”; “What do you have?”).
PECS Method is validated by researchers
Harvesting the strength of research evidence, and the effectiveness of PECS in increasing communication and speech abilities in children with autism for both single subject experiments and group studies. A systematic review of the literature on PECS written since 1994 and June 2009 was conducted using various bibliographic databases, hand searches, and reverse searches for seminal for communication and speech outcomes.