Before the intervention, replacement preference assessment was conducted to identify reinforcers for each participant. Seven items were selected for each participant based on parent and teacher report. At the beginning of each session, the participant was given the opportunity to sample each of the seven items for approximately 30s. The participant was allowed to consume edible items and engage in free play with tangible items. After this, the participants received instruction on the first three phases of PECS. In each phase, the participant was given 15 s to respond. If the participant did not respond, the instructor will physically prompt her to reach for and pick up the icon, then put the icon into the hand of the instructor.
Before the social skills intervention was implemented, each peer was taught how to respond to the participant. A social skills training package was used to teach social skills to the participants. Following baseline, participants were taught to use PECS to interact with their peers. Situations within the educational setting were designed to maximize opportunities for communication between the participant and peer using items that were highly reinforcing for the participants. The participants were prompted to interact with their peers in these situations where the peer had access to the participant’s preferred items. 3 different social skills were identified in the intervention. The participants were taught to greet, request and respond. For example for requesting, they were taught to request something from their peers. A social validity were given to the teachers and parents. This is to assess their perception of the importance and effectiveness of the intervention.
Tulla’s teachers noted that she interacted more with her peer, communication was clearer and made more sentences. Whereas London’s mother noted that she was more patient while waiting for her reinforcement and would like to teach her more skills using PECS. In addition to these, both participants were able to greet appropriately, make requests and respond appropriately within a short period.
Personally, I have used PECS previously with my other students. I find it to be especially helpful to those who are not really interested in interacting with anyone. This intervention help these students to start an interaction by giving them a picture. By utilizing PECS, you can regularly take a child with no intrigued in other individuals and get them to the point where they suddenly start an interaction. This can be a gigantic to begin with step for children with ASD who were already uninterested in communicating. Regularly, once they see the control of this communication, they are more open to attempting other shapes of communication.
Cannella-Malone, H. I., Fant, J. L., & Tullis, C. A. (2009). Using the Picture Exchange Communication System to Increase the Social Communication of Two Individuals with Severe Developmental Disabilities. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 22(2), 149-163. doi:10.1007/s10882-009-9174-4