I use the Picture Exchange Communication System / PECS® with both my boys. My 6 year old is non-verbal and PECS® is his main communication method. My 4 year old is speaking but has little social communication so we are using PECS® to support him to extend his speech and try and introduce more social communication.
One thing all parents struggle with is teaching our kids to understand the word no. I found it particularly difficult with my eldest so when PECS UK offered me the chance to review the new Universal NO Page I jumped at the chance. PECS UK have kindly gifted me two Universal NO Pages in exchange for this honest review. All words and opinions are my own.
Saying No to a child using PECS
When a child is struggling with speech and language we need to use motivational items to help encourage speech. For my eldest at first this was mostly either chocolate or the IPAD. As a parent I was so conflicted between wanting and needing to support his speech development but also not letting my 2 year old eat chocolate all day.
In the early stages of PECS we are encouraged to honour requests as much as possible. However there are many reasons we have to say no. It could be that the item is just not available like my youngest asking for his trampoline (in our garden) when he is at nursery. It could be that we want to say no to having ice cream straight after they have already had one. So we find ourselves having to say no.
I found it so hard in the beginning when I would say no, knowing full well that my son didn’t understand the word. It is very hard to do and there were times that I felt I was constantly saying no which is heart-breaking when you are trying so desperately to engage with your child. However I have learnt that being consistent makes all the difference and one day the understanding of no just clicks.
I have used several different ways to say no visually with my kids. I have made see through cards to go over our PECS cards and used basic no cards along with Makaton. All too varying degrees of success. I was really keen to see how my kids got on with the new PECS Universal NO Page.
The PECS Universal No Page
Designed for the small and large PECS Communication Books the Universal NO Page is a place to put pictures of items that are unavailable. Once the item is available again it would be moved back to its usual place.
You can purchase individual pages or sets of five. We have the large page which costs £5.40 individually or £23.48 for a set of five. Each page comes with two strips of hook fasteners (like Velcro). It is exactly the same as the pages we already have in our PECS Communication Book except that it is white and has the no symbol on it.
It is very easy to start using straight away. All you need to do is apply the two strips of hook fasters on either side of the no symbol.
How we got on with the PECS Universal NO Page
In the early days of using PECS I made the mistake of taking pictures away that we didn’t have or I didn’t want my son to ask for. This was a big mistake and you should never remove pictures from PECS book. We need to give our kids the opportunity to ask for the things they want even if the answer is no. We all hear no many times a day so it is an important concept to learn.
At home we leave the PECS books on the kitchen table so I decided to leave the Universal NO Page out on the table at first. Each time the boys asked for something they couldn’t have I would say no and show them as I place the card on the Universal NO Page. I was surprised how well they both responded. I guess it helps that they understand no (I do say it a lot now). However I do think I have better responses from them when using it because it is such a clear visual. I do find when a child picks up a word we naturally tend to drop the constant use of that visual. However particularly for my eldest (who also has auditory processing issues) we need to always provide that visual confirmation.
Since the boys have taken to it so well we have added the Universal NO Page to their PECS books. It is a really easy way to say no for a PECS user as the page just sits within the communication book. I just wish it had been available when we were going through the teaching no phase.
Discount Offer for PECS Universal No Page
You can purchase the PECS Universal NO Page from their online store:
I would love to hear how others get on with the Universal NO Page along with any stories about saying No in the comments below.