WWC review of this study

A randomized trial comparison of the effects of verbal and pictorial naturalistic communication strategies on spoken language for young children with autism.

Schreibman, L., & Stahmer, A. C. (2014). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(5), 1244–1251. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1038424

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    38
     Students
    , grade
    PK

Reviewed: December 2016

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Communication/ Language outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

The Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), Expressive Language Scale

Pivotal Response Training vs. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

0 Days

Full sample;
38 students

24.30

26.70

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

The Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), Expressive Language Scale

Pivotal Response Training vs. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

3 Months

Full sample;
38 students

25.50

28.70

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 13%
    Male: 87%

Setting

Undergraduate student therapists provided the assigned intervention to children in their homes. Parents were also trained on using the intervention and participated in education sessions with their children in small playrooms at two universities and in their homes.

Study sample

Forty-one children were randomly assigned to either PRT or PECS, and 39 participated in the study. Two families, one in each condition, discontinued participation during the initial phase of the intervention; one family moved and one family preferred to receive the nonassigned intervention. The children were diagnosed with autistic disorder using the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–Generic. To participate, children also had to speak fewer than nine intelligible words. There were 34 male children and five female children; all were aged 20–45 months. The final analytic sample included 38 children, with either 20 or 19 children in the PRT group (the study does not report analytic sample sizes by condition).

Intervention Group

Children in the intervention condition received PRT. Parents and therapists who provided PRT were trained in accordance with the PRT training manual. Children in the intervention group received between 181 and 263 hours of PRT in their home.

Comparison Group

Children in the comparison condition received the PECS intervention, an intervention that teaches children to exchange picture icons to communicate. Parents and therapists who provided PECS were trained in accordance with the PECS training manual. Children in the comparison group received between 181 and 263 hours of PECS in their home.

Support for implementation

During the study period, undergraduate student therapists and parents received training in accordance with the PRT manual. During the first 15 weeks, parents participated in 2-hour education sessions in the laboratory with their children twice a week. During the subsequent 8 weeks, they received 2-hour education sessions once a week and 2-hour sessions in the home twice a week. The implementation process was identical in the comparison group for PECS.

 

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