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Kids Gardening

Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)

Evidence-based behavioural intervention 

For individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Scientifically modified to include "motivation" within naturalistic settings and reinforcement

Learn from anywhere

Leading to positive effects on social skills, communication and behaviour.

BCBA/BCaBA Supervision: Services

What is PRT?

Pivotal Response Treatment

Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is a naturalistic form of Applied Behavioural Analysis. It is an evidence-based early intervention based on principles of ABA which targets pivotal areas of development that foundational behaviours rely on to make widespread generalized improvements. Areas targeted are motivation, responsivity to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. 


Pivotal Response Treatment is a play-based/child-initiated evidence-based treatment for autism that uses natural learning opportunities to target and modify key pivotal behaviours in children with autism, leading to widespread positive effects on communication, behaviour, and social skills.

BCBA/BCaBA Supervision: Welcome

The History

Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), was developed by Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel. While studying under Dr. Ivar Lovaas, Dr. Koegel began modifying ABA teaching procedures to include naturalistic settings and motivating material within the target lesson seeing noticeable improvements in his learners.


The intervention has since grown and, according to the National Research Council, PRT is identified as one of the four scientifically validated behavioural interventions. The therapeutic practice has evolved to include key components such as motivation, responding to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. Once tackled, the pivotal behaviours can lead to generalized gains across a variety of skills.


Taking into consideration the child's interests, Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) is a play-based naturalistic behavioural intervention that contains foundational teaching procedures from Applied Behavioural Analysis. PRT modifies traditional ABA procedures to include motivation, natural reinforcement, and everyday settings. The intervention can be applied to communication goals, daily living goals, socialization goals, and many more. The goal of PRT is to increase the child's responsivity to their environment through continuous prompting that rewards attempts within a balanced response-reinforcer contingency.   

Is PRT right for your child?


Behavioural foundations exist naturally in any individual's daily life. Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) teaches individuals with ASD to respond to their environment with the goal of providing learners with the communication and social skills needed to independently interact with peers and decreasing the need for constant provider intervention. PRT primarily focuses on choice and attention that encourages learners to respond to the social cues of the environment.


The learners' choice and attention are at the forefront of learning.

In-person, a PRT session can look a lot like play. Goals are similarly targeted in a Discrete Trial format but can organically appear within a session. Our Behaviour Technician is trained to use behavioural momentum to teach within the opportunity that is presented. 

Is PRT right for your learner?

Tailoring a behavioural intervention is quite complex as needs are constantly evolving. Extant research is looking into predictor profiles of learners to determine the best possible outcomes. At this moment, research conducted by Fossum, Williams, Garon, Bryson, & Smith (2018) states that certain behavioural characteristics are associated with a positive response to a PRT model of ABA.


Research is currently looking into behaviour profiles of the learner. At this moment, the following checklist helps a service provider determine if a positive response to a PRT model of ABA may help:

  • Positive affect 

  • Appropriate play with toys 

  • Social Engagement

  • Cognitive ability at the start of intervention or gains made throughout the application of behaviour therapy

  • Parent engagement (Gengoux et al., 2018).

Fossum, K. L., Williams, L., Garon, N., Bryson, S. E., & Smith, I. M. (2018). Pivotal response treatment for preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder: Defining a predictor profile. Autism Research, 11(1), 153-165. 


Gengoux, G. W., Berquist, K. L., Salzman, E., Schapp, S., Phillips, J. M., Frazier, T. W., ... & Hardan, A. Y. (2015). Pivotal response treatment parent training for autism: Findings from a 3-month follow-up evaluation. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 45(9), 2889-2898.

VBS is one of the only centres to provide a combined ABA + PRT approach.

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