Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is one of the best studied and validated treatments for ASD; derived from Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), it is PLAY BASED and CHILD INITIATED.
This treatment is used to teach language, decrease disruptive/self-stimulatory behaviors and increase social, communication and academic skills. In addition it focuses on the “pivotal” areas of a child’s development which includes motivation, response to multiple cues, self-management and initiation of social interaction.
According to theory, these skills are “pivotal” because they are the fundamental skills upon which learners with ASD can make generalized improvements in many other areas.
Motivational strategies are an important part of the PRT approach which includes child’s choice, task variation, interspersing (to insert at intervals among other things) maintenance task, rewarding attempts and the use of direct or natural reinforcers. “Natural” reinforcement is for example, when a child makes an attempt to request for a “juice”, the reward is the “juice” NOT any other unrelated reward.
The ultimate goal of PRT is to provide learners with the social and educational skills to independently participate in meaningful lives in inclusive settings. It emphasizes the importance of training parents as the primary intervention agents however, other family members (siblings, secondary caregiver), staff (teachers, consultants) and typical peers are also included. Teaching in varied and naturalistic environments has been demonstrated to promote generalization of skills.