Picture Exchange Communication System and Pals: A Peer-Mediated Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention for Minimally Verbal Preschoolers With Autism Purpose This study was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of a social intervention that integrates peer-mediated approaches and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Method Effects were evaluated using a series of A-B designs replicated across 4 children with severe autism and limited verbal skills. Seven peers without ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2016
Picture Exchange Communication System and Pals: A Peer-Mediated Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention for Minimally Verbal Preschoolers With Autism
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kathy Thiemann-Bourque
    University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Nancy Brady
    University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Sara McGuff
    Liberty Public Schools, Liberty, MO
  • Keenan Stump
    New Balloon, Kansas City, MO
  • Amy Naylor
    Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center, Overland Park, KS
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Kathy S. Thiemann-Bourque: thiemann@ku.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Linda Watson
    Associate Editor: Linda Watson×
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2016
Picture Exchange Communication System and Pals: A Peer-Mediated Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention for Minimally Verbal Preschoolers With Autism
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2016, Vol. 59, 1133-1145. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0313
History: Received September 8, 2015 , Revised January 26, 2016 , Accepted March 28, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2016, Vol. 59, 1133-1145. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0313
History: Received September 8, 2015; Revised January 26, 2016; Accepted March 28, 2016

Purpose This study was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of a social intervention that integrates peer-mediated approaches and the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

Method Effects were evaluated using a series of A-B designs replicated across 4 children with severe autism and limited verbal skills. Seven peers without disabilities were trained to use PECS and facilitative social skills. Measures of changes included rates of communication behaviors, modes, functions, and engagement.

Results Outcomes revealed an intervention effect for 1 child with autism, and this effect was replicated across 3 other children. All children improved in peer-directed communication, with greater increases for 2 children during snack time. For each child with autism, the primary communication behavior was to initiate with picture symbols to request; the peer's primary communication was to respond. Two children increased communicative functions to comment and to share, and all 4 children showed improved social engagement. All peers increased their communication with the children with autism.

Conclusions These findings add to the limited research on the benefits of teaching typically developing peers to be responsive listeners to preschoolers with autism by learning to use PECS. These results invite further investigation of teaching peers other augmentative and alternative communication approaches and how to increase children's communication with peers for different purposes.

Acknowledgments
The research was funded by a grant through the Friends of the Life Span Institute at the University of Kansas, awarded to Kathy Thiemann-Bourque. We gratefully acknowledge all of the project data coders and the staff at ABC'nD Autism Center (Kansas City, MO) for all of their efforts on this project and the participating families for their time and support.
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