Sunday, 3 April 2016

For PECS Sakes!

For those that don't know - PECS = Picture Exchange Communication System.
It's a variety of picture cards used by the nonverbal community (not just by those with autism) to help them communicate their needs and wants.

I'll be the first to admit that we are absolute sh*t for using those cards. It's not that it doesn't work for V-Man. In the beginning of his diagnosis we were vigilant in using them for every little thing.
Then we had more kids and using PECS became an obstacle because they would go missing. Or ripped up (yes even the laminated ones got ripped up once chewed on enough!) or drooled on. The list goes on but you get the idea.

After an at home visit last week with the speech therapist (we have a new one that is seeing both boys because our previous had moved)- it was obvious we are crappy parents in terms of using PECS.
I have a blog post I'll post soon about why I'm not a super mom -but I'll continue...

We have found that V-Man using objects to communicate with us just worked better for everyone (aside from teachers and therapists).
Why? Because it eliminated the middle man (cards) - so to speak. We didn't have to use the cards- he could tell us what he wanted by giving us a cup for a drink, loaf of bread for when he's hungry, guide our hands to the DVD cabinet and so on.
This way there's no lost cards, no ripping Velcro sound to distract him and it doesn't cause the V-Man extra stares in public or pique the kids interest - which would lead to lost cards.

But now we are finally putting an effort into trying to be consistent with the school and overnight care and use those PECS.
"I want _____"
No and yes in Finnish
So as you can see - his PECS folder is simply a small binder with sticky velcro on the cover to give him a sentence strip "Minä haluan (I want) ____" and options on the bottom.
We were advised by his teacher that he's actually pretty good at picking what he wants from the book - so I stuck the Yes and No on the front for easier access.
The inside contains laminated sheets - so you could use sticky tack on the photos and the pages - but thankfully he has the sticky velcro glued in!

To use it - have your child remove the photo he or she wants (or has interests in!) and give it to you.
It takes a lot of patience and eventually your child can go from just 1 photo to picking what they want - to building a sentence and eventually - a communication board where they point out what they want! :)

Seeing as the V-Man hadn't used PECS at home with us in ages - he did quite alright.  He gave me a "Why do you have MY book?!" face and after a bit - realized I do know how to use it with him and was happy to tell me what to do. :)

It's all about consistency and trying.
For those that want to make your own cards - some kids respond better to actual photos of places and people - you could do it in Microsoft Word and make a table/chart and make the cards as big as you like and copy/paste photos in there.
Or you can download a variety of apps - just search for "PECS" or "autism" or "communication" and there should be some there.
For those that understand Finnish - or are willing to wing it - there's an online free system that helps you to create your own PECS called "Papu net".  Unfortunately clicking on the "English" tab doesn't provide you with the same services - so you'll have to go here in Finnish.
For those that shop online - Etsy has a great selection of PECS creators and here's one folder I bought with a wide selection of pictures. (Non-affiliated links!)


PS I'm not a therapist (obviously!) - just wanted to share our experience and links!

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