The efficacy of Picture Exchange Communication System on the behavioral problems of children with autism

Maryam Mamaghnia1, Hamid Reza Pouretemad2, Fatamah Ahamdi3, & Kataun Khoshabi, 4.

۱The Center for the Treatment of Autistic Disorders, Tehran, Iran.,

۲ Department of Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, G.C., Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Tehran, Iran.

۳ Tehran-Oxford Neurodevelopmental Center, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran.

۴ Department of Psychiatry, University of Welfare and Rehabilitation Science, Tehran.

Background: Autism is a severe developmental disorder usually accompanied by various behavioral problems. The aim of the current study is to examine any possible effects of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) on the behavioral problems of autistic children.

Methods: This study follows an A-B single subject design. Four boys (age between 3-7 years) were recruited from the Center for the Treatment of Autistic Disorders, Tehran, Iran. The children had already been diagnosed as autistics based on DSM-IV criteria. These children underwent PECS intervention for a period of 4 months, 3 sessions per week. They underwent 6 assessments during the course of the study. The first assessment took place 2 months prior to the intervention (first baseline). All intervention sessions as well as the assessment sessions have been recorded on CDs. The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) was also administered in each assessment session. The efficacy of treatment was measured by two separate raters reviewing the CDs and by the ATEC scores.

Results: Inter-rater reliability for behavioral problems was 0.84. Qualitative analysis of results showed that along with improvement of communication skills, both individual and social behavioral problems were reduced in 3 of the 4 children.

Discussion: The result of this study would indicate that the PECS could reduce behavioral problems through enhancement of communication skills –

meaning that some behavioral problems in autistic children may be related to lack of communication abilities.




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