How to Create a PECs Board for a Child with Autism

By Christy Fix
Children with autism also can suffer from language delays.
Children with autism also can suffer from language delays.

Children with autism often suffer from language delays, making it difficult for them to express their needs. PECS boards can be used to provide these children with a way to communicate. PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System and consists of images that represent objects and concepts. Although the PECS name belongs to Pyramid Educational Consultants, it has become a widely-used term to refer to these images. Whether you choose official PECS images or create your own, this system can create a means for you to communicate with your autistic child.

Prepare PECS Images

Cut your PECS images with a square border.
Cut your PECS images with a square border.

Cut the PECS printout into individual images. Keep a square border around each image for easier handling. The cutouts don't have to be perfect squares but should be close in size to each other.

Place as many images as you can on a self-laminating sheet. Arrange the images 1/4 inch from each other. This will allow room to cut between the pictures while leaving enough laminate to seal the paper.

Seal the laminate, as per the manufacturer's directions. Avoid air bubbles by working slowly. It's normal for some air bubbles to occur. Press them out as best as you can and continue.

Cut out the images. Leave a clear border of at least 1/8 inch around them. This clear border is where the laminating sheet sticks to itself, creating a seal.

Whatever the color, hook-and-loop fasteners are important in this project.
Whatever the color, hook-and-loop fasteners are important in this project.

Apply 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch squares of hook-and-loop fasteners to the back of each image. The hook side is preferable, as it will grab at other materials should the images be used in other settings, such as at school.

Assembling the Board

Measure and cut the loop side of the fastener to match the length of the white board. Repeat until you have four or more rows, as appropriate to your child's needs.

Locate the largest laminated square in the pile. Use this square's measurement as the minimum distance between the rows of loop fasteners. If the rows are any closer to each other, the images may overlap, making it difficult for a child with limited dexterity to move the pictures around the board. With the laminated square as your guide, use a pencil to mark the distance between the rows on the board.

Apply the loop fastener tape lengthwise on the board. When creating rows, follow your pencil markings to keep the rows spaced correctly.

Hang the white board in a location that's easy for the child to access.

Her new PECS board can help her communicate her needs.
Her new PECS board can help her communicate her needs.

Stick the laminated images to the rows. Arrange as desired.

Things You Will Need

  • Printout of PECS images
  • Scissors
  • Self-laminating sheets
  • 15 feet of hook-and-loop fasteners with adhesive backing
  • Large white board
  • Pencil

Tip

Create your own images by taking photos of familiar objects. Also take photos of family members and friends who are present in your child's life. Add wording under each image to help build reading and comprehension skills. Some sensory-seeking children will enjoy the sound and action of sticking and unsticking the fasteners. Set limits early if this occurs with too much frequency.

Warning

Watch out for sharp corners on the laminated sheets. You can round the corners to reduce the chances of it scratching or cutting your child's skin.

About the Author

Christy Fix is based in the Chicago, Ill. area. Her first articles were published when she was in middle school and she has progressed from there. A member of a professional writers' chapter, she is pursuing a writing career.