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Picture Exchange Communiation System (PECS)

What is PECS?

PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System uses picture systems so that individuals learn the fundamentals of communication:

  • Initiation
  • Exchange of  wants/needs, ideas, knowledge
  • How to construct sentences

It is:

  • Inexpensive
  • Portable
  • Easily adapted
  • Requires structured and frequent trials
  • Not a visual schedule

Goal of PECS?

  • Teach individuals a means for using effective and functional communication

Appropriate Candidates?

  • Individuals who are selectively mute or functionally non-verbal
  • Individuals who you are not sure have the basics of communication related to initiation and exchange (often implemented as a precursor to AAC)
  • Minimum of 17 months of age chronologically
  • Motorically able to pick up a picture and hand it to someone else (although materials may be modified for certain students and situations)

More on candidacy: PECS Candidacy

What are the Basic Principles of PECS?

  • Communication is a two-way street
  • Encourage participation in education/life by enticing individuals with powerful reinforcers
    • Reinforcer = a consequence (tangible such as food or social such as attention) that increases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated!
    • We all access reinforcers (e.g.,. someone gives it to you, we get it for ourselves, we ask for it, we earn it)

How Do I “Do” PECS?

Overview of PECS and Phase Reminders

Overview of PECS Video

The following cheat sheets and videos provide a basic overview of each phase. Contact your building SLP for further training and support.


Phase 1

Phase 1 Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 1 Cheat Sheet

Phase 1 Video Tutorial: PECS Phase 1

Here’s an awesome data collection sheet developed by Jen Marson-Parker: PECS-Level 1 Data Sheets


Phase 2

Phase 2 Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 2

Phase 2 Video Tutorial: PECS Phase 2

Here’s an awesome data collection sheet developed by Jen Marson-Parker: PECS-Level 2 Data Sheets


Phase 3

Phase 3a  Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 3a

Phase 3a Video Tutorial: Phase 3a


Phase 3b  Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 3b

Phase 3b Video Tutorial: PECS Phase 3b


Phase 4

Phase 4 Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 4

Phase 4 Video Tutorial: PECS Phase 4



Phase 5 Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 5

Phase 5 Video Tutorial: PECS Phase 5


Phase 6

Phase 6 Cheat Sheet: PECS Phase 6


Here are some basic core word PECS symbols to get your started:

core 1


core 3

core 4

core 5

core 6