Online training to support my kids with PECS UK

Lady on laptop waving

As we start to get used to living life in isolation during the current Covid-19 pandemic a new part of my life is Zoom. I am not sure I had even heard of Zoom 3 weeks ago. I have now used it several times to interact online.

For the past two evenings I have been attending an online workshop on a parents guide to managing challenging behaviour. It was delivered by PECS® UK who kindly gifted me a place due to our ongoing relationship. For those unfamiliar see my posts relating to the Picture Exchange Communication System. So I am going to share a bit about the workshop and the experience of doing it online with you.

Workshops and training online

I like to attend training courses, workshops and exhibitions related to autism, communication and SEN. I have two young autistic children both with significant communication challenges. My full time role is mum and the reality is I need training and advice from experts to be a better mum and support my boys as much as possible.

However as a full time mum (youngest is 4 so not yet in school) with a husband at work 9-5 I don’t often get the time to attend courses and workshops that are available. Travel is often a big issue, particularly when my kids were smaller and I really needed the training. So when PECS UK got in touch to say they were going to continue their workshops online and did I want to try one I said yes straight away.

Online training to support my kids with PECS UK,

Over the last couple of weeks I have been used to zoom for meetings and catch ups with friends. It has been great to interact with people outside my house even if it does mean putting make up on again. I am also looking forward to attending the Bristol Autism Support Zoom catch up next week. The major benefit of not having to travel is access to the topic you need at a convenient time.

A Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviour for Parents

The PECS UK Guide to Managing Challenging Behaviours for Parents online Training took place across two evenings. From 6-9.30PM which worked out well for me as my husband was happy to put the kids to bed. Registration was easy and a delegate pack with the slides was sent out in advance.

Challenging behaviour workshop flyer

I have attended the PECS level 1 training before and worked with PECS consultants in the past. I knew the session would be professional and actually helpful.

A parents guide to managing challenging behaviour

As it was a small workshop with 5 attendees this allowed us to interact and have discussion time. There were three PECS consultants also in the sessions. One who led the sessions (an experienced SEN teacher) and two others that supported (specialists in behaviour analysis and speech and language). They were all incredibly professional whilst being friendly and relatable at the same time. They all knew the topic well and could easily answer questions or offer advice on the specific issues raised.

The course covered:

  • creating supportive learning environments;
  • identifying behaviours that require intervention;
  • identifying the functional control of the behaviour;
  • developing a behaviour plan; &
  • assessing the effectiveness of an intervention.

We had the opportunity to discuss particular behaviours we were finding challenging with our own kids. These were then discussed as we went through the training. On the first evening we covered the Pyramid Approach to Education and the importance of functional communication that is meaningful and relevant.

The Pyramid Approach to Education

We discussed that behaviour is contextually inappropriate rather than inappropriate. Analysis of why the behaviour is happening and finding the right strategies to reduce or replace the contextually inappropriate behaviour.

We looked at functional behaviour assessments using the ABC format. This is looking at the antecedent, behaviour and consequence and is similar to the STAR process I have used in the past. We discussed the process of collecting information on behaviour on the first evening to give us a chance to try it the next day. Then on the second evening we discussed how we got on and how we can use the strategy moving forward. I found this a good reminder of the importance of stepping back and looking more objectively at behaviour. Something I think many of us parents struggle to do because it is so emotionally involved for us.

The session also covered finding functionally equivalent alternative behaviours. Strategies we discussed included making a deal with visual reinforcement, teaching how to request breaks (something we need to work on with my eldest) and other critical communication skills alongside the importance of fun and powerful motivation which includes praise.

Was it useful?

Yes it was really useful, most of the concepts I was already familiar with but it is so important to go over them with experts with the opportunity to ask questions related to our current circumstances. It provided me with the confidence that I have the right strategies to support my kids and more understanding of how to better implement them.

Some further sheets and information we had discussed were sent round to attendees afterwards. I also received a certificate to prove my attendance.

I am used to sitting in front of my computer so the format was easy for me. The sessions had been well split between talking to slides, videos and discussions. We also had a 15 minute break in the middle. The only irritation was both my cats wanting to sit in front of my screen!

I have sat through many online sessions where after half an hour you realise its a bit of a waste of time. The person doesn’t know what they are talking about or doing. So it was really great to have three professionals delivering useful content.

Both my boys get DLA funding and we try to use a proportion of this to cover training for my husband and I. We will always be a constant for our kids and the more equipped we are to support them the better. I know how hard it is to decide how best to use limited funds to support our kids. However I would genuinely recommend workshops and training offered by PECS UK.

Support at home from PECS UK

PECS are doing what they can to adapt their services now they are working from home. They have created a support at home page on their website. It includes resources, ideas and information about upcoming workshops / training. I have just spotted a new idea on there for a movement scavenger hunt which I might try out tomorrow. Here is the link:

Man using laptop

There are a number of online sessions coming up. A great opportunity for those of us that usually struggle to attend in person.

Have you been on a workshop or training session with PECS UK before? How did you find it? Have you been using zoom or other online interaction platforms?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Was this article helpful?


  1. Alison Morley
    16th April 2020 / 5:34 pm

    I would love to do this! I have seen some great looking courses that have interested me recently. However I’m frustrated that I can’t join in as I have no way of doing so whilst my children are around. I wonder if there could be a way of signing up to these things and watching later? (a bit like catch up tv) I realise that people wouldn’t be able to interact in the same way of course but at least we could still access some of the helpful content. Thanks for the pecs link…bookmarked!

    • admin
      16th April 2020 / 6:11 pm

      Thanks Alison I know what you mean and that is a great idea about being able to access later. I think they hope to share a free talk next week on YouTube afterwards so if that happens I will make sure I share it.

  2. 19th April 2020 / 1:08 am

    Not in the UK but I think any study is good for the soul at the moment. I’m doing a Uni course on history online since lockdown and I really look forward to the intellectual engagement. #KCACOLS

    • admin
      19th April 2020 / 7:20 am

      That sounds great. It is so important to keep our brains working out too. Enjoy the history course, I bet it will be really interesting I love history.

  3. joarosetintedworld
    19th April 2020 / 8:53 am

    This sounds like a great course. Zoom has really helped during this pandemic! #KCACOLS

    • admin
      19th April 2020 / 8:54 am

      It really has and hopefully we can all utilise it better in the future too.

  4. 22nd April 2020 / 7:35 pm

    Oh I really love the sound of this course, I do have a degree and would love to return to learning. Thank you for joining us for #kcacols and we hope to see you next time.

  5. 23rd April 2020 / 3:16 pm

    I like the fact that many places/organisations are offering online workshops and seminars.
    That’s the only way that I am able to attend many of them.
    The pyramid approach is interesting. I had not heard of it.

    • admin
      23rd April 2020 / 3:20 pm

      It is great. I really hope things continue to be offered this way in future too.

  6. 24th April 2020 / 10:44 am

    This sounds really useful -it’s been so tough being at home with the kids, and work and trying to homeschool. i feel like ive failed at everything/ #kcacols

  7. 4th May 2020 / 9:43 pm

    Oh wow I’ll have to look into that. We’re huge fans of pecs uk and anything that can support behaviour and emotions would be great for us x

    • admin
      4th May 2020 / 9:47 pm

      I think they have some more sessions coming up so hopefully there is one you can make 😊

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