The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): Improving the Communication Skills of Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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According to Ganz, Lund and Simpson (2012), “children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental delays frequently experience deficits in functional communication. Identifying and using suitable communication enhancement and augmentative and alternative communication supports is essential to achievement of positive outcomes for these learners”. This TC examines “the use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), a commonly used and utilitarian AAC system for children and youth who lack sufficient functional communication skills. Particular attention is given to practitioners’ use of this promising tool”.

This course...
• is for teachers and classroom assistants who teach to autistic students;
• will help teachers to improve their classroom management;
• will give them new ideas and strategies for their own teaching.

Objectives: This 5-day course aims:
• to familiarize participants with autism and communication skills and increase their understanding of the approach
• to introduce participants to incorporating PECS and communication skills models and their practical implementation
• to enable participants to design lesson plans and materials suitable for their autistic students’ needs.

Methodology: During the course, participants are exposed to a range of activity types and resources. This can include the following:
• demonstrations of lessons using the methodology in question;
• adapting and exploiting materials in the context of examining the behavioral and sensory integration skills of autistic students in European dimension;
• teaching strategies
The course includes daily practical sessions on preparing micro lessons to be used as case studies during the training and promotes the “learn how to learn” methodology and is based on learning by doing and collaborative learning. The methodology includes lectures, presentation of case studies by teachers that have incorporated sensory integration skills and PECS in their classes, workshops and exercises, and Web tools.

Outcomes: At the completion of the course, participants will have:
• A broader understanding of proper intake and use of sensory input which is absolutely critical to a child's maturation process and the building of core, foundational skills
• An increased access to a variety of activities to address sensory integration / sensory processing needs as well as to integration strategies
• Opportunity for post-course dissemination of good practice to other teachers

Follow-Up: All participants are encouraged to maintain contact with their colleagues from the course and to establish contacts with teachers from other countries and regions to share experiences and difficulties encountered. Moreover, participants should work on adapting and creating materials for use.

Course organiser
Trikala, Greece

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