Oh certified PECS trainer.......

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by bethechange, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 11, 2010

    .......or anyone else with ideas about this? :)

    I've got a new 4th grader this year and he seems to be "sort of" trained in PECS. By this I mean he will independently make requests when prompted with "what do you want?" He is used to leaving his book in one place, and requires direction to go to his book before making a request. He also hates, hates, HATES to be touched or to have people stand too close to him, and he hates having things pointed at. I've only worked with him for a week, but he seems so far very verbally prompt dependent. He can read well, so I've made some color-coded cue cards for "get your communication book" and "what do you want?" I've also got a written checklist at his independent work station and on his schedule book that says, "get your communication book."

    Any further ideas on how to work on initiation, and taking his book with him?

    Also, I would appreciate ideas for teaching low kids how to take their books with them/use in situations that are less structured. My kids are rock stars at using PECS in snack, choice time/leisure, even some group stuff (commenting, etc.) but the hurdle we can't seem to get over is using them in novel situations. Its like they don't get that they can.

    Also. I'm sort of kicking around the idea of combining schedule/PECS book for my 4th grader, for the simple fact of him not having to carry around 2 binders everywhere. He's already used to portable visual schedule, so this seems to make sense. Any thoughts on whether this is a good/bad idea and why?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 15, 2010

    Bump. Psssssssssssssst. SK. (or others!!)
     
  4. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Sep 16, 2010

    Not any help... initiation is always the thing my kids struggle with, too!

    But a bump for somenoe with more experience :)
     
  5. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 16, 2010

    bethechange-

    Do you have the PECS manual in your classroom? (Or in your district/from speech office?)

    Phase II explicitly teaches this skill - even before discrimination! PECS has such a focus on INITIATION and if teachers/therapists skip this phase because of whatever reason, the child ends up missing out on the initiation piece (which is pretty much the underlying concept of PECS!)

    I would advise you to go back to Phase II- where you slowly introduce the concept of retrieving the book.

    If you do not have access to the manual, I can outline some of the steps here. Although the child is "past" Phase II in a sense that he can request using more than one icon (I want + R+, etc.) - the initiation piece is so huge and it's OK to go back to teach this skill.

    When kids come to me without this skill, I immediately go back to re-teach this Phase. Usually works out well!
     
  6. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 16, 2010

    Oh, and I don't see a problem with using the last page of the PECS book for a visual schedule. As long as your student understands this is the schedule page, that shouldn't be an issue. I have had a few kids who I've done this for before.
     
  7. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 17, 2010

    OK, update. Definitely working on reteaching initiation with everyone. In my previous position, this was really hard to work on consistenly, as I was case managing 18 kids, running an autism room and doing push-in support, and rarely, if ever, had access to 2 adults at once. Already seeing a difference with most of my kids after just 2 weeks of this.

    Here's where I'm kind of stumped though: one of my kids very much dislikes being touched or having things pointed at. He doesn't like people "in his space" or anywhere remotely near it. If you start to get close to him, or behind him, you need to tell him what you are doing. "I'm not touching you - I'm getting the pencil I dropped," etc. Otherwise he freaks out that you are going to touch him. So prompting from behind to initiate is completely out. He also hates pointing, and if you point at anything, (index finger, whole hand, whatever) he perseverates on it, "I don't want point, I don't want point," etc. I'm having a hard time finding unobtrusive, effective prompting for getting him to retreive his book. Right now I'm using color-coded cue cards, "_________, get your communication book," which I plan to fade to just colored slips of paper. But I kind of have to walk in front of him to show him those. Any other ideas for better/more clear/easier to fade prompts? I think in his previous setting he was used to having the book in one place all the time and being prompted to use it - and he seems to have really rigid patterns of thought that are proving hard to change.
     
  8. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 18, 2010

    bethechange-
    For your kid who doesn't like people "in his space" - Would he respond to a "wave" (I'm thinking crossing guard style) in the general direction? I feel this would be less intrusive than a visual cue - and more natural. (But if it doesn't work, can see how a visual cue would be more effective in order to avoid the perseveration).

    If he has had PECS training in the past, it is likely that the "distance and persistence" skill was skipped due to his inability to tolerate physical and gesture prompting..

    I would try some basic training in the way of finding his book, with a gesture (crossing guard style- waving arms) prompt. Perhaps you get his most motivating reinforcer out and entice... give him a freebie. Then have his book directly in front of him so he can access it to request that item. Then you move a little further away with the item, but he can still see his book. If he starts to come towards you, you can just gesture/point to his book in the other direction. (Gets tricky if he doesn't respond to this, as then he would need the physical prompt - from someone else so you don't have to move locations - to go to the book...) -- Anyway, try moving further and further away as you see success. You can also have another teacher/aide move his book further from him. Obviously, only move it further as you see success. But, if you start small, you should be able to make adequate gains in this area - as he will have the practice opportunities to seek out his book when necessary.

    Also, when it's time to leave the classroom, I would simply walk over to his book and look at it. Could you have a cue on the door that says "Get your comm. book" that he must tap on the way out?

    We have something on my door that says "I have my words!" and "I don't have my words." with corresponding pictures. The kids move their picture from the "I don't have my words" to the "I have my words!" side after they retrieve their books. This works well. My kids are awesome with remembering their books because they know this is how they get what they want.

    Is your student high enough to understand that if he doesn't have his words with him, he can't request stuff? I would start making motivating things an option outside of his work area or outside of the classroom. Maybe have kids request a treat in the gym or in music, and this way, he might make the connection that in order to get the treat outside of the classroom he must have his words... (?)

    Does his book have a strap on it? Is he using a true PECS book? If he is not, you may want to consider either purchasing a true PECS book (with the D-clips and a strap) so that it is portable - OR - jerry rigging (sp?) your own strap onto his current book. I think sometimes the kids forget the books because it's just a pain to carry it around. My kids are so good with their books and I think the strap really helps this. I've also seen people use lanyards to attach to a binder to create a makeshift portability option.

    I think your best bet would be to make communication motivating (extravagantly so!) so that he will be motivated to go "find those words" of his. Make sense? I am sure you do this on a daily basis - but maybe taking it up a knotch during this "training phase" will help him get the picture. (If he loves Donuts, bring them in and only give them to him when he gets his book without prompting, etc.)

    I think the visual cue is a good idea - but I would recommend that you have a very systematic plan in place for fading that out - and even then I am not sure if he will be able to remember to get his book without the cue. BUT given the difficulties, that's probably the route that I would think of as next best to physical and gestural prompting.
     
  9. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 18, 2010

    Down the road, I would create some sort of lanyard or other portable wallet/etc. that your student could have on him at all times - so the most crucial communicative needs can be met, even when his book is not directly next to him. This is best left to when he DOES remember the book, though, because you don't want him getting lazy before he learns the skill of carrying his book everywhere).
     
  10. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 18, 2010

    Thanks for helping me with this. I do have cards taped to his desk, work with teacher, etc. that say, "get your book" - but so far, I have to be pretty obvious about prompting with the visual to get him to notice. And also was concerned with fading, etc. I will try the crossguard wave on Monday, haha. Maybe I should get one of the safety patrol belts and flags... I have a feeling that the crossguard wave will be viewed as a "point," but you never know!

    I also haven't yet figured out anything he is over the moon excited for - so that makes it harder - but we'll keep trying. He's a super passive kid - except when you get near him!

    I LOVE the idea of having an "I have my words" visual on the door. I'm so going to do that for all of my kids. We have a structured gym time every day, so that will be a great opportunity to practice. I already added the gym visuals (basketball, soccer ball, bike, etc.), so hopefully those will be motivating.

    Thank you!
     

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