Adapted PECS Sentence Strip

Categories: Resources

The Picture Exchange Communication System is a form of augmentative and alternative communication. Well, that’s a mouth full, hugh. Basically it’s a way for individuals to communicate using pictures. This is commonly used for children with autism. Several of my students use this system to communicate in the classroom. There is a specific format to teach PECS to students.

  1. First you teach single picture – the student hands one picture to receive a desired item.
  2. Next, move the communication book or adult to new locations to teach persistence.
  3. Teach discrimination between more than one picture.
  4. Sentence strip – using the “I want” picture on a sentence strip with the requested item.
  5. Responding to “What do you want?” with the sentence strip fluently.
  6. Teaching commenting using pictures.
Recently I have had 2 of my students really get stuck on the sentence strip step. They both really have trouble identifying the “I want” picture. Both students can differentiate between a few preferred items but the “I want” picture is really giving them trouble. One student engages in self injurious behavior (head hitting) related to communication frustrations so I typically do not push him too much regarding this. But I really did want him to learn the “I want” picture.
I decide to create an adapted “I want” picture to make it stand out more. The student was having issues discriminating so provided additional visual prompts would help him  distinguish the picture.
I made one version with a yellow “I want” picture and a yellow background spot on the sentence strip.
I also made a purple triangle “I want” picture – this was for my student who was really struggling. He has done SO well with this. I plan on fading out the purple and triangle shape slowly so ideally eventually he will be responding to the “I want” icon instead of the color and shape.



 Check out my video tutorial:

Here is a free download of this adapted sentence strip if you have a student this may work with!


  1. What a great idea!! We have done similar thing for some of our students!! We also use a lot of core vocabulary with PECS for communication!

  2. Thanks Whitney 🙂

  3. This is a great idea,I can use this in my classroom.


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