I remember a favorite quote: “Communication is a skill you can learn. It’s like riding a bike or writing. If you want to work with it, you can quickly improve the quality of every part of your life.”
I will introduce you to one particular case in my logopedic practice with one of the many children where the PECS method has helped communication and has improved the quality of life of the whole family …
Victor is a 7-year-old. When we introduced PECS, Vicky was 4 years old, and this year he is about to study in a general school in his fall. We started working together with a psychologist. The beginning was very difficult. The child was only interested in cars – stacking them in a row on the ground side by side. In every attempt to attract his attention in some way, he dashed to the ground, shouted, aggression toward himself, his mother, and the therapists. There was no speech. The contact we could have with him (if he could call it) was only through the cars – I take a car, Vicky comes and grabs or pulls it from my hands. He reached extremely violently in an attempt to make him ask for it – both with a gesture or a word.
Together with my colleague, we decided to start using the PECS method and, for our joy, as well as Vicki’s mother (attended at the sessions), the child definitely liked the method, and the first positive results we observed at the beginning. Vicky started taking the symbol himself and handed it to me to get the so-desired toy, a car. It was also impressive that thanks to PECS, the child showed interest in other activities as well. He found that there were other toys in the room, which were also interesting and with which he could play. Vicky started using PECS at home.
Gradually we went through the three phases of PECS and we reached the fourth phase, where Vicki himself built the sentence “I want … (car, ball, cube …). Then we heard the first word Vicki said – car. After several tests, the child tried to speak a whole sentence. Vicky’s mother, at each subsequent meeting, was excited and shared the success of using the method and spelling out more and more new words. Not long after, we reached the point where Vicky, using PECS, began using sentences of four, gradually and five words – “I want five red ladybugs.” Subsequently, in the course of her work, Vickie spoke more and more varied sentences – “I hear …”, “I see …”, “This is…”
Every day, with the joint efforts of Vicky’s therapists and mother, the child began to communicate more successfully by spelling out the sentences spontaneously, and at one moment watching her verbally expressing her desires, outpacing the arrangement of the symbolic images of the sentence-stripe. When he established his skills and felt certain, Vicky no longer needed to use PECS, and today he speaks freely, without the help of the method, as an excellent partner in communicating with adults and children. At the moment, a large proportion of parents with children with communicative autism spectrum difficulties who visit Karin dom use PECS at home as well. This makes it easier for the child to acquire new communication skills, it also facilitates parents who find a way to communicate with their child.
The author of the article is Petya Vicheva, who is part of the Karin Dom therapeutic team since 2012. Petya conducts individual sessions and counseling for children with communicative disorders. Her interests are related to family-oriented approach, interactive interaction, sensory-based activities and communication, eating and drinking. In her work she likes to integrate effective therapeutic methods that stimulate communication. Her challenge is language abuses of children from the autistic spectrum, as well as children with emotional and behavioral characteristics. Petya Vicheva is a certified PECS and ABA therapist. She developed a diagnosis of phonological awareness and rapid serial naming in order to prevent the risk of dyslexia by applying a Picture Test for phonological awareness in children aged 4 to 7.
Photo: Karin dom