Teaching Communication Skills for Students Term Paper

Pages: 15 (6440 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication

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[. . .] It has also been successfully tried with adolescents and adults having speech problems of various kinds. The use of PECS is found to be more effective if the behavioral analysis of the student is also taken into account.

Experts in the field of autistic spectrum disorders today consider PECS as one of the most effective method to teach basic skills of verbal communication to the speech dispossessed. The system has today become a widely used and well-known augmentative method for imparting functional speech skills and thereby filling the gap in the process of speech acquisition (Schwartz & Garfinkle, 1998). This method of exchanging pictures and making choices have been found to help speech acquisition, along with the attempts to communicate more frequently during the daily routines. (Frea, Arnold, Vittimberga & Koegel). The basic principles of behavior coupled with the techniques of shaping, differential reinforcement and transfer of stimulus control via delay are used by the system to initiate speech in the children using pictures - both black and white and color - as the basic reference.

The children keep these pictures on a note attached with Velcro, which is known as the PCES board. The child learns to use the PECS board to make sentences like using various pictures and symbols and giving it to a learning partner asking for a needed item. For example the child can select the 'I want' picture and the 'juice picture'. PCES gives considerable importance in encouraging the child to make requests for both visible and invisible things, respond to common questions like 'what do you want' and make basic comments. There are several reasons for the popularity and wide use of PECS both in the country and outside (Siegel, 2000, Yamall, 200). The primary reason is that the system demands very little complex motor movements by the speaker and the speaker does not need to learn another language such as the sign language. (Bondy & Frost, 1994).

The second reason is the low cost and portability of the system. The third reason - as many reports prove - is the relative speed of the system. Bondy and Frost (1993) elaborately explains the methods used to train trainers in Peru to use the system in a period of five days. Though no official data is available, it was reported by the school that a majority of the 74 children that were inducted into the PECS program progressed into the second phase in a time span of three months. The last reason is the functional communicative responses that stimulate meaningful interactions between the child and the environment that is incorporated into the system (Frost and Bondy, 1994). The system stands out among the many other available options because it requires the learner to approach a listener and start interaction before initiating the communication (Bondy, 2001, Frost and Bondy, 1998).

The PECS is an immensely helpful training method for children with considerable defective communication skills to start communication. The child is taught to do a communicative act for a visible result in a social context (Bondy & Frost, 1994). Instead of following lengthy procedures arranged in artificial sequences as in other methods the PCES primarily caters to the needs of the child in the real world. Communication in a social setup is encouraged by the PECS and with the child beginning the interaction (Bondy & Frost. 1994).

International recognition has already been received by the technique of PECS. This does not require very high expenses for implementation because of materials or complex techniques. This can be easily organized by educators or the family members. The individual with the shortcoming in learning through communications is taught by a communicative partner and this system is based on that. The individual's use of the system is modified and improved through a lot of prompting, shaping and fading techniques. PECS first teaches the person through the exchange of a loved picture or an activity with another person. The other person is the partner in communication, and he accepts the request and grants it. There is no use of any verbal messages, and this builds up the introduction of the person while not making the individual dependant on him/her. (Frost & Bondy, 1994).

After this step is mastered, then one starts on the next step. This is the teaching of symbols and their differences. The next step is to put the symbols in the form of complete sentences. Then comes the last of the six phases and this is to answer the questions put to the persons. The system is so simple that it can be used with person as young as 2 years old. Some of the parents of the children who are introduced to this system worry that this new communication system will hinder the child's learning of speech. (Bondy and Frost, 1994).This has not been seen to be true in the experiments that have been carried out and the opposite is the general result. Language development of the individual is generally helped by the use of this technique.

There are other protocols from PECS but there are two important differences. The entire process of PECS is initiated by the child. Schwartz & Garfinkle (1998) have also highlighted two different studies regarding the use of PECS for small children who had serious difficulties. The first of these was for 31 pre-school children and analyzed their PECS acquisition data. They had severe communication disorders, and some of them even had autism, but were seen to learn to use PECS quite soon and correctly. Another study followed this one with 18 pre-school users of PECS for a year, but one is not certain whether these children had any child with autism. There language samples were taken at snack time and also during their free choice activities. These studies reflected that the use of PECS is carried on to the untrained settings and may thus affect the development of the language function, though in an untrained manner.

A large minority of the children here, 44%, developed spoken communication though it was unprompted and non-echolalic. Further, all the children also showed different types of communication in both the trained and untrained situations. Some children had been trained in only one type of communication, like requesting, but they also developed other methods of communication like commenting on their own (Schwartz & Garfinkle, 1998). The children succeeded in becoming communicators using PECS. The further development then took place from the classroom environment to which they had been exposed. This led to further growth and development in terms of communication. Some children were unable to develop verbal communication, but they still developed the range of their communication methods given sufficient time and encouragement (Schwartz & Garfinkle, 1998).

Even the parents of these children reported the development of the communication abilities of the children and thus got great joy from the interaction with their children who now understood and enjoyed. This was also noted by the class teachers who commented on the improved ability of the children to take part in group and other activities (Liddle & Kate, 2001). In another study by Dooley, Wilczenski and Torem done in (2001), it was shown that PECS helps to increase the functionally replacement behavior of the children rather than simply correcting erroneous behavior like using awkward sentences with need for re-wording. This however happens over the long-term. (Donnellan, Mirenda, Mesaros & Fassbender, 1984; Lohrmann-O'Rourke, Knoster & Llewllyn, 1999)

There are many other reports which have suggested that among the children who learn PECS a lot also start speaking. This was first mentioned as a positive outcome by Bondy and Frost, (1994) of 84 children taught with PECS. This was further supported by the report of Schwartz, Garfinkle and Bauer, (1998). PECS training among children who had some initial spontaneous vocal reaction led to further development in that ability, but children who did not have any reaction were unable to develop at all. Some other good effects have also been reported about PECS. One of these is a decrease in problem behavior and improvement in social behavior (Bondy & Frost, 1994; Peterson, Bondy, Vincent & Finnegan, 1995).

These are seen as potential advantages and pragmatic features of PECS, and this has led to its being accepted as a form of treatment for children affected by autism. The use has however become widespread even before there was sufficient empirically controlled investigation (Charlop-Christy, 2000; Yamall, 2000). The PECS training manual has been published in 1994, but after that there have been no controlled studies whose results have been published in support of the PECS procedures. The support has come only from some anecdotal reports of (Bondy & Frost, 1993; program evaluation data of Bondy & Frost, 1993 and 1995; and of Schwartz et al. Of 1998; and A-B design case studies of Peterson. (Peterson et al. Of 1995).

The other method of Facilitated communication or FC has got… [END OF PREVIEW]

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