Autism Wiki

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

The two primary pivotal areas are motivation and self-intiations. The other three are self-management, empathy, and the ability to respond to multiple signals, or cues. Pivotal response therapy uses a play environment to teach skills such as turn-taking, communication, and language. This training is child-directed: the child makes choices that direct the therapy. PRT also emphasizes parents as the primary intervention agents.

According to the Autism Society of America, PRT includes

"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. For example, intentful attempts at functional communication 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). Pivotal Response Treatment is used to teach language, decrease disruptive/self-stimulatory behaviors, and increase social, communication, and academic skills."[1]

Due to the child-directed nature of the therapy, and the use of natural reinforcers, it may be less controlling than ABA therapy and be less likely to have ethical issues.


  1. a page from the website of Autism Society of America PRT
  • Pivotal Response Treatment for Autism: Communication, Social and Academic Development by Robert L. Koegel and Lynn Kern Koegel

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