Meta-analysis of PECS with individuals with ASD: investigation of targeted versus non-targeted outcomes, participant characteristics, and implementation phase.
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The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a widely used picture/icon aided augmentative communication system designed for learners with autism and other developmental disorders. This meta-analysis analyzes the extant empirical literature for PECS relative to targeted (functional communication) and non-targeted concomitant outcomes (behavior, social skills, and speech) for learners with autism, learners with autism and intellectual disabilities and those with autism and multiple disabilities. Effect size analyses were done using the Improvement Rate Difference method, an advanced metric. Effect sizes were independently analyzed for targeted and non-targeted outcomes, student age, learner disability, and number of phases in the PECS protocol acquired by learners. Results supported the judgment that PECS is a promising intervention method. Analysis also revealed that functional communication outcomes associated with the PECS protocol were most impacted, that preschool children and those with autism generally showed the strongest training effects, and that in general students who advanced through the most PECS protocol phases had the best outcomes.