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Learning Disability Week 2024: Do you understand me?

Learning Disability Week 2024: Do you understand me?

Learning Disability Week 2024: Do you understand me?

Tuesday 18 June, 2024

Learning Disability Week is underway and Tuesday’s topic is “Do you understand me?”, focusing on the power of communication. To mark the day we visited our Sheffield Outreach Service where we deep dived into all thing’s communication.

A handful of people we support in Sheffield use Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to communicate. PECS is a functional communication system that encourages people to use cards with pictures, symbols, words or photographs to communicate and is a way for people to express their choices without relying on speech.

At Real Life Options we believe everyone is unique and communicates in a way that is meaningful to them. Staff at our Sheffield Day Centre work closely with people we support to champion their needs and aspirations. Part of using PECS effectively is based on knowledge and experience of working with people we support and knowing their own individual vocabulary. Gary Lancaster, Service Manager at Sheffield Day Centre says, “PECS is great but it has its limitations, it’s limited by the number of pictures people can choose from which is why it works best when it’s implemented with other things such as eye contact and body language. It’s working with their staff teams who know people we support well that makes PECS so effective.” Our staff team in Sheffield have worked with people we support for a long time which gives them better insight into people’s individual vocabulary, helping them to get the most out of PECS.

Gary says, “The overriding thing with PECS is that it’s tailored to people’s individual needs and is all about being person centred.” Although typically PECS are used for small day to day choices, these small choices are key to promoting the independence of people we support at our Sheffield Day Centre, and ensuring their voices are heard.


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