20 August 2011

Goodbye, PECS Book.



We got this beautiful PECS book when Woodjie was absolutely non-verbal and added to it over time. How it works is this: take several of these little velcro-backed pictures (called PECS) and pop them on the cover. I've organized them on different sheets: foods, toys, places to go, things to do (painting, play-doh), routine items (go to bed, eat, brush teeth). Woodjie can make a choice (for example, to play with bubbles!) and hand it to you. I know, you're saying to yourself, "If he can pick a choice from the board and hand it to you, shouldn't he be able to say the word?" and I'd have to answer, not necessarily. It's also useful to "show" the person you're communicating with what is going on.
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Woodjie used this to make breakfast and lunch choices (sandwich or bagel? and so on) and communicate some of his needs for a long time. I was cleaning because Woodjie's preschool teacher was coming over and I wanted to pretend that the house is usually neat, and I got a bit overzealous: with Patrick's help, I cleaned out and COMPLETED ALL THE PUZZLES IN THE HOUSE. While I was finding odd pieces here and there in my cabinet, I came across this book. Still in new condition, all lost and forgotten.
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I cried. You know... for so long, I thought this book or something like it would be a part of our lives forever. And it isn't. I took out the "go home" PECS with our house pictured and other personal items, and gave it away last week.
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It was my privilege and honour to give it to someone who was instrumental in getting Woodjie to talk. Ms. "P" runs the "communication classroom" (code for: autism room) at the local public preschool. When Woodjie began school at age three, he knew three words: ball, no, and more. He can now say short sentences such as, "I see a animals." Hey, I never said his grammar was great. I just said he can talk. Every word is precious.
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Because Ms. "P" works in a "communication classroom," she will be able to give it to a family that can REALLY use it. :)

8 comments:

  1. People take communication for granted, don't they? I'm sure you have worked a lot with Woodjie for him to get where he is. Because of who you are, I'm sure he'll go much farther.

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  2. What a fantastic book. How old was Woodjie when you began working with him using it and how long before he was able to indicate choices with it?? So interesting how the Autistic mind works.

    Yay that you were able to pass along such a great learning tool. :)

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  3. Go Woodjie!

    [because Woodjie's preschool teacher was coming over and I wanted to pretend that the house is usually neat] Parenting in a fishbowl. I might need a visit from someone so I can clean my house. ;o)

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  4. Thank you, Brains!

    Blondee, he started this book at about 2 and this is a picture of the earlier stages. Eventually all the spaces were filled in and more pages were added. It didn't take him more than a week or so to make choices with it consistently.

    Julie, I'd like your parenting in a fishbowl days to be way over...

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  5. My daughter is also 4.5, and started using PECS at age two. She does not use them anymore, but I can't bear to get rid of them yet. I'm rarely superstitious, but I just feel like we should hold on to them. Maybe your post can inspire me to let go...

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  6. My child started talking at 27 months and we never used PECS, but now at age 6 we have started using them, not for language so much, but for his behavior problems like waiting and accepting no. For some reason when you show him the visual PECS on a scedual type thing it can help him wait for things. We would use them for telling him first we are going to do one thing, Then the thing that is hard to wait for.

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  7. I've never known or needed one of these books, but I think they're a great idea. Anything that fosters communication in any way is a great idea.

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  8. Oh, Mrs. C! I am so happy for you! I know it can be bittersweet to finally get past these hurdles, but so wonderful you don't need it anymore.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)