Kylee is a lively six-year-old girl with autism. She enrolled at Heartspring as a day-school student in October 2007. At enrollment, it was reported that Kylee used approximately 10 words, but did not use them consistently or functionally. With help, Kylee also used a few pictures to communicate. Behaviorally, Kylee frequently engaged in dropping and screaming to express that she did not want to participate in an activity. Academically, Kylee was not able to identify her numbers, letters, colors or shapes.
Kylee has made remarkable progress with her communication, behavior and academic skills. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) was implemented to give Kylee a way to appropriately express what she wanted, while also fostering her verbal skills. Currently, Kylee uses verbal communication and her PECS book to express what she wants or needs throughout her day. She has progressed from a communication book with 24 pictures to 66 pictures, and a verbal vocabulary of 10 words to 100+ words that she uses purposely everyday. Kylee will seek out her communication book, and takes it with her to all environments. This demonstrates that Kylee finds purpose and power in communicating. Her rates of target behavior have also decreased. Academically she is able to verbally identify the alphabet, numbers 1-10, colors and shapes. She can also read 11 words. She smiles, laughs and effectively communicates with her peers and staff. Kylee is truly learning that communication has meaning and each week she continues to make progress toward more independence, not just in her speech, but in many areas of her life.