Visual Communication and Autism

It is widely known that people with ASD are visual learners and as a result, benefit from visual support in order to communicate.



The PECS communication programme is absolutely fantastic and has received worldwide recognition for its effectiveness amongst those with ASD. The training itself prepares the trainee on how to implement the programme and also how to manage challenges that may arise as a result of communication difficulties, for example, teaching how to ‘wait’.


Once you have invested in the training, all you need is symbol making software (communicate in print, matrix maker etc), a laminator, laminating pouches and velcro. A very small price to pay to teach someone to communicate! The key is to utilise every possible opportunity to teach communication techniques. If you are struggling on how to do this, have a look at this bubble chart of ideas…

Visual Communication throughout the day

From my experience of PECS, here are a few tips;

  • The programme has strict phases which need to be followed! As trainers, staff need to ensure they understand the phase they are teaching to allow the student to complete it appropriately.
  • Do not start the next phase until the student is confident to do so (this means completing the current phase with different motivators, staff, settings etc).
  • Never dismiss a potential motivator…in the past we have had punch pocket, potato and an empty water bottle to name a few!
  • A student is never ‘too young’ to communicate!
  • Remember there is a difference between PECS and visual schedules! PECS refers to the 6 phase communication programme.
  • Elements of PECS can be used in lots of activities, for example, ‘error correction’ is great to convey to correct answer in subjects, e.g ‘where is the big square?’

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