Mini Review Paper

Title of the study

The title of the article is “Comparative Efficacy of the Picture Exchange Communication System(PECS) versus a Speech-Generating Device: Effects on Social-communicative Skills and Speech Development”. The article has a publication date of 2013 written by Miriam Boesch, Oliver Wendt, Anu Subramanian and Ning Hsu.



The problem is identified as the significant deficits among autism children regarding their social interaction skills. For instance, they lack eye contact and do not respond when their names are called out. The problem is occasioned by the incidence of autism and its negative effects on natural speech as well as social communicative skills. Answering the problem is important since it will help in identifying ways that the deficits being experienced by the children can be corrected.


Research Purpose and Question

The purpose of the research was to compare the efficacy of Speech Generating Device with that of Picture Exchange Communication Systems. Further, the research intended to identify the effects of the two approaches on speech development and social communicative skills among children with autism. The research question was cited as: What are the comparative effects of PECS versus SGD on enhancing (a) social-communicative behavior (i.e., eye contact, smiling, and physical orientation, and (b) natural speech production (Boesch et al., 2013)?


Research Methods

The research used three participants who had all scored in the severe range of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale. The researchers conducted a language assessment of the three participants. The choice of the participants was such that they were all non-verbal at the time of the study. The sessions were conducted thrice every week over a cumulative span of five months. The research used a single subject, multiple baseline designs across the participants. This design had an embedded alternating treatment design to increase the effectiveness. The social communicative aspects of behavior included smiling, physical orientation and eye contact. A comprehensive preference stage comprising of three stages was then conducted in determining the most preferred food items among the different participants. The variables were recorded using event recording procedures with each session consisting of twenty trials. In the analysis, visual analysis of data was used in examining the trends, levels, immediacy, overlap and variability of the effect of the treatment on the dependent variables (Boesch et al., 2013). Overlap of data between conditions was calculated using the non-overlap of all pairs index. A score of above 93% was then interpreted as having strong effects with scores below those indicating medium and weak effects.


Research Findings

The results were recorded based on the three aspects under the study including speech and social communication. Social communicative behavior attained mixed results among the three participants in terms of the two treatment options. In fact, a relatively little difference was observed between the SGD and PECS conditions pointing to a close relationship between the two. Moreover, data patterns suggested that the second phase of the PECS training protocol was conducive to encouraging the improvement of social-communicative behavior. This outcome is in spite of the fact that results on these conditions were all inconclusive. Regarding speech outcomes, data collected did not reveal an increase across the participants. In addition, there was no difference between the two treatment conditions under review.


Comments, Evaluation and Reflection

It is no doubt that children with autism have faced difficulties in social communicative behavior as well as speech. Normally, these conditions are overlooked under the disguise that these children are naturally slow in development. However, the difficulties have led to the development of treatment conditions such as the SGD and the PECS training protocol for children living with autism. However, the efficacy of each of these conditions is not well known owing to increasing gaps in the academic field. Parents of these children, therefore, face daunting challenges in the decision of which method of treatment to choose. In addition, the effectiveness of both methods is also a subject that has not been covered adequately resulting in further literature gaps. This study was effective in bridging this gap and contributing to the development of the study of autism.

While the results of the study are inconclusive, they do offer insights on the efficacy of the two treatment conditions. In fact, the results of the study are similar to ones of a research that was conducted in the past on a similar but slightly different topic. This comparative similarity indicates effectiveness on the part of the research as well as the tools of analysis. The results show that children responded better when put under the PECS treatment option with regard to social-communicative behavior. This result is further explained as stemming from the fact that the treatment condition required the physical act of exchanging a card. The result further portrays the difference in the efficacy between the two treatment options with the PECS recording higher efficacy levels. In turn, there was no other difference recorded between the two treatment options thus showing a slightly proportional comparison.

The study reveals important insights on the topic of autism treatment among children. Importantly, the comparative study of the two different treatment options reveals an important aspect regarding autism. PECS is more effective in improving social communicative behavior among children. However, the two options are equally effective in the improvement of speech among children living with autism. The study is of great use to students such as me as it provides insights on the future careers. Also, the review improves my personal understanding of autistic children and the rationale behind their slow development. In future, I will not use such terms as slowed development in reference to autistic children as it is not only demeaning but also abusive.



Boesch, M. C., Wendt, O., Subramanian, A., & Hsu, N. (2013). Comparative Efficacy of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) versus a Speech-Generating Device: Effects on Social-communicative Skills and Speech Development. AAC: Augmentative & Alternative Communication. 29 (3), 197-209.


Do you need an Original High Quality Academic Custom Essay?