Independent Communicative Initiations In Preschoolers With Autism And Developmental Delays

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Article Review: The Use of Video Modeling With the Picture Exchange Communication System to Increase Independent Communicative Initiations in Preschoolers With Autism and Developmental Delays
Vanessa Radice
Florida International University

This paper provides an overview of an article by Cihak, Smith, Cornett, and Coleman (2012), including a summary of the literature review, purpose and research questions, research design, findings, implications, and limitations.
Literature Review
Independent communication is very crucial in an individual’s life. It is needed to navigate society as well as help interact with others to help meet primary and secondary needs. While some children automatically pick up and build communication skills within the first few months of life, others seem to struggle and demonstrate deficits with in the communication realm of development. Individuals who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or Developmental Delays, both share the common characteristic of having limited verbal communication, leading them to frustration and inappropriate behaviors.
This study evaluated four toddlers, identified as having little if any independent communication initiation skills. Independent initiation as defined by the article is “the student picking up a picture and giving it to the teacher without any assistance or prompt to request a natural desirable item (toy or snack). The desirable items were selected by assessing each child on what their preferences for primary and secondary reinforcers would be. To increase the effectiveness and promote maintenance of communication skills, ensuring that the items were meaningful and interesting to the child’s natural environment and area of interest was crucial.
Two different techniques for teaching language acquisition were used in the study: Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and Video Modeling (VM). PECS is a very simple and versatile intervention where functional pictures are used to help a child initiate, find/approach and request for a desirable item with in a social context. Like PECS, VM has also been proven by previous findings as an effective technique when trying to help ASD and developmentally delayed students acquire new skills such as language. (Buggey, 2007; Cihak et al., 2010; Dowrick, 1999) These two techniques are very practical, versatile, and inexpensive. There simplicity, lessened demand and visual prompts , lower the social requirements consequently decreasing the anxiety in these individuals, creating a tranquil environment conducive for learning. Ultimately the study helped reinforce the important of empowering a child to initiate conversation by focusing first on his/her area of high demand, within an authentic setting, and rewarded by natural stimuli. This study has helped enhance the world of teaching interactive communication amongst children who have had difficulty with communication across the board. The findings helped better support more efficient ways of increasing functional language while decreasing the time, cost, and overall off task behaviors.
Research Question (List the purpose of the student and/or the research questions.)
The purpose of this research study was to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching children, with communication delays, using the PECS-only intervention versus the PECS plus VM intervention. Four preschool children were chosen that met certain criteria: pre-school age 3, limited verbal communication, and no prior intervention with PECS and/or VM. Overall, the goal was to prove that both techniques used interactively, PECS plus VM, could help accelerate independent communicative interactions with pre-school children who have minimal to no speech.
Independent and Dependent Variables (List the independent and dependent variables)
The constant in the study were the 3 year old toddlers. The independent variables were the intervention presented each session: PECS-Only or PECS