Monday, November 24, 2008

Ready Steady PECS

We have officially started training Matt to use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) as a way of giving him a means to communicate his needs, and hopefully oneday his thoughts too. PECS was developed for children with autism, and it has been found to works well with kids who have other reasons for speech delay. PECS does not inhibit development or distract the child from learning speech. Rather it has been shown that speech is facilitated through the use of this strategy.
On Saturday afternoon our Speech Therapist, Julia, arrive at our house armed with loads of laminated photos of Matt's important things.

Here are all the laminated photos - you can see they include
everything from food items to toys to eating utensils.
Each photo has a piece of velcro behind it and
this helps it to stick to the communication board (bottom left).

Here are some of the photos paired with the items they represent.

We are starting Matt off with Phase 1: "HOW" to communicate. Here we need two people to work with Matt - one person is the communcation partner (the person who has the thing that Matt wants, e.g. favourite toy or food) and the other is the physical prompter (sits behind Matt and helps Matt to use the photo to communicate). So we are trying to teach Matt that in order to get the desired item he needs to pick up the photo off the communication board and pass it to the communication partner.

Matt seems to be getting the hang of the whole exchange thing. However he does need to be reminded to pick up the picture rather than just reach for the item. And he struggles a bit to get picture off the velcro as it is stuck to the communication board. But once he has it in his hand he is happy to pass it to the communication partner.

The key to this first stage is to have the 2 people so that the communicator is not prompting Matt as to how to use the pictures. I was so excited to get this going as I know Matt is just bursting with things that he wants to tell us. Poor Lloyd was very unwell on Sunday and didn't want to share his germs with Matt so we didn't do any PECS practising. I found it hard to focus on being loving and caring whilst nursing my husband, when all I wanted to do was to get going with Matt's communication.

Lloyd being unwell got be thinking about broadening the number of people who can help me with Matt during phase 1 so that it isn't just up to the times when Lloyd is available. So am going to put together a small team of various friends and family to help with this Phase 1 training.
Watch this space


Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

Keep blogging about Matts progress, Im very intereseted in this.

carina said...

Very Clever! Please, if possible, could you keep a detailed record. We would like to use that in our guide for parents. But I will email you about that if you don't mind. I know he is going to drive you nuts with his photo's!

Cindy said...

Yeah Matt! Natalie loves her PECS book.

Valerie said...

Ah! I LOVE PECS books! I had a lot of fun creating those last year. I know you probably have a lot of resources to things like this, but have you heard of Boardmaker? They have thousands of pictures in their software, especially designed for helping kids communicate better. I absolutely loved it, and thought you might be interested in it too. :-)

I still love reading about Matt!! I'm so glad that you're sharing your experiences!

God Bless!


Kelly said...

I will be interested to hear how he is doing with this form of communication. I should start this with Max. We have laminated pictures for Max, but of large sized photos. He loves to look at them, but we haven't really started communicating with them. Max like songs, so his ST is going to bring laminated pictures of a spider for Itsy Bitsy Spider and a boat for Row, Row, Row Your Boat and others so he can make decisions on what songs to sing. I hope Lloyd is feeling better soon! Kelly F

Kristi said...

This is wonderful. I am going to start this with Noah after the holiday. Way to go Matt

Michelle said...

we tried the PECS system several times with Austin and it was so frustrating. He would only use it as a toy. He would get so frustrated with it! We haven't tried it in a year so maybe soon we'll try again, you did give me some ideas that no one told us to try. A lot of the RTS kids love to communicate this way so I'm sure Matt will get the hang of it!

Julia Travis said...

Thank you for sharing this exciting new chapter on your blogspot and giving some explanation of what PECS is all about. Think the "PECS team" approach is an excellent idea as this will help Matt communicate with more people and pick up the system faster. You are such a great advocate for Matt and through your dedication to sharing your journey, you are helping and supporting other families.