As I talked about earlier, we are really pushing PECS with Ayden this summer. After our visit at the FX Clinic, and a nice chat with Dr Benore - we realized we were doing PECS a bit wrong. I realized I wasn't doing it "normal" per se; however, Dr Benore explained the actual logic behind PECS and why it worked the way it did. Mr Awesome and I quickly decided we needed a crash course in how to actually train Ayden to use PECS effectively and as a communication tool.
It was not difficult in the least to find information online about each phase/level of PECS and how to implement/train for each step as well as what needed to be accomplished (and why) before moving onto the next phase. Ayden has a lot of the groundwork in place from the simple exchange he has been doing at school, but we decided we needed to start from scratch at home to be sure the process behind it was cemented for Ayden. Our main goal is to have him communicating independantly and these steps insure that to happen.
Phase I focuses on the physical exchange. We want Ayden by the end of this phase to pick up a picture, reach toward a communication partner, and release the picture into the partner's hand to receive a desired item. He's doing this at school fairly effectively, so it is really a short phase for us. The key things are to use a variety of items, no verbal prompts to get him to give us the picture, and reinforce with complete sentences what he wants after giving us the picture. For example "You want a car!" when he gives us a picture of a car. Phase I is completed when he is consistently exchanging a picture to receive a desired item.
We have been working Phase I for a week with Ayden now. He really understood this after the first couple training sessions (which sound a lot more "school-like" then they actually are because he's just playing, really). I believe we are now ready to move onto Phase II - and not even into the summer yet! (though our temperatures really say otherwise). Phase II is all about increasing spontaneity and we will be implementing the book in this phase as well (a place for him to keep his picture cards, build sentences etc) - so I have a bit to get ready for.
The key thing we need to keep working on with Ayden which is not specifically written into the steps of PECS, but I think is kind of "understood" (and this is part of his IEP as well) is to initiate "conversation" by getting the person's attention appropriately. I think we will be working on tapping on the person he wants attention from, though we have not decided for sure. Essentially, we need this queue to be either verbal, or physical so he can gain attention when someone is not looking at him. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them!