The Effect of the PECS Alternative Communication System on Vocal Speech Acquisition in Children with Autism



This article describes the positive effect of teaching the PECS (Picture exchange communication system) alternative communication system on vocal speech acquisition in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Materials from an empirical study of three children with ASD and other mental disorders aged 2—4 years are presented. Measurements were made of the number of communication initiatives in children, in the form of requests using PECS pictures for three months. As a result of teaching communication using the PECS system, two out of three children had vocalization responses, in the form of words and phrasal speech. All three children demonstrated a decrease in the number of challenging behavior episodes as they learned functional communication. It was found out that learning to ask with the help of PECS has a positive effect on the vocalizations in children with autism and other mental disorders. Children trained to communicate using the PECS alternative communication system demonstrate less challenging behavior, acquire functional communication skills, which, in general, improves the quality of life of the child’s family

General Information

Keywords: PECS alternative communication system, verbal behavior, functional communication, alternative com- munication, augmentative communication, autism spectrum disorders, applied behavior analysis, teaching commu- nication skills

Journal rubric: Education & Intervention Methods

Article type: scientific article


Acknowledgements. The authors of the article are grateful to E. Bondy and L. Frost, the authors of the PECS method, for training and mentoring.

For citation: Popova O.A., Filina N.M. The Effect of the PECS Alternative Communication System on Vocal Speech Acquisition in Children with Autism. Autizm i narusheniya razvitiya = Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2021. Vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 23–39. DOI: 10.17759/autdd.2021710204.


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Information About the Authors

Olga A. Popova, director, NPO «Inclusive center “My Planet”», clinical psychologist, behavioral specialist, ORCID:, e-mail:

Nadezhda M. Filina, clinical manager, NPO “My Planet”, teacher-psychologist, behavioral specialist, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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