I have known about PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) for years now and have used it on a couple of occasions. This summer I finally had some good results. The sytem is supposed to fill the gap in communication or offer a bridge of communication for those with autism or on the spectrum, to help them communicate with those we are outside of the spectrum. Great right?!!?
Sometimes, maybe?? Well the thing about PECS is that it can be disruptive to daily living, overwhelming for those administering the system, and not always productive and useful for the one using it. Here’s my latest experience using the system:
I didn’t want to wait to be allowed access to the school’s computer to collect the pictures I would need from the PECS software so I got on my computer, opened MS Word, and searched for clip art. I printed card stock sheets with 3 rows and, I think, 6 columns of pictures of common daily events and things she likes or encounters. I cut the pictures out. Put velcro on the backs of each card and stuck them on a corkboard I picked up at my pimp’s house, Wal-Mart.
We were on it hard for about a month then it faded. I guess we got distracted from using it and I feel that we should start back to curtail some of the crying she does throughout the day now that the Risperdal is completely out of her system.
I also was told that the system could encourage her to be more conversational. I saw that it did but that fades when the system isn’t in use.
In the past, the only thing she did with the pictures was chew on them and they were laminated and were the actual pics from the software.
I read not long ago somewhere on the web a mother stating how the system had been suggested to her and she found it to be very overwhelming to keep up with while using other protocols with her child. I agree with that because it’s not really normal to have to go to a board or pull out a picture book containing each event before you can do it. Or have a pile ready for the child to choose from to even complete a sentence for writing and reading exercises.
If a parent finds that they are having a time trying to keep up with everything suggested to them that maybe will help their child’s life, I think they should disregard it if it isn’t adding anything profound, through observation, to that child’s life. How can a child with autism really blend in with their peers and society as a whole if they are running around with picture books to help them be able to get from one point to the next?
PECS may not be as bad as a child running down the aisles of the supermarket ripping things off the shelves but having to keep up with a picture book while you chase the child down, while not tripping over yourself in the process, is not something I can be bothered with. My child hasn’t ran through a store (not ripping things off the shelves mind you) in a while….
Wait!! let me stop thinking about it before she does it the next time we are out.
But I think you get my point, the system is hit or miss for some. It may not work now but will work later on when the child has gained more skills as a whole, and vice versa. Also the good from using the system may be short lived or lackluster for some. I also feel that if you can’t afford the system or can’t find it on a public or school computer, use your own pix.
And finally I believe you should go into using the system with low or no expectations because there is no guarantee that you will get the results you read or heard about which were probably no less than fantastic.
Have you had experience with PECS?