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Pivotal Response Training. Jessica Heras & Ericachae Chavez . Definition of Pivotal Response Training. Pivotal Response training is defined by Vismara & Bogin (2009) as:

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pivotal response training

Pivotal Response Training

Jessica Heras


Ericachae Chavez

definition of pivotal response training
Definition of Pivotal Response Training
  • Pivotal Response training is defined by Vismara & Bogin (2009) as:

“a method of systematically applying the scientific principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) to teach learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

  • Goals & Objectives*PRT focuses on social interactions, language, and communication skills through pivotal areas of:
history of prt
History of PRT
  • Pivotal response training was developed by Dr. Robert and Lynn Koegel in the 1970’s from the Universtiy of California, Santa Barbara.

(Autism speaks, 2014).

autism spectrum disorder asd
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. 

(Autism Speaks, 2014)

components of pivotal response training
Components of Pivotal Response Training

Through ABA, PRT targets "pivotal areas" of child development instead of targeting one behavior

  • Motivation
  • Responsivity
  • Self Management
  • Initiating

Vismara and Bogin, 2009

goals of prt
Goals of PRT
  • Decrease in disruptive/self-stimulatory behavior
  • Increase in social, communication, and academic skills
  • Improvement in play skills and the child's ability to self-regulateImplementation

*Each program is tailored to each child

Vismara and Bogin, 2009

who benefits from prt
Who Benefits from PRT?

This intervention can be of benefit to anyone, but particularly with children between the ages of 2-16 with a verbal ability of 2.5 years. 

It has been shown to be useful to:

  • Families with young children at home
  • In the classroom 
  • Between peers in the classroom setting

Koegel, Koegel, Harrower, and Carter, (1999)

procedures of prt
Procedures of PRT

7 Levels to intervention

  • establish the learner’s attention
  • obtain shared control in the environment
  • use the learner’s choice
  • vary the tasks and responses
  • reinforce attempt towards the target behavior
  • reinforce response attempts
  • use natural and direct reinforcers

Stahmer, 1999

do s and don ts of prt
Do’s and Don’ts of PRT


  • Share control over the activity.
  • Watch for his immediate motivation.
  • Make yourself a necessary part of the play.
  • Use anticipation.
  • Work toward frequency instead of level of response.
  • Use Lots of eye contact and exchanges of facial expression
do s and don ts of prt continued
Do’s and Don’ts of PRT Continued..


  • When teaching the next level of language, don’t make it all hard.
    • Expect the easy responses about ½ the time.
    • Push a little harder for new skills when he is highly motivated.
  • Don’t use prompts that sound like questions.
  • Don’t reinforce with “good talking” or similar phrases.
strengths of prt
Strengths of PRT
  • Get the child's attention and provide clear prompts
  • Child-centered to increase motivation
  • Sharing control to provide natural reinforcement
  • Reinforcement provided upon completion of prompted behavior
  • Reinforcement is natural
  • Mastered tasks are mixed with tasks being learned 

Koegel et al., 1999

areas of concern
Areas of Concern
  • Some children learn better in highly structured environments
  • Some skills (academic) can be difficult to teach in a child-driven format
  • Parents might feel that incorporating intervention strategies into parent-child interactions can become unnatural
  • Parents might not feel they have the time to learn and implement that strategiesBackground
  • Autism Speaks It’s Time to Listen (2014). Retrieved from:

http://www.autismspeaks.org/what- autism/treatment/pivotal-response-therapy-prt

  • Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L. Harrower, J. K., & Carter, C. M. (1999). Pivotal response intervention I: Overview of approach. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24, 174-185.
  • Stahmer, A. C. (1999). Using Pivotal Response Training to facilitate appropriate play in

children with autistic spectrum disorders. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 15, 29-



Vismara, L.A., & Bogin, J. (2009). Steps for implementation: Pivotal response training. Sacramento, CA: The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, The M.I.N.D. Institute, The University of California at Davis School of Medicine.