Understanding The Picture Exchange Communication System® (PECS®)
Information and video by Caroline Muolo, B.A. Psych, ITDS Early Intervention Autism Navigator Coach, Licensed PLAY Project Consultant
The Background Behind PECS®
The Picture Exchange Communication System® (PECS®) is an evidenced-based alternative communication system. This communication system was developed by Andy Bondy, Ph.D., and Lori Frost, MS, CCC-SLP. PECS and it was first implemented with pre-school students diagnosed with autism at the Delaware Autism Program. The PECS® teaching protocol is based on B.F. Skinner’s book, Verbal Behavior, and broad-spectrum Applied Behavior Analysis.
Phase #1 and #2 of PECS®
PECS consists of six phases and begins with Phase 1, “How to Communicate” in which individuals learn to exchange single pictures for items or activities they really want. Phase 2 is called “Distance and Persistence” in which individuals still use a single picture and learn to generalize this new skill by using it in different places, with different people, and across distances. To see an example of a PECS® session (either Phase 1 or Phase 2), please click on the links below.
At Easterseals SWFL, we implement PECS not only in the classrooms and therapy clinic but also in our Early Intervention home-based practices. In these clips, you will see Caroline Muolo, ITDS working with one of her clients in their telehealth sessions. Caroline is coaching the family through Phase 1 and Phase 2 of PECS. These parents work as a great team to help their child, Liam use PECS to request two of his favorite toys! The combination of evidence-based Early Intervention coaching practices and PECS is helping Liam’s abilities continue to shine! Stay tuned to learn more about the remaining phases in the PECS educational series.
About The Therapist
Caroline Muolo was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States as a toddler, growing up in a Spanish-speaking home. As she entered school, she distinguished herself in both academics and various extracurricular activities. She determined early on that she would continue with higher education to work with children as an educator or a child psychologist. Caroline graduated with high honors from Monmouth University in NJ, earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in early childhood development. She discovered the potential for a career in Early Intervention, allowing her to both educate and provide therapeutic services. She embraced the opportunity and has had a fruitful career for the better part of two decades as a bilingual Infant and Toddler Developmental Specialist.
Her discipline involves working with neuro-diverse children from birth to 3 years of age. Specifically, these children may display flags for ASD, have various chromosomal abnormalities, demonstrate communication, motor, and other developmental delays, or experience sensory integration challenges. Her calling is to guide and coach parents and caregivers to a holistic approach. She focuses on fostering child development, not only with therapeutic strategies that utilize materials in the child’s natural environment but also by optimizing daily routines and nutrition to achieve developmental goals. Her belief is that all children have a variety of strengths and gifts, regardless of their diagnoses. By making use of or optimizing those strengths, children are guided to succeed.