What Are the Disadvantages of a Picture Exchange Communication System?

A picture exchange communication system (PECS) is vital in teaching communication and interaction skills to children with autism. Autistic children find it difficult to sequence words within a sentence owing to neural development disorders. PECS can help solve the sentence construction problem and enable autistic children to be independent in their daily lives. However, this communication system has various limitations.

Cost

Parents and educators who wish to use PECS effectively require training using picture cards and binders. The training comes in six phases and is time consuming. The initial phases, for instance, involve learning how to teach autistic children how to request items spontaneously using ready-made picture cards. The training also helps you comment on their ideas and answer their questions in class. PECS’s teaching strategies such as "prompting and reinforcement" are educational protocols created by American behaviorist, author and social philosopher, Frederic Skinner.

Speech Delay

Using non-verbal communication makes it hard to attain normal communication abilities. The PECS system, for instance, delays speech in autistic children, and this suppresses their ability to exploit their learning potential and improve their academic grades. Parents and educators, therefore, must put in extra effort to help children using PECS to learn. This might require parents and teachers to spend more money and time.

Communication Limitation

PECS can become a limiting factor when autistic individuals improve their ability to communicate, because there may not always be adequate picture cards to enable the child to communicate his thoughts. The inability to communicate with the child clearly may make teachers and therapists misinterpret his needs and ideas, bringing confusion and frustration into the learning process.

Adjustment Requirements

It's challenging to keep up with the adjustments necessary for PECS to be effective. When using this system, you must constantly adjust the binder or picture board holding the picture cards. You need to add complex picture cards as the pupil improves her communication skills. This makes it necessary for most people using PECS to access a computer and a printer, making the learning process expensive. Computers and printers make it possible for learners in different stages to use pictures that are unique to their level of learning.

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About the Author

Diana Wicks is a Canadian residing in Vancouver. She began writing in 2004 while still a student at Lincoln School of Journalism, in the city of London. She has worked as Chief Editor of Business Chronicle, an online magazine based in London. Wicks holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in journalism and a Master of Business Administration from the London School of Economics.