PECS Picture Exchange Communication System

    The school fosters a total communication environment where there is a strong emphasis on functional communication and the development of independence skills. All learning is supported with relevant symbols/words, visual supports and structures to ensure meaningful participation.

    We recognize that due to their autism our children have particular difficulties with speaking and listening, whilst also recognizing that to teach them the most efficient communication is the most single important thing we do.

    We understand that children are more likely to be successful communicators in environments that are designed to encourage and support their efforts. We believe that in order for the child to initiate effective communication two conditions must be met:

    1. there must be a reason to communicate:

      This is encouraged by the use of powerfully motivating materials and activities that are personalized for the individual pupil, and by creating situations in which they must communicate to make something happen.
    2. there must be a means to communicate:

      Pupils must be taught the communication behaviours they will need, and visual supports for that communication will need to be available.

    To support effective communication the school uses the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), a successful approach that uses pictures alongside words to develop successful communication skills. The system teaches children to initiate spontaneous communication and allows them to express their wants and needs. It is scientifically supported as an effective communication intervention.

    To help ensure consistency of approach and understanding of PECS all members of staff receive an intensive two day training when they join the school, and regular updates. The school has senior staff who are trained at an even higher level in order to be able to mentor and coach staff in the correct use of PECS. Additionally, the school has a PECS consultant who visits the school regularly to do classroom observations and developmental feedback.