Picture Exchange Communication System

Educational Method for teaching diverse students with Autism

The PECS system allows children with little or no verbal ability to communicate using pictures. As and adult you would help the child build a vocabulary and articulate desires, observations or feelings by using pictures consistently.

Phases of PECS

How to Communicate
Students learn to exchange single pictures for items or activities they really want.

Distance and Persistence
Still using single pictures, students learn to generalize this new skill by using it in different places, with different people and across distances. They are also taught to be more persistent communicators.

Picture Discrimination
Students learn to select from two or more pictures to ask for their favorite things. These are placed in a communication book—a ring binder with Velcro® strips where pictures are stored and easily removed for communication.

Sentence Structure
Students learn to construct simple sentences on a detachable sentence strip using an “I want” picture followed by a picture of the item being requested.

Attributes and Language Expansion
Students learn to expand their sentences by adding adjectives, verbs and prepositions.

Answering Questions
Students learn to use PECS to answer the question, “What do you want?”.

Now students are taught to comment in response to questions such as, “What do you see?”, “What do you hear?” and “What is it?”. They learn to make up sentences starting with “I see”, “I hear”, “I feel”, “It is a”, etc.

Some PICS Examples

Steps of PECS

PECS begins with teaching the child to exchange a picture for an object. Eventually, the individual learns to distinguish between pictures and symbols and use these to form sentences.

What is PECS? (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2015, from