Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) was developed in 1985 as a unique augmentative/alternative training package that teaches children and adults with autism and other communication deficits to initiate communication. PECS does not require complex or expensive materials. It was created with educators, resident care providers and families in mind, and so it is readily used in a variety of settings.

PECS begins with teaching a student to exchange a picture of a desired item with a “teacher”, who immediately honors the request. The system teaches prompting and reinforcement strategies that can lead to independent communication . As skills progress individuals are taught to comment and answer direct questions.

The PECS Training Manual, 2nd Edition, written by Lori Frost, MS, CCC/SLP and Andrew Bondy, PhD. provides all of the necessary information to implement PECS effectively. It guides readers through the six phases of training and provides examples, helpful hints and templates for data and progress reporting. This training manual is recognized by professionals in the fields of communication and behavior analysis as an effective and practical guide to one of the most innovative systems available.

Phases of PECS

  • Phase I: Teaches students to initiate communication right from the start by exchanging a single picture for a highly desired item.
  • Phase II: Teaches students to be persistent communicators- to actively seek out their pictures and to travel to someone to make a request.
  • Phase III: Teaches students to discriminate pictures and to select the picture that represents the item they want.
  • Phase IV: Teaches students to use sentence structure to make a request in the form of “I want _____.”
  • Phase V: Teaches students to respond to the question “What do you want?”
  • Phase VI: Teaches students to comment about things in their environment both spontaneously and in response to a question.
  • Expanding Vocabulary Teaches students to use attributes such as colors, shapes and sizes within their requests.


  • Pyramid Educational Consultants: www.pecs.com