Picture exchange communication system

What is Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)?

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an alternative form of communication to speech, which uses pictures to help individuals communicate with others. Our speech and language therapists can train and support individuals, their carers and other professionals in using PECS.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a type of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). PECS uses pictures to help individuals to communicate. PECS is designed for children with autistic spectrum disorder, who are non-verbal (unable to speak). PECS can also be used with individuals with learning difficulties.

PECS works on the basis of the individual (with the communication problem) exchanging a picture with a communication partner in order for them to communicate with them. For example, exchanging a picture of a banana for an actual banana. The theory behind PECS is to reinforce the communication of the individual with the communication problem.

PECS involves seven different stages of training. In the initial stages of training the communication is kept very simple with the exchange of only one picture. Throughout the stages training will build on the individual's communication, using an increased amount of pictures and also pictures of more complex words e.g. verbs and abstract ideas of feelings and emotions.

The use of PECS can also help to encourage the use of spoken language once the individual begins to understand the use of communication.

Training in PECS can be given to the individual, parents and carers and other professionals so it can be effectively used in the home, education and social environments.

What are the benefits of a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)?

PECS can benefit autism spectrum disorder and learning difficulties in adulthood.

There are many benefits of using PECS. The main benefit of PECS is helping the individual to communicate more effectively with others. PECS has also been found to reduce undesirable behaviours and increase social interaction. PECS can also increase an individual's confidence and self-esteem when communicating and in turn improve their quality of life.


Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a form of Alternative and Augmentative Communication. PECS uses pictures to help individuals communicate more effectively. PECS is commonly used for children with autistic spectrum disorder who are non-verbal; it can also be used with individuals who have learning difficulties. The speech and language therapist will train the individual, their parents or carers and other professionals in helping to create a more effective communication environment.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

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