An investigation into parent/caregiver perceptions of using the Picture Exchange Communication System with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Around 30% of individual’s with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are suggested not to gain verbal communication skills. Therefore, use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems or devices is vital to support them to communicate effectively and efficiently. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an intervention and alternative means of communication that aims to teach individuals functional communication skills. A review of literature finds some evidence of PECS being effective. However, several studies focus on speech as a measure of effectiveness, rather than the impact on an individual’s overall functioning in their daily lives. Family members/caregivers have an active role in the therapy process and in enabling successful communication in everyday life, particularly with individual’s using AAC devices/systems. This extended research proposal focuses on building the data previously gathered about PECS from parents/caregivers in the Yoder and Stone (2006) study. It aims to explore parent/caregiver experiences of PECS, investigating further their perceptions of its effectiveness in the everyday lives of their children with ASD and factors they perceive to impact on implementation. Key themes identified from the interviews may be beneficial to inform other parents/caregivers about PECS and what it entails regarding implementation. It can inform clinical practise in speech and language therapy as well as other health and education professions. It is hoped information gained can be used to help guide new ways to promote acceptance of PECS and other AAC devices/systems in society. vii Overall, the proposed study aims to benefit individuals using PECS and improve their quality of life, by further supporting them to achieve their full communication potential, participate in their daily life and achieve their goals. Future research could include comparing experiences and perceptions of, for example, mothers and fathers, a variety of cultures as well as parents/caregivers of adults who use PECS.