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How to Make a PECS Book for Communication

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I was first introduced to the Picture Exchange Communication (PECS) system as a special education teacher working with autistic children who were functionally non-verbal. When one of my children had a language delay, I used the same system to teach him to communicate. He was later diagnosed with autism. Another one of my children is also showing signs of a speech delay and needs a way to communicate, so it was time to make another communication book. I took photos of the process so you can see how to make your own PECS book.

What is PECS?

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a research based low tech communication system. Photographs or pictures are used to provide a child with the means to communicate their wants and needs. In initial teaching, a child is taught to make requests using a single photograph or picture. Later on, a child will make sentences by combining pictures on a sentence strip.

How to Make a PECS book:

Supplies to make a PECS book:


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Step 1:

 

 

 

 

 

Take your binder and place it in front of you. Rotate the binder so that it is in the horizontal position. Measure up 2.5 inches from the bottom and draw a line across.

Step 2:

Cut on your line using heavy duty scissors.

Step 3: Finish the cut edges with electrical tape.

Cut a length of electrical tape to go along the edge of the cut edge, allowing for the tape to hang off the end by about 1/4-1/2 inch. Place the cut edge half way on the length of the tape (see photograph).

On the end of the tape, cut the overhanging edge to the binder and wrap the bottom half of the end over the binder piece.

Next fold the length of electrical tape down over the top of the unfinished binder edge.

Last, wrap the remaining end pieces around to the other side to seal the edge.

Step 4: Repeat the process in Step 3 with the other unfinished edge of the binder.

Step 5: Add the velcro

 

Take your sticky back velcro and non-stick scissors and cut pieces to fit along the length of the binder. Use the fuzzy side of the velcro.

I used 1″ velcro and cut it in half. Then I put 3 strips on the front of my binder. I also put a strip on my cut off piece.

Step 6: Attach the cut off section of the binder with velcro.

 

 

 

Cut a piece of scratchy and fuzzy velcro the same length. These will be used to attach the cut off piece of the binder, which functions as a sentence strip on the communication book.

Here is a view of the inside of the binder. The inside of the binder can be used to store additional pictures as the child learns to use more words. The additional pages can be made from cardstock or thin cardboard. Just cut them to size and hole punch the pages. Then add strips of velcro, similar to the front of the binder, to secure and store the extra communication pictures.

Step 6: Add pictures to your PECS book

The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981–2016 by Tobii Dynavox. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.

Boardmaker® is a trademark of Tobii Dynavox

 

 

 

Make picture cards and put sticky back velcro pieces on the back to attach them to the communication book. You can laminate the picture cards for durability. I glued mine to a cereal box, cut out, and wrapped the front with clear tape.


First Words:

Photos vs. Drawings:

I used Boardmaker to create my pictures for this PECS book. If a child can match picture to picture and picture to object, they are ready for this level of symbolic communication. If not, you need to start teaching with photographs or objects. CLICK HERE to read about how to assess visual discrimination skills. This results of this assessment will help you determine if your child needs to start at the object, photograph, or picture level for using the Picture Exchange Communication System.

How to Teach Initial Communication with a PECS book:

The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981–2016 by Tobii Dynavox. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.

Boardmaker® is a trademark of Tobii Dynavox

 

 

 

Initial teaching is generally done at a snack time. You could also do a play time session to teach the child to request favorite toys in the same manner. Provide visual representation cards (pictures or photographs) for 2-3 snack choices. Place the cards within the child’s reach. When the select a card, help them hand the card to you, and then give them a small portion of the requested food. Repeat the process to teach the child to request preferred items by handing you the picture card.

Summary on a DIY PECS Book

This article described how to make your own low-tech communication device for the Picture Exchange Communication System. Explaining the process and progression through teaching language and communication through a PECS system is beyond the scope of this blog post. For more information, either consult with your speech therapist or consider reading “A Picture’s Worth: PECS and other visual communication strategies in autism.”

 

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