Last night, Louise spent the evening printing out little pictures of things that Oliver is likely to need or ask for on a daily basis. The pictures include food and drink, television characters, and an iPad among other things. These are then laminated, cut to a certain size, and placed into Oliver’s PECs book using velcro.
PECs stands for Picture Exchange Communication, and in conjunction with other techniques such as Intensive Interaction, we use PECs to try and help Oliver to communicate his needs and wishes to us more effectively. Prior to this, Oliver would come and drag us to something that he wanted, and try to move our hands toward the item. We didn’t always get it right however, and this could lead to quite a major tantrum. PEC’s gives us a better chance to find out what Oliver wants, and also encourages him to use a form of normal communication with us, with the ultimate hope that it will help him progress towards speech and verbal communication.
Getting started with PECs wasn’t easy. Oliver was used to dragging us around, and initially he objected quite strongly to being presented with this book of pictures and asked to choose the item that he wanted, and place that card into our hands in exchange for the item. There were many early failures, lots of tantrums, and a lot of frustration on his part and indeed ours. Slowly but surely though, he has started to get it, and this is pretty much exclusively down to Louise. You may recall from an earlier post that Intensive Interaction seemed to come quite naturally to me for some reason. Well, the same can be said for Louise and PECs. She has really launched herself into the process, with a consistent, and persistent approach, and it has really started to pay off.
I am somewhat the weak link in the chain when it comes to PECs consistency I have to say. I am getting better at it, but I find it difficult at times, and have to stop myself from giving up when it seems easier to just give Oliver what he wants, or I feel I don’t have the time. It is so important that we are consistent with our approach to PECs, as Oliver needs things presented to him as clearly as we possibly can. It is essential that we try to avoid confusion.
We are several weeks into our PECs experience now, and Oliver will now happily exchange a PECs card for a drink of juice, a bag of Frazzles, biscuits, bubbles, and even access to the iPad. He has made some real progress without a shadow of a doubt. However, there is still some way to go. His PECs book hangs on the living room door. When we want him to use PECs, we have to bring the book to him and show him his options. He does not take kindly to being taken to his PECs book, nor would he do this by himself. Given the progress he has made so far however, I am confident that with time, patience, consistency, and persistence, he will.