Effective of picture exchange strategy on the communication skills development in autistic Children

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Mbewe, Mikala
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University of Zambia
This study aimed at investigating the effects of picture exchange strategy on the communication skills of autistic children. It attempted to explore whether the picture exchange strategy could be used in Zambia in order to help children with autism to communicate. The study drew mainly on the children’s actual behaviour as they were exposed to the strategy during base line, intervention and post intervention periods. The study also incorporated the perspectives of parents and volunteer teachers who were involved during the study. To date, it is evident that there has been no research that has identified better methods of teaching communication to learners with autism in Zambia. It is against this background that the present study attempted to determine the effectiveness of Picture Exchange System (PES) in enhancing communication skills in children with autism. A case study research design was conducted to determine the effectiveness of teaching Zambian children with autism to communicate their needs using PES. Single subject case design with four children by using the antecedent, background and consequence strategy was used along with focus group discussion for teachers, parents/caregivers conducted in Bauleni Compound of Lusaka, Zambia. The number of discrete trials it took for each child to obtain and use the skill consistently varied with most effectively learning it within 70 trials. The pace for the PES acquisition skill largely depends on caregiver support, attachment and commitment rather than child age and the mere presence of a care giver. It is evident that all children were able to acquire the communicative skill. Implementing PES training is critical in Zambia. The study recommended that the Teacher Training Colleges and Institutions should include Augmentative and Alternative communication in the Teacher training curriculum and Universities. Besides that, the government should encourage line Ministries to collaborate in conducting early identification and intervention strategies for children with autism to improve the acquisition of effective communication at a younger age. In addition, parents should collaborate with teachers in order to come up with intervention programmes that receive positive reinforcements in all environments. They should also receive various training in disabilities. In conclusion, the study suggests that the picture exchange strategy is effective in helping children with autism initiate communication. Additionally, as children use the strategy some may also learn verbal language and reduce unwanted behaviours.
Master of Education in Special Education
Communicative disorders in Children , Autism in Children