Welcome to the Stanford PRT Research and Training Program

Pivotal Response Treatment® 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® targets pivotal areas of a child's development, such as motivationresponsivity to multiple cuesself-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 Autism Spectrum Disorders (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 at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is now further being developed by the Koegels 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 please email PRTautism@stanford.edu

Research Studies

Social Skills Program: Pivotal Response Treatment (Face-to-Face) for Highly Verbal Autistic Adolescents (11-13 years)

This is a 9-week intervention focusing on key social skills for autistic adolescents ages 11-13 years, while exploring brain plasticity using fMRI imaging. Your child will receive 1:1 sessions with our clinician, with parent education in clinic. Topics include: Greetings, Departures, Question Asking, Talking the Right Amount, Empathy, Sarcasm, and Eating and Drinking. We also coordinate with the school for additional support and opportunities to practice the targeted social skills in a club of interest.  The intervention is completely free and we compensate up to $325 for your child’s time for all assessments, fMRI imaging, and intervention appointments. Interested individuals can contact Braindevelopment@Stanford.edu.

Social Conversation Program: AI Study for Verbal Autistic Adolescents and Adults (11-35 years)

This 4-week AI program is designed to improve the social conversation of autistic adolescents and adults. This program can be completed in 5-10 minutes a day, 5 days a week, using a home computer. Individuals may talk or type responses into the computer and feedback will be provided. We have nine different AI modules and will be testing them individually, beginning with responding empathetically. Interested individuals can email LizzieP@Stanford.edu.