Overview of PRT
The UCSB Koegel Autism Center uses an intervention called Pivotal Response Treatment, or PRT. PRT is a highly acclaimed research-based intervention for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). PRT is a naturalistic intervention model derived from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
PRT was created by Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel. 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).
Of the many treatment programs for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Pivotal Response Treatment® is one of the few that is both comprehensive (as listed by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences) and empirically supported (as recognized by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the National Standards Project).
Rather than target individual behaviors one at a time, PRT targets pivotal areas of a child's development, such as motivation, responsivity to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. By targeting these critical areas, PRT results in widespread, collateral improvements in other social, communicative, and behavioral areas that are not specifically targeted.
The underlying motivational strategies of PRT are incorporated throughout intervention as often as possible. These include child choice, task variation, interspersing maintenance tasks, rewarding attempts, and the use of direct and natural reinforcers. The child plays a crucial role in determining the activities and objects that will be used in the PRT exchange. Intentful attempts at the target behavior are rewarded with a natural reinforcer (e.g, if a child attempts a request for a stuffed animal, the child receives the animal, not a piece of candy or other unrelated reinforcer). PRT is used to teach language, decrease disruptive/self-stimulatory behaviors, and increase social, communication, and academic skills.
In the past, Pivotal Response Treatment has been referred to as Pivotal Response Training, Pivotal Response Teaching, Pivotal Response Therapy, Pivotal Response Intervention®, and the Natural Language Paradigm (NLP). These terms all indicate the same treatment delivery system, most commonly known as Pivotal Response Treatment.