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Pivotal Response Treament. A Brief Overview of an Autism Therapy Approach By-Catherine Livingston and Earlene Darling Brandman University EDUU 676, January 22, 2011. A Snapshot of Pivotal Response Treatment. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is a behavioral intervention therapy for autism .

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Pivotal response treament

Pivotal Response Treament

A Brief Overview of an Autism Therapy Approach

By-Catherine Livingston and Earlene Darling

Brandman University EDUU 676, January 22, 2011

A snapshot of pivotal response treatment
A Snapshot of Pivotal Response Treatment

  • Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is a behavioral intervention therapy for autism.

  • A treatment for Autism based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles. It is one of four research-based ABA therapies.

  • was created by Dr Lynn and Robert Koegle

  • Is also based on Natural Language Training.

  • Focuses on increasing communication, motivation and appropriate responses to cues in children diagnosed with Autism.

  • Targets areas of development rather than specific behaviors (i.e. motivation, responses to cues) 

  • Main goal is to increase “normal” behaviors

Pivotal response treament

A Description of The Pivotal Response Treatment

  • PRT aims to increase a child’s motivation to learn, monitoring of his/her own behavior, and initiations of communication with others.

  • PRT targets PIVOTAL AREAS of a child's development, such as motivation, responses to multiple cues, self-management, and appropriate self-initiation

  • These changes are described as pivotal because they are viewed as helping the child learn a wide range of other skills.

Pivotal response treatment description cont
Pivotal Response Treatment™ Description Cont.

  • Pivotal Response Treatment™ is a highly acclaimed research-based intervention for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

  • PRT is a naturalistic intervention model derived from Applied Behavior Analysis Methods.

  • PRT is different than some other ABA methods because the focus is on improving developmental deficits rather than targeting specific behaviors.

  • Parents are taught to provide the therapy in the child’s natural environment. Natural and targeted reward systems are taught to parents so they can implement them with their child.

Target population for prt
Target Population for PRT

  • Young children with Autism are the most appropriate recipients of PRT. This therapy is targeted toward children who are elementary school aged or younger.

  • Some children with other developmental disabilities can benefit from PRT methods.

  • The PRT intervention program is geared specifically to the individual child so it is appropriate for severe to mildly autistic individuals.

  • Research supports the use of PRT with both very young and older subjects can yield improved communication and responses to cues. (Hupp & Reitman, 2000; Koegel & Frea, 1993; Koegel, Koegel, Harrower et al., 1999; Pierce & Schreibman, 1997).?

Purpose of prt
Purpose of PRT

  • Teach language skills

  • Decrease disruptive/self-stimulatory behaviors,

  • Increase social, communication, and academic skills.”

  • The focus on reducing problematic/atypical behaviors

    in children with Autism

Key researchers
Key Researchers

  • Drs. Lynn and Robert Koegel

  • Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel from the University of California, Santa Barbara are the developers of Pivotal Response Treatment.

  • Over the past 30 years, the Koegels, their graduate students, and their colleagues have published over 200 research articles in peer-reviewed journals that support the effectiveness of PRT, and have written over 30 books and manuals.

  • PRT is listed by the National Research Council as one of the ten model programs for autism, and is one of four scientifically based practices for autism intervention in the U.S. (Simpson, 2005).

Some research states
Some Research States-

  • Children with autism have difficulties making initiations. Previous research has found that initiations are associated with more positive long-term outcomes and that children with autism can be taught initiations using Pivotal Response Treatment.

  • Initiations tend to be among the first words of typically developing children. This project aims to teach young children with autism initiations (What's That?) at a language age approximating that of typical development. We anticipate that this will positively affect developmental trajectory and lead to collateral gains in vocabulary acquisition and generalized initiations.

    • From University of Santa Barbara Pivotal Response Treatment Research Center

Some current research supports pivotal response treatment nefdt n koegel r l singer g gerber m 2010
Some Current Research Supports Pivotal Response TreatmentNefdt, N., Koegel, R.L., Singer, G., & Gerber, M. (2010).

  • Journal of Positive Behavior Intervention. Vol. 12, No.1. 23-32.

  • There is increasing demand for access to effective interventions for families who have children with autism

  • The purpose of this study was to evaluate, through a randomized clinical trial, whether the use of a self-directed learning program could result in changes in behavior for parents and their children with autism.

  • Results indicated significant differences between treatment and control groups at posttest on all of the dependent measures.

  • Furthermore, all of the parents who completed the self-directed learning program reported high ratings of satisfaction.

  • The data suggest the efficacy and effectiveness of a self-directed learning program to serve as an initial step toward providing intervention for parents with children with autism.

The steps of prt
The Steps of PRT

Koegel, Koegel, and Suratt (1992) suggested the following steps to teach self‐management:

 Step 1: Identify the desired behavior.

  • The teacher and the child identify a desired behavior they will work on. The desired behavior has to be measurable and objective.

    Step 2: Identify reinforcers.

  • The teacher helps the child choose rewards that are reinforcing to him or her.

  • In order to improve self‐management capacity, it is recommended that internal reinforcement be paired with external rewards.

The steps of prt cont
The Steps of PRT Cont.

Step 3: Select a self‐monitoring device.

  • The teacher decides on a method of collecting data that is appropriate for the child.  

    Step 4: Teach to self‐monitor.

  • The teacher teaches the child how to monitor the occurrence or absence of the desired behavior using the selected self‐monitoring device.  

    Step 5: Generalize.

    The teacher collects data to see whether the child can generalize the self‐management procedures into real‐life situations.

Some other information about prt
Some Other Information About PRT

  • The primary goal of PRT is to instill motivation in the child with autism to respond to cues and social interactions that can replace inappropriate or atypical behaviors.

  • Parents and Teachers are trained to be the PRT therapists.

  • Parents and teachers are trained to recognize opportunities where natural reinforcers can be used to increase the child’s internal motivation to respond appropriately to multiple cues.

Some parent resources
Some Parent Resources

Where to Order Pivotal Response Training Guides-


Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions-


About Pivotal Response Treatment-



  • Johnson, Sandi, 2010, What is Pivotal Response Treatment? -http://www.brighthub.com/mental-health/autism-pdd/articles/99537.aspx

  • Key Components of PRI-

    http://www.autismnetwork.org/modules/behavior/pri lecture03.html#topic3

  • Koegle PRT Home-


  • Nefdt, N., Koegel, R.L., Singer, G., & Gerber, M. (2010).