This essay will look at two psychological approaches and the use of these with an individual in an SLT setting. The health issue these approaches will relate to Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Before discussing this in further detail it is first necessary to define the characteristics of ASD and provide an overview of what psychology is and the existence of different theoretical approaches.
ASD is a disorder of psychological development defined by the presence of abnormal or impaired development that is manifest by the age of three years. It is characterized by abnormal functioning in the three areas of psychopathology: reciprocal social interaction, communication, and stereotypical, ...view middle of the document...
As stated in the aforementioned, impaired communication is characteristic of |ASD. Since communication is essential to express thoughts, concerns, wishes and needs and enables humans to build relationships and interact socially an ability to be able to communicate effectively is essential to the human experience. Impaired communication is pervasive and can affect humans through the whole of their life. As such a system which supports an individual’s ability to communicate effectively is advantageous.
A communication system called PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is used with individuals who have a communication disability as part of an ASD. PECS is a behaviourist instructional approach (based on the psychological theory of behaviourism) using rewards to introduce and extend a functional communication system. PECS is a form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) that uses pictures instead of words to help children communicate. It was designed specifically for children with autism who have delays in speech development. Initially a child is given a set of pictures of a favourite food or toy (the stimulus). When the child wants one of these items, he gives the picture to a communication partner e.g. SLT or parent and is immediately rewarded with the item. This exchange reinforces communication. Although it can take a long time to make the connection it is the hoped that as the child begins to understand the usefulness of communication that he/she will then begin to use natural speech or use a communication system, which facilitates their ability to express their needs and desires.
As stated in the above paragraph underpinning PECS is the theory of behaviourism. This discussion will now turn to an explanation of this.
Early in the 20th century the theory of Behaviourism arose. Whereas previous theories focused upon the conscious and unconscious mind, the theory of behaviourism focused on observable behaviour. Early work by Ivan Pavlov on dogs led to the discovery of the classical conditioning process. This theory existed for 50 years before B F Skinner introduced operant conditioning which demonstrated the effect of “punishment” and “reinforcement” on behaviour. Skinner believed that the best way to understand behaviour is to look at the causes of an action and its consequences (positive or negative). This means changing behaviour by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. Relating this back to PECS the use of the favourite toy or food provides reinforcement and the giving of the exchange of the card describes the desired response.
Turning now to the second theory which like behaviourism has application to the health issue in question: namely ASD
1n the 1940s Abraham Maslow introduced his theory of psychology of a hierarchy of needs. Although not presented this way by Maslow these needs are often shown in a pyramid. The lowest levels of the pyramid addressing the most basic needs...