On the ABA Owls podcast episode for September, we’ve decided to return to the topic of PECS. In case you’d like to listen, you can go to our podcast page or use your preferred podcast app and search “Chirping with ABA Owls” – we’re on iTunes, Podbean and other platforms.
If you prefer to read rather than listen, carry on with this post.
A brief summary
PECS was developed in the U.S.A. in 1985 by Andy Bondy and Lori Frost. Dr. Bondy is an innovative leader in the field of autism and applied behaviour analysis and has directed a statewide public school system for students with autism for fourteen years.
Lori Frost is vice-president and co-founder of Pyramid Educational Consultants. Ms Frost has a wealth of background in functional communication training and applied behaviour analysis and has assisted in the development of a number of training packages designed to teach language and academic skills.
If you would like to hear more about the history of PECS, and the whys and hows, feel free to listen to our episode from November 2020.
PECS and ABA
The more we learn about PECS, the more we notice how much ABA is ingrained into it.
PECS looks into:
- Functional objectives – teaches learners the skills they need for when they leave school, and emphasise the importance of independence.
- Powerful reinforcement systems – what is rewarding for learners and to be aware of the changes over time. As we say in the ABA field, motivation is fluid, it evolves and changes over time. Being mindful of this and being able to adapt, allows us to effectively reinforce our clients with stimuli they actually like.
- Communication and social skills – this section of the training manual is based on the work of B.F. Skinner in his book Verbal Behavior from 1957.
- Preventing and reducing inappropriate behaviours – they have a different way of describing it, but it is essentially looking at the function of the behaviour. Gain access to reinforcement or items (tangible), escape or avoid activities or tasks (avoidance or escape).
- Generalisation – is paramount and throughout the course it focused a lot on where the skill is going and how it is going to benefit the learner in their growth towards independence. Generalisation is planned early on, just like it is done in ABA (or how it should be done).
- Prompting – PECS uses four levels of prompting: verbal, gestural, modelling and physical prompts. As any ABA practitioner will tell you, they use the same type of prompting.
- 4-step error correction procedure – similar to ABA error correction and they use it when teaching communication, requests and other skills. PECS is not just about asking for things, it’s also about other forms of communication across the verbal operants.
- Collecting and analysing data – they collect data on their learner’s progress and use it to make necessary changes.
- Verbal Operants – written by Andy Bondy, it goes through pre-requisite skills and how PECS and verbal operants work together.
If you’d like to hear some of the examples we discuss within each area, feel free to listen to our episode.
We find PECS to be a well set up system, organised in a way that teaches people to communicate effectively and in a functional manner.
We highly recommend doing the PECS courses, which you can access online – have a look at their website https://pecs.com/ and select your region.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post (and the podcast episode, if you’ve listened to it).
You can also follow us on Instagram (@ABA_owls), send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment below.
Thank you for reading,
Carla and Lauren