PRT® is a naturalistic intervention model derived from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) that targets pivotal areas of a child's development, such as motivation, responsivity to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. These skills are pivotal because they are the foundational behaviors upon which learners with ASD can make widespread and generalized improvements in many other areas. By targeting these critical behaviors, PRT® results in widespread, collateral improvements in communication, social, and behavioral domains. 

Specific research-based motivational procedures including child choice, task variation, interspersing maintenance and acquisition tasks, rewarding attempts, and the use of direct natural reinforcers, are incorporated to make the intervention extremely powerful and efficient. The goal of PRT® is to move the child with ASD towards a more typical developmental trajectory, through individualized intervention objectives based on the child's needs.

PRT® targets each core area of development, and focuses on increasing motivation to engage and learn for children with ASD. PRT® is implemented in the natural environments of the child  (e.g., home, community, and school) and emphasizes parent education to empower family members to become agents of intervention, so that learning can be embedded across daily routines.

According to the studies that form the evidence base for PRT®, children with ASD aged from 2 to 16 years have benefited from PRT® intervention. Research has shown that the use of motivational techniques within the PRT® teaching framework can lead to 85-90% of children with autism (who begin intervention before the age of 5) developing verbal communication as a primary mode of communication. Researchers have also identified specific behavioral characteristics associated with favorable responses to the teaching practices. Precursors related to positive outcomes thus far, include increased use of social initiations and more toy play as well as decreased social avoidance and stereotypic language.

Pivotal Response Treatment® was developed initially by Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel, who are now at Stanford University. 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).


For more information related to Pivotal Response Treatment® research at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, please contact info@koegelautism.com. Additional information on PRT® as an evidence-based practice and the PRT empirical research support can be found by clicking on the following links:   

The National Autism Center's National Standards Report

IMPAQ International Autisim Spectrum Disorders Services - Final Report

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders Website (acknowledging PRT as an Evidenced-Based Practice)

Summary Chart of the empirical support for the PRT/NLP model


Watch the video below to see Dr. Lynn Koegel on the ABC TV show SuperNanny, showing effective home intervention methods using PRT.

Watch Dr. Lynn Koegel interviewed on the Discovery Science Channel program "Ingenious Minds." (Rex Lewis-Clack)

 Watch Dr. Lynn Koegel interviewed on the Discovery Science Channel program "Ingenious Minds." (Temple Grandin)


Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families

The National Professional Development Center on ASD

A multi-university center to promote the use of evidence-based practice for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC has a comprehensive section on ASD including:  Facts, screening & diagnosis, treatment options, data & statistics, articles and some free materials.