Essay Example on Students with severe developmental disabilities may not be able to Communicate









Students with severe developmental disabilities may not be able to communicate like their peers but that does not mean that they have nothing to say nor does it diminish their need and right to communicate Research concludes that students with developmental disabilities need opportunities and strategies in order to develop their functional communication skills For students with severe developmental disabilities who struggle to communicate augmentative and alternative communication AAC systems can be used to provide an effective mode of communication The Picture Exchange Communication is one AAC system that can be used to teach individuals to communicate with a variety of communicative partners using pictures and symbols Thus the purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of PECS among students with disabilities and their peers in their social communication There are 6 phases in PECS training In Phase 1 the individual is taught to exchange a single icon for a preferred item The individual requires to find their communicative partner and hand their exchange in Phase 2 In phase 3 the individual is taught to discriminate the differences between the individual icons to identify the item they want One key element of PECS that is seen as an advantage over other systems is that it teaches the individual to initiate the communicative act rather than responding to a question posed by their communication partner Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of PECS as a system for teaching communication to individuals with developmental disabilities 

Although there is a growing research base supporting the efficacy of PECS as an AAC system for teaching basic communication such as requesting and commenting there is limited information about how well individuals who use PECS demonstrate skills of social competence including socially interacting with others generalizing interaction styles and maintaining interactions over time For individuals with disabilities to be accepted by their peers as a full communication partner they would have to be able to initiate communication maintain an interaction and appropriately end an interaction Two females with communication delays were selected for participation in this study Both participants had been trained how to use PECS but both of them did not use PECS as their communication mode Tulla was a 14 year old girl with a diagnosis of PDD NOS and Mood Disorder NOS She used verbal communication when prompted by her teachers She was aggressive with her teachers when she was not able to express her wants and needs and she did not communicate with her peers Tulla attended a county funded school designed to educate students with severe developmental disabilities between the ages of 5 and 21 Her sessions were conducted in her classroom London was a 6 year old female diagnosed with severe autism She used an AAC device sporadically sign language and three word phrases to communicate her wants and needs to adults She did not use these same methods of communication to interact with her peers though she would often observe them without interacting If she did interact with her peers she engaged in aggressive behavior If they tried to interact with her she would often run away from them or cry London was enrolled part time in both her local public school and a school for students who engaged in severe challenging behavior She also received services through a home based education program London s sessions were conducted during her home based program Two older participants were selected as their peers 

Before the intervention replacement preference assessment was conducted to identify reinforcers for each participant Seven items were selected for each participant based on parent and teacher report At the beginning of each session the participant was given the opportunity to sample each of the seven items for approximately 30s The participant was allowed to consume edible items and engage in free play with tangible items All seven items were then placed in an array in random order and the participant was allowed to choose one item to consume or play with After which the participants received instruction on the first three phases of PECS In Phase 1 the participants were taught to locate a picture pick up the picture and put it into the hands of the communication partner In Phase 2 they were taught to retrieve their book from a distance of 5 ft and to persist in their attempts to exchange the picture Finally in phase 3 each participant was taught to discriminate between two or more pictures In each phase the participant was given 15 s to respond If the participant did not respond the instructor will physically prompted her to reach for and pick up the icon then put the icon into the hand of the instructor Before the social skills intervention was implemented each peer was taught how to respond to the participant A social skills training package was used to teach social skills to the participants Following baseline participants were taught to use PECS to interact with their peers Situations within the educational setting were designed to maximize opportunities for communication between the participant and peer using items that were highly reinforcing for the participants The participants were prompted to interact with their peers in these situations where the peer had access to the participant s preferred items

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