Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
My nonverbal son Matthew was first introduced to PECS - picture exchange communication system through a Speech Therapist at a Hospital setting. They experimented with a variety of devices over the years, starting with picture cards.
My son Nicholas was in a special education preschool class where the teacher had extensive knowledge in PECS. She purchased all her own supplies, attended PECS training sessions and helped get us started before she left the school for another position within the same school district.
I observed her using a small manila envelope with two strips of velcro down the middle that contained cards for one of the students to utilize.
She met the bus at the corner near the side entrance gate, and as the student came down the steps she had the envelope there for him to remove one of the cards showing that he had arrived off the bus and then was heading for breakfast before starting the school day.
Instead of using a done card with a slot to input finished cards, the envelope section housed the cards that had served their purpose.
Here is a similar schedule for a day where you can tape picture cards on the boxes and laminate it if the schedule is consistent on a daily basis. The site speechfun no longer exists, but Schedule Boards are available at ABA Resources as well. Another option would be to laminate the sheet before putting on cards and just velcro the cards that are needed for any given day. You could print one out for each day of the week, or just one for weekdays and another for a weekend schedule.
You can also make a sheet that becomes a schedule for a certain task the child needs to follow or master. Here is an example of the steps needed to use a bathroom and take a bath or shower. One is in color with the other sample being in black and white. You can see the differences in using a variety of software, cards, pictures and symbols for making schedules.
For children that comprehend goals and rewards you can make a board that has their photo, chores for the day and the reward they receive when they complete their chores, using a picture card of the activity or item they get at the end. This is still too advanced for my son Matthew.
Matthew has a board called Task List that has four velcroed spots for activities I place there that we pick from the activities posted on a board on the wall. At the bottom of the laminated board is a done envelope. Matthew places each card inside the envelope as he finishes the activity or game. Once we are done I place the cards back on the board and Matthew puts away the items.
Another option is to have a To Do/Done board available for when the child comes home from school. I purchased this one that has three spots on each side from ABA Resources. I also have another TO Do/Done board that has one long strip of velcro on each side. That one has the fuzzy side of the velcro, while the one pictured has the rough side of the velcro.
The summer camp both Nicholas and Matthew attend have schedules for each camper on one wall, as well as a main schedule for them to discuss at circle time. An instant polaroid is taken of each adult and camper that is posted under who is here today. The calendar is a large blue 35 pocket chart - we have the same one at home which is hanging on a wall with food cards inside. A board is shown to the campers with cards that show various feelings and emotions. They choose the one they are feeling that morning. The charts and calendars are available at Lakeshore Learning Store.
I have a variety of sentence strips to use with the notebook of PECS cards and can use them as stand alone when it is time for toilet training. I have a board taped above the wall in the kitchen over the sink that shows the steps to wash hands.
You can make countless sentence strips using Boardmaker like the Did you? example below:
There is also a program called Overboard for making picture schedules and communication boards. You can purchase the Schedule Strips through Icontalk.
Velcro can be purchased at Michael's arts and craft stores, and also through Augmentative Resources where you can also find Portable Schedules.
Some resources I printed out years ago are Tips for Placing Picture Symbols in the Environment by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP) in collaboration with the Center for Literacy and Disabilities (CLD) at Duke University and the CLIPCASE Communication Board Idea by the Wisonsin Assistive Technology Initiative.
Scheduling and Sequencing- this mom has pictures of the schedule and how her son uses Write Out Loud with Writing With Symbols 2000 from Mayer Johnson. Great visuals!
Flash 5,000 Teaching Pix
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.
Assistive Technology Options
Activities using picture cards