PECs – Photos, Picture Symbols, or Both?

When I first entertained the idea of intergrating PECs (picture cards) into Noah’s communication strategies, it made sense to me to use real photos.  I mean, if I want Noah to know what something is, it just makes sense for him to learn it through a photo of the actual object versus a drawing or symbol of the same object.

Ah, but that was before I read up on Picture Exchange Communication Symbols and realized there is a well-developed train of thought behind using drawings or symbols versus photos.

If you think about it, words are really “symbols” or  representations of an object.  The word is not really the object, it’s just a combination of letters that we learn represents the named object.

Photos are the very easiest way for a child to recognize an object (other than looking at the actual object).  A photograph is a representation, a “symbol” of the actual object.  Photos and real objects are closely linked.   The relationship between the object and a drawing of the object is a little more abstract.  A black and white symbol that represents the object is even more of a distant relationship, and the actual spoken word is the most distant relationship from the object.  When we use PECS, PECs or picture cards (or any other way you want to label them), we are trying to inch closer and closer to recognizing the relationship between words and objects.

Depending on your child’s language or speech issue, you and your child’s speech therapist should carefully consider which symbols – photos or pictures – best support the spoken word/object relationship  to your child.

These days I’m finding that Noah’s understanding of words leaves his ability to communicate those words in the dust.  I dedicate most of my time with him to supporting his speech efforts, but I don’t want to neglect his acquisition of vocabulary, and I definately want to make sure that he knows what each object actually looks like versus just what an illustrated representation of that object looks like.

That’s what today’s freebie is all about.  I’ve taken some of the key words out of How Will We Get to the Beach by Brigitte Luciani and made a matching worksheet out of them.  Whether your child is familiar with the book or not, this matching exercise reinforces the idea that drawings of objects and pictures of objects both can represent the same word.  Simply print off the worksheet, laminate it if you want to reuse it at a later date, and have your child draw lines to match each drawing to it’s corresponding photo.  If your child is not familiar with these types of activities, draw dotted lines to match the objects and have your child trace your lines.  After a couple times tracing the lines, see if your child can draw the lines on his own accompanied by your prompting.  Remember, our goal is success – and it’s our job to give our children all the support they need to be successful.

2 thoughts on “PECs – Photos, Picture Symbols, or Both?”

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