Earlier this year, Pyramid founders and PECS developers, Andy Bondy and Lori Frost, visited the Saplings School in Poznan, Poland and were presented with a lovely book made by the parents and staff thanking them for PECS and describing the incredible impact PECS has had on their children's lives. We love it so much we decided to share!
I'm a foster parent living in Galway (West Ireland). Last year I took this course (PECS Basic Training) along with teachers at our foster child’s new school – He (James, my foster son) is coming on fantastically with it, words cannot describe the incredible positive difference PECS has brought to his and our lives.
I could never find the words to explain the difference PECS made to our wee man and our family - he joined our family in April last year coming from an extremely neglected start in life. He was 6yrs, deaf, diagnosed with severe autism. As well as being left with no communication at all, he had also been forced to wear nappies all his entire life and feed only on crisps, custard creams and yogurts so he was just 4% on growth chart and had a disjointed hip (which actually turned out to be James twisting his leg around the other leg so he could hold in from soiling on himself). He was in such a cocoon of pain and frustration he had no eye contact and as mentioned absolutely no way to communicate: we were told that maybe he would never learn communication. I took the PECS course and taught him this last summer, he was unbelievably quick.
The first time he ran into the house, opened his book, gave me the PEC for 'sausage', took my hand and led me to the stove I cried and cried, I would have made him a bucket of sausages! - I'm still crying now when I think about that moment. Using PECS had brought such motivation, confidence, sense of self empowerment and calmness to James that his eye contact had gone from approx 10% to now almost 100% at home and maybe 70% at his new school (what a fight it was to get him accepted into a school here!)
James not only gave me purpose but also taught me not to compare present life to the past; he has taught me so much about my own self being and brought so much to our family. In having to find the strength and courage to stand up and fight for what I knew was right for him, I had to find my own voice (another gift James has given me)!
PECS was the foundation of so many things that has helped us bring James to where he is now. He was once also diagnosed with Attachment Disorder and would hit himself or others if they came near him. Now he stands very strong, funny, playful, aware, connected and loves to be held, touched, snuggled, tickled and loved.
The power of positivity goes a lot further than negativity.
Thank you once more - I'll never stop thanking you!
Great workshop! I cannot wait to get back to my classroom, this workshop made me so excited for this school year and getting a chance to work with my kids and introduce them to PECS!>
Great examples of "real life" experiences!
(Town & Country, MD- SLP)
I really enjoyed this training -> it will help me immensely in working with my students with severe autism.
(Town & Country, MD - SpEd Teacher ABA Classroom)
I have been through multiple PECS trainings hosted by Pyramid. I learn new concepts, strategies and research every single time!! This experience was well worth my time, I highly recommend it!
(Town & Country, MD - SLP)
I really enjoyed how thorough the presenters were. Also I appreciate their knowledge of various problems that can and often do arise within teaching sessions. An excellent workshop and very informative!
(Jacksonville, FL - Teacher)
What excellent speakers! I look forward to following the protocol with integrity. My entire understanding of PECS has broadened. Thank you!
Great presentation and wonderful organization of handouts. Two day workshops are hard to deliver and your consultants have it down to an ART!
(Jacksonville, FL, Specialist for D/HH Program)
Awesome workshop! One of the BEST courses I've been to in years!
What a great team Pyramid has! Patient, persistent and peppy are just a few of the qualities that stood out, as well as a wonderful mastery presented by each consultant. They had a great ability to touch base with all of the participants. I learned so much! I really liked the continual emphasis that the Pyramid Approach teaches how to initiate communication with each student from the beginning! I also loved that emphasis on 'life preparation', thanks!
Great conference, I now feel ready to implement this at my school. I loved the hands on practice and demonstrations, pace and materials which were all conductive to a wonderful learning experience!
This was probably the most interesting AND helpful workshop I have ever been to! (Jacksonville, FL-SLP)
The consultant was very informative and encouraging; she made the phases look very user friendly. I loved the hands on approach!
(Silsbee, TX - Special Education Teacher)
I wish this could be MANDATED for all PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) classrooms!
(Silsbee, TX - SpEd Life Skills Teacher)
I really appreciate the video examples showing the "lower" functioning learners. A lot of times workshops only focus on "high" functioning students which make teaching look so easy and perfect. Thanks for mixing the variety!
I really enjoyed the videos from all of the different countries. Even though I couldn't understand what was being said, it was easy to see that the PECS lesson is universal! Amazing!
(Victoria, TX - SLP)
WOW! Just wanted to let you know that I recently had the opportunity to participate in the PECS Basic Training. I've worked in public and private settings for more than 30 years and have participated in many workshops, seminars and in-services. The PECS training taught by Jo-Anne Matteo and Anne Hoffman was one of the best trainings in which I've ever been involved. Their individual and combined knowledge and presentations were superb, exciting, informative and inspirational. These presenters worked hard every second of the two day presentation. They were consistently patient, upbeat and available. Thank you for such quality presenters!
-Susan Montgomery, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
“Phenomenal!!! Anne (Hoffman) was so engaging & nice knowledgeable and approachable. Gave info in such an organized manner. I would recommend this training to anyone interested in learning.”
-Anonymous participant from a Pyramid Approach Training
"Basically, PECS has allowed individuals with autism to effectively communicate when other means of communication training have failed. The significance of this fact cannot be overstated."
–Laura Schriebman, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of California, San Diego
Dear Dr. Castrogiovanni,
I would like to thank you again for the great conference. My colleagues (SLP, SPED preschool teacher) and I (ABA specialist) learned a lot. Our discussions (during sessions - oops), and over lunch and dinner outside of the conference allowed us to plan to launch the PECS program. Thanks for reminding us to start with one of our easier students, that tip came in handy when we were planning.
Also I wanted to thank you for the manner in which you shared your knowledge. What a gift you have for explaining and making accessible some very typically complexly described concepts. I have been practicing ABA for over 30 years and I have a master's degree that is strictly in ABA (from Northeastern). I think that I learned as much (maybe even more) than my colleagues about applied behavior analysis.
Although I didn't think of it when we filled out our feedback forms, I would love to attend a workshop designed to teach participants how to start and manage public school special education classrooms that are solidly and indisputably based on ABA theory. You know, one of those classrooms that will stand up to the scrutiny of outside consultants and hearing officers.
I mentioned at the conference that in comparison to the last 10 years of conferences I have attended yours was the best! Well actually, the Simmons College conference I attended last year was good too, so was a talk ____ ____ did at _____. But, aside from that I have listened to the same boring stuff for 10 years. So thank you!!!
Please keep me on Pyramid's email list!!!!
All the best,
I can't tell you enough how much I am learning while working towards the Implementers certificate. It has been a journey, but a very good one!!
- Nancy Benson (Speech & Language Assistant)- Lloydminster, Sask
Stories from Parents and teachers
"PECS changed Paul’s life. Sounds drastic, but it was. For years Paul made no progress with written, expressive or receptive language. He did not imitate sounds, and he was not interested in trying to discriminate sounds. In both cases he would get so frustrated that he would become aggressive. I got my hands on a training manual for PECS, and I integrated the PECS into my son’s home intensive early intervention program. He needed a voice, and PECS gave it to him. There were some sessions where Paul spent three hours requesting one thing after another. That was OK by us! He was happy and communicating with us.
Paul quickly was able to fade the photos and use PECS as a way to learn sight reading. He learned his name, his colors, his numbers, 400 nouns, 50 verbs, sentence structure, complex requesting, commenting, and finally pronouns, with PECS. We were able to use a PECS book or a PECS board to help teach important lessons, as well as help him to follow a visual schedule and to let him have the control of choosing his own reinforcers.
PECS is my son’s voice and has been for more than three years. Paul remains a mostly-nonverbal child who has shown that he can communicate and interact with complexity and humor. When Paul was first tested at the age of three, he scored an IQ of 50. When he was tested again three years later, with the help of PECS, he scored 105. With the help of PECS he could show that he is an intelligent, visually-driven child.
My husband jokes with me by saying, "You sound like Andy Bondy and Lori Frost were Paul’s saviors." I say, "They don’t know it, but in a way they were. If it hadn’t been for their PECS and their belief in children like our son, I am afraid that Paul would be lost."
-Rose Kraft, parent
Hello Dr Andrew Bondy,
My Name is Gloria Cramer . I am the mother of ___ _____ who was a student of DAP in Delaware. I am sending you this email to thank you for all that you have done for my son. He was enrolled in DAP at a tender age of 2 1/2 years of age. I am so proud to inform you that he is now the age of 17 years old and attending _____ High School, which means he is no longer with DAP services. He is doing great.
I also wanted to say that if it was not for you, my son would have been the many few that might of gone misdiagnosed. It was your persistence to have him checked again that made it possible for him to be with DAP. You saw exactly what I saw. That is what I want to thank you so much for, for being so devoted to the autism community. Knowing doctors exist like you there is hope for our kids to have a bright future.
I have enclosed with this email a picture of me and ____. He will be 18 in December and will graduate in 2010 with his high school diploma from ____ high. Would love for you to be there if you could, if not I understand. If there is anything I could ever do for you ever just ask. Oh by the way I'm in Florida and ____ is in Delaware still getting his education but you can reach me at ______. Thank you for your time
Mrs. Gloria Cramer
Dear Dr. Bondy and Ms. Frost,
I am sure that you must hear this all the time, but we wanted to thank you for your work developing PECS. Our three year old son was diagnosed with autism four months ago and started at Bush in the Brandywine School District. His teacher, ______ _____(she is fantastic) and PECS together brought our son out of the dark. I know that you know what I am talking about when I say it has made a huge difference in our family and in the life of our son. Of course, you know that it is always a shock to learn that your child has autism, and it was very difficult to send my three year old 'baby' to school all day. When I first saw your program, I must confess that I was appalled (sorry!) to learn that they were using behavior techniques that I learned for training my dog! (Ever read "Don't Shoot the Dog", a book by a former dolphin trainer; or a book on clicker training your dog?) Anyway, of course I see now that of course the same science is used in both effectively. Thank you for your work; it has changed our lives. Now I am a true believer and we will always be grateful, as are many, many others. If we had to have a child with autism, this is the right time, with your program available. Thank you.
I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the workshop yesterday in Plainview. It's the second time I've heard you speak and each time I come away in awe of how easily you are able to talk about your subject, give valuable tips, use personal anecdotes to teach. All while managing your audience. The time flew by. I could have stayed longer. Thanks so much for making the day well worth my drive from the East End! Hope your journey to N.J. was speedy.
(pink sweater, first row on your right)
Andy & Lori,
Wanted to share a quick story about our son Eric, who is 8 ½ and has autism. We spent 3 months trying to teach Eric to sign and about 2 months on a picture-point system. We took the PECS 2-day workshop around the time Eric was 3. He started at the Sussex Consortium when he was 3 years 2 months. We are fanatics about PECS. It was so wonderful knowing what he wanted. We have made PECS for his 80 Disney videos and his 50 books in the Disney library. In retrospect I think it was part of a subconscious agenda we had to get to 30 exchanges a day. When he gets to 30 a day we get to phase 4. When we get to phase 4 he may talk. At 5 ½ we finally got to 30 exchanges per day and added an "I Want" card followed by a few colors.
After a few months we sort of accepted that he did not talk. Last Monday we got a note from Eric's teacher asking if we could come in and observe new things he has all of a sudden learned to do well. We proudly made the trip over to his school wondering what we would see. We were totally shocked to see/hear Eric talking. During the 20-minute visit he made 5 or 6 exchanges with the sentence strip and read it off totally independently. It still does not seem real. If I had not seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, I would not believe that at 8 years 5 months someone could talk for the first time.
Thanks for all you do for children with autism. I have seen so many children have great success with PECS over the past few years.
John & San Willey
I attended your workshop last Friday in San Francisco (I'm the school psychologist/behavior therapist sitting on your right side of the room).
At the end of the day, when I completed the evaluation I felt that I had enjoyed the day, brushed up on some lesser used skills and terminology, and learned some important new things. But now, as the week goes by and I am again immersed in work, I realize that what you taught me on Friday is already making a profound difference in how I understand and design instruction.
For example, I've been examining the instructional strategies my therapists use with the students (pivotal response training, Natural language paradigm, various discrete trial programs) and trying to figure out what parts of VB are we looking at/expecting, etc. And it comes clear that if we give a child the toy every time he comments on it (e.g. NLP or PRT), we are never getting a pure tact, or that truly "spontaneous commenting".
I have also been using Krantz and McClannahan's work on picture cues and activity schedules, and your ideas on limiting and eliminating prompts glues it all together.
I am generally pleased when I can leave a workshop with a few good ideas to try. But this week I am REJUVINATED!!
A hearty thanks.
Thank you for making the PECS training this weekend in Ashe County so interesting and helpful. I was the mom with three kids with Down syndrome. We have been looking for a way to improve our kids' communication skills, and I think PECS will be an excellent tool for all three of them. My husband, 11-year-old son, and I started our training tonight with my six-year-old son, Benjamin. In ten minutes he had easily mastered Phases 1 and 2 and was chasing us and his communication book all over the house with his picture in hand, smiling the whole time. It was wonderful! On to Phase 3 tomorrow. As a stay-at-home mom, I really like that PECS is easy to implement and focuses on functional skills, rather than just checking things off some list. As a licensed clinical psychologist, I like that it is behaviorally based and utilizes positive reinforcement. I've taught many of my patients to try to catch their kids being good, so I loved hearing that! It is very powerful.
Your enthusiasm and knowledge of the topic made the training both productive and fun! Thanks for working with Kendra to make the training possible, and for putting so much energy into making it a positive experience for all of us!
Anne Margaret Wright, Psy.D.
Thanks for doing it. Our parents are definitely better off, which will make a difference for our kids. You were right, it seems like it was a great couple of days. We had some awesome feedback from a couple of parents regarding the parent training. A couple of the things have been making me laugh all day and I have to share!!
1. Dr. Battaglini was wonderful, like Super Nanny only better!!
2. He made it seem very simple, but it is a very different way of looking at things.
3. He was tough, with a touch of gentle!!!
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