Some Disadvantages Of Using PECS

    Previous Next

    Some Disadvantages Of Using PECS


    PECS is the exclusive home of the Picture Exchange Communication System and the Pyramid Approach to Education. The company was established in 1992 by Andrew Bondy, Ph.D., and Lori Frost, MS, CCC/SLP. PECS system is used worldwide to meet the communication needs for people of all ages across a multitude of disabilities.

    I myself am fully trained and experienced in using PECS to communicate with Sadie and have been certified in other programs such as,

    • Hannen program for communication.
    • Early bird program for Autism HSE.
    • A.B.A trained REHABCARE.

    The PECS system uses pictures and symbols, displayed on a Velcro book or in a binder that a person can point to when he or she wants to communicate. Although there are many advantages to using this system to help children begin to communicate, there are some disadvantages to communicating with the help of symbols.

    Communication that is Limited.

    The PECS system may become limiting as the individual child becomes more advanced in his or her ability to communicate. For me, one of the biggest issues is the limitation of the system in social situations. In order for the individual child to communicate with a loved one or teacher, there must always be a picture available so they can share how they feel. However, speaking from experience these pictures are often lost or damaged which can lead to frustration and angry outbursts. PECS does not allow for social communication independence, it is designed for same room interaction and does not provide the person with a verbal disability the opportunity to teach those around them the level of their cognitive abilities.


    For any parents or teachers who wish to use PECS system effectively, it will require training in the managing of communication through the picture cards and binders. The initial cost of the training is

    • US$330
    • UK£315
    • Euro€415
    • AUD$640

    This can be costly if many family members, teachers and therapists need the training.

    The replacement of pictures and binders is another issue when it comes to cost. You could purchase ready-made pictures directly from the company which come in packages at different pricing levels. This would mean that you would have to purchase an entire package just to replace one or two pictures. In an effort to reduce the cost of replacing pictures as well as the cost of adding new ones to binders, you can draw them by hand or print them from a computer, which you then need to laminate. This again would mean investing in the equipment to do so. This can become time-consuming.

    Nonverbal, Tool

    This is a nonverbal form of communication and for the PECS system to be effective it will take a huge commitment from teachers, parents and loved ones to ensure each child using the system will progress. Without this commitment, you could further delay speech, or even repress speech completely. There is no built-in language reinforcement, you must continuously say the word aloud.

    About the Author: John Clohessy

    John Clohessy