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Picture Exchange Communication Systems

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PECS cards illustrated by MissLunaRose

Sample PECS cards illustrated by autistic artist Miss Luna Rose

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), developed at Delaware Autistic Program in 1985, assists "children and adults with ASD to acquire functional communication skills." [1] It is a form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

PECS is useful for communicating basic needs, wants, and other simple ideas. It consists of a series of picture cards, which may be kept in a binder or another storage place. The autistic person hands a card to another person to represent what they want to say (for example, a card with a picture of a book if they want you to read to them).

Picture cards should be kept in an easily accessible location, so the autistic person can get them at any time.

Limitations Edit

PECS can only communicate simple concepts. This may work well for a two-year-old, but a ten-year-old or adult probably has more to say.

A nonverbal or partially verbal autistic person would benefit from other forms of AAC, such as typing or sign language.


  1. Autism Society of America - Learning approaches [1]

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