The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) an alternative communication system produced by Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc. PECS has been the subject of much academic research, with currently over 85 PECS-related publications.
PECS begins with teaching a student to exchange a picture of a desired item with a teacher/communicative partner, who immediately honors the request. After the student learns to spontaneously request for a desired item, the system goes on to teach discrimination among symbols and then how to construct a simple sentence.
In the most advanced phases, individuals are taught to respond to questions and to comment. Additionally, descriptive language concepts such as size, shape, color, number, etc. are also taught so the student can make their message more specific. For example, I want big yellow ball.
Students are base-lined for their appropriate level when they arrive at Marlborough School and they are given frequent opportunities to encourage them to communicate using PECS across the day and across situations, their progress is tracked each term.
The training protocol is based on the principles of applied behavior analysis. The goal of PECS is spontaneous and functional communication. Verbal prompts are not used during the early phases, thus building immediate initiation and avoiding prompt dependency.