Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP


The current study examined the effectiveness of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as a functional communication training (FCT) program implemented by a local community agency specializing in autism diagnosis and treatment in developing communication skills among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Conducted using archival data, this study used a within-subjects repeated measures research design to determine if PECS improved the overall communication skills of enrolled participants at the agency, as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Third Edition (Vineland-3) and the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC). Individual growth on communication goals was measured by comparing goals concerning the use of appropriate communication set before treatment and goals achieved after treatment. A total of 44 children ranging in age from 2 years to 6 years participated in the PECS program, and clinicians and parents completed treatment assessments. The results indicated that the differences between pretreatment and posttreatment measures for the Communication domain on the Vineland-3 and the Speech/Language Communication (I) subtest on the ATEC were significant. There was no significant relationship between the differences in pretreatment and posttreatment scores on the Vineland-3 Communication domain and the ATEC Speech/Language Communication (I) subtest and the length of time between assessments. Individual growth on communication goals was achieved by most participants.