Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education



First Reader/Committee Chair

Kim, Jemma


Communication deficits are often evident in students with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities. For these students, basic communication needs, like asking to use the restroom, requesting food or expressing discomfort are a challenge. Frustration caused by communication deficits can lead the student to express interfering behaviors, which may interrupt student learning. This paper identifies and describes evidence-based practices (EBPs) used to increase functional communication skills for students with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities. This review focuses on functional communication training (FCT) and the picture exchange communication system (PECS) and their use to increase functional communication skills. The study also explains how to implement FCT and PECS and the results and challenges that may take place during the implementation process. This is an informative paper intended for special education teachers who work with students with moderate-to-severe disabilities.