People communicate in all kinds of ways, not just speaking to each other. We communicate by using our body language to roll our eyes and smile to a friend when another person says something goofy. We use stop signs and speed limit signs on our streets to communicate to drivers when to stop and how fast they can go. But what are other ways we can talk directly to one another?


A tray of PECS pieces in our La Crosse Day Services.


Picture Exchange Communication System

The Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS, is communicating through pictures. The person using PECS can communicate a request, thought, or anything that can be symbolized on a picture card. Several studies ( have even shown PECS to help people develop verbal language, lower the rates of tantrums and other behaviors, and increases socialization.

We have many participants who use PECS! One participant who uses PECS is Carrie, who uses PECS to work through her schedule.




Another method of communication is through technology! There are electronic augmentative and alternative communication systems that either supplement or replace speech or writing for people with disabilities.

One of our participants, Cindy, uses a PockeTalker Ultra which uses a set of headphones worn by the participant and the staff speaks into a small microphone attached to a receiver that is hooked up to the headphones. It looks like a Walkman!

Other participants Ben and Travis use a remote microphone system to boost their hearing aids. A staff member wears a small microphone and the receiver worn around the participant’s neck transmits the sound into their hearing aid for increased clarity.

Participants Keith and Patrick utilize iPads for a way of communication.


Keith and Patrick



American Sign Language (ASL)

ASL is a way of communicating through hand gestures, facial expressions, and body posture combinations. ASL and an adapted version of ASL are used at Aptiv as well. Travis uses ASL and another participant, Jason, uses an adapted version to communicate with others. Staff keep a sheet that explain what his hand gestures and what they mean. He uses these different signs because of gross motor limitations, but has adapted ASL to fit what he has to say.



Travis and intern Allison


Many more ways of communication

These ways of communication are only a handful, and there are a ton more ways people communicate with one another. What are some ways that we didn’t talk about? How have you or a loved one used an adaptive form of communication?