2006 Volume 43 Issue 6 Pages 485-503
The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is widely used with non-verbal children with autistic disorders as an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Most of the participants in prior research on that method, although referred to as non-verbal, had initial vocal repertoires of at least a few words. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether 3 elementary-school-age children with autistic disorders whose vocal repertoires were severely limited, such as only a few phonemes, could acquire elementary communication skills using PECS. The present study incorporated task analysis, in which a sequence of picture-exchanging behaviors was divided into 4 components. The results demonstrated that all 3 children acquired the basic component of PECS within a short period. Data from the task analysis revealed that, with increased use of PECS, their prior mode of communication (grabbing, reaching, or crying) was gradually replaced, thereby indicating the reinforcing value embedded in PECS. In addition, the present data suggest that PECS training produced collateral behavioral changes, such as an emergence of intelligible vocalization, even in students who had previously had severely limited vocal repertoires.