Using the Picture Exchange Communication System to Increase the Social Communication of Two Individuals with Severe Developmental Disabilities

  • Helen I. Cannella-Malone
  • Jodi L. Fant
  • Christopher A. Tullis
Original Article


The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the PECS with Peers protocol developed by Garfinkle and Schwartz (1994), which uses The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as a means of increasing social communication between individuals with disabilities and their peers. Two females with severe communication delays and developmental disabilities served as participants and one male with developmental disabilities and one female without disabilities acted as their peers. A multiple baseline across behaviors (i.e., greetings, requests, and responses) design was used to assess the effectiveness of PECS on social communication as well as to examine whether using PECS led to increases in the participants’ verbal communication. Both participants increased their social interactions using PECS with their peer and also demonstrated a general preference for verbal communication. Social validity questionnaires indicated that teachers and parents found the social communication skills to be important and that this intervention was helpful.


PECS Social communication Severe developmental disabilities Augmentative and alternative communication Intervention 



This study was completed by the second author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in special education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen I. Cannella-Malone
    • 1
  • Jodi L. Fant
    • 2
  • Christopher A. Tullis
    • 1
  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Research Consultants, Inc.CincinnatiUSA

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