According to the data by the World Health Organization, approximately 1 out of 160 children in the whole world has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or simply known as autism. ASD is a type of developmental disorder that often begins at a young age and could last until adulthood. It causes different conditions to a person which results in him or her not to develop certain skills that a normal person would acquire. This includes communication, social, behavioural skills, and other skills that most of us have easily developed as we grow up. Cases also vary from mild to severe. Those with mild ASD can live their lives normally but with minimal support, while those who have severe cases gravely rely on domestic care all their life. As experts continuously work on different studies about autism, we can say that they have developed treatments that can ease the lives of those who have this disorder. This includes Pivotal Response Training.

What is Pivotal Response Training?

During the 1990s, Dr Robert Koegel and Dr Lynn Koegel, both psychologists, were able to develop Pivotal Response Training, also known as Pivotal Response Treatment, PRT for short. It is a type of intervention that aims to help those with autism improve their skills by focusing on the four pivotal areas of one’s development. These are motivation, responsivity to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations.

How do PRT works?

PRT is a type of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) intervention. It targets to improve the comprehensive skills of a child involving motivation, responsivity to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. Once developed, these four are believed to improve the chances of a child acquiring other related skills and learning other behaviours.

PRT is leaning on a naturalistic approach which means that it has to be implemented in a setting that is normal for the child, like at home, school, and even in parks. It is important for the people that surround the child often to get trained on PRT, considering the parents as the primary intervention agents. The involvement of teachers, siblings, and peers is also encouraged. These agents or practitioners have to follow a series of steps that are based on their interactions with the child. There are structured PRT programs that are conducted at least 25 hours a week, however, it could also be carried out in an informal setting. PRT will guide practitioners on how to approach the child, what it means when a child shows a certain response, and how to deal with these responses. There is a specific procedure for each of the four pivotal areas.

Is PRT proven effective?

Pivotal Response Training is an evidence-based treatment. Since the development of PRT, numerous studies have been conducted to test its effectivity. Around 92% of those studies have proven the success of PRT programs, resulting in favourable outcomes. Because of this, the program is recognized by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and the National Standards Project. With the ongoing researches and studies that are aimed to support and prove this study, there is no doubt PRT will help in improving the lives of children that have ASD.