Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #72
CE Offered: BACB
Functional and Practical Applications of the Picture Exchange Communication System
Saturday, May 25, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113 C
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.)
CE Instructor: Andy Bondy, Ph.D.

The Picture Exchange Communication System- PECS- protocol has been described in the behavioral literature for over 30 years. A variety of review bodies has viewed the protocol as an evidence-based strategy. Early research involved highly training practitioners in controlled setting. Research continues to demonstrate the range of settings in which the protocol can be faithfully implemented by a wide range of trainers, including caregivers and special educators. Research on PECS also continues to reflect its international appeal. The first talk will describe a brief- one week- introduction of PECS in a camp setting by caregivers in Canada, indicating both temporal and setting generalization. The second talk, using a multiple baseline across learners, examines the introduction of the first 4 Phases of PECS within home settings, measuring fidelity of implementation and generalization. The final talk will describe expansions of PECS use beyond common mands, including attributes, tacts, and a variety of sentence starters within a school program in Delaware as well as a preschool program in Poland.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Caregiver training, Language Expansion, PECS
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to 1) Describe how brief training can lead to fidelity implementation of PECS in a Camp environment 2) Describe how parents can be taught to implement PECS in a home environment with fidelity 3) Describe a variety of sentence starters and attributes used by learners with ASD using PECS
Exploring Child and Caregiver Outcomes Following Participation in a Picture Exchange Communication System Summer Camp
QUINLAN STAMP (Brock University), Julie Koudys (Brock University), Melissa Ann Elliott (Bethesda Services), Taylor Elizabeth McNeely (Brock University)
Abstract: Although substantial evidence supports child PECS use, and emerging evidence supports caregiver PECS training, no research specifically explores brief PECS training models. Therefore, little is known about how to effectively train caregivers and children in a time and cost-efficient manner. Similarly, few published studies explore PECS use within recreational settings, such as camp. The present study explored child PECS accuracy and caregiver PECS treatment integrity following participation in a brief, one-week PECS camp that included structured caregiver training and direct child coaching. Eight autistic children and their caregivers participated. A pre-post group design was implemented to assess caregiver and child performance. Results of non-parametric statistical analyses indicate that average caregiver PECS treatment fidelity and child PECS accuracy significantly increased post-intervention. Improvements were observed in both training and generalization settings. Results were maintained at one week, one month, and three-month follow-ups. Common caregiver and child error patterns were identified, as well as caregiver approaches to setting and reinforcer generalization.

Examining the Effectiveness of Caregiver Implementation on Phases 1-4 of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

CAITLIN GALE MCLAIN (University of Kansas), Thomas L. Zane (University of Kansas), Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.), Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas)

One of the three diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes delayed or disordered development in the areas of social communication and social interaction. Children with ASD often have deficits with functional communication, behavior that is directed towards another individual who provides direct or social rewards. One widely used communication system for children with communication deficits is the Picture Exchange Communication System. PECS is a communication system that utilizes the power of picture exchange for a child to communicate what they want, what they feel, or add descriptions. The purpose of this study was to expand on previous research and assess whether caregivers can learn to effectively implement phases 1-4 of PECS to their child with ASD in their home environment. This study used a multiple baseline design across participants and a changing criterion design across PECS phases within each caregiver. Results indicated that the caregivers were able to efficiently and effectively learn and teach their children the first four phases of PECS with their child demonstrating high levels of PECS acquisition. Results were discussed in terms of effectiveness of home-based training and the extent which generalization occurs with picture exchange systems.

Using the Pyramid Approach to Education to Teach and Expand Functional Communication in the School Setting
MOLLY LINGO (Pyramid Educational Consultants ), Magdalena Kazmierczak (Pyramid Ed. Consultants, Poland), Andy Bondy (Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.)
Abstract: A common concern in the public-school settings for children diagnosed with ASD and other developmental delays involves challenges in the development of communication. This presentation will describe and show evidence of the effectiveness of the Pyramid Approach to Education (PAE), specifically the base element of functional communication and social skills, in assisting with the teaching and expansion of communication. Communication training and expansion was implemented throughout the school environment and in community-based settings. Data were collected on daily use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) phases. Two elementary aged students used PECS alone, two other elementary students used PECS to augment their spoken repertoire, and one student began the school year ineffectively using a Speech Generating Device (SGD). Results included that of the 13450 exchanges, 18.3% involved tacts, and 11.6% use of attributes for all sentences.. Data on PECS use of attributes and distinct sentence starters (I want, I see, I see, I have, etc.) within a private preschool program in Poland were collected for 14 preschool children with ASD. Results indicted that of the average 157 pictures per student, 11% involved attributes across an average of 7.9 different sentence starters per learner.



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