A recent study has suggested an effective way of communication for children with autism. It is known as pivotal response treatment (PRT). People who have used it said that it could open a new world of opportunity for children with limited speech and social skills.
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) was considered the standard among autism treatments. It helps in teaching social skills with the help of heavy monitoring, reinforcing good behavior and repetition. PRT also has its base in ABA. It aims in keeping the children in their usual setting rather than a clinical one as in case of ABA and also makes it easy adoptable for parents too. Grace Genoux, lead author of the study said that PRT consists of behavioral techniques to motivate children with autism to communicate and interact with people around them in their daily routines as well as during their play activities.
In PRT a real world setting is used wherein the needs of the children are tracked and anticipated by the therapist or the parent with the help of non-verbal cues. However the child is not immediately provided with the object he wants, instead the parent withholds it and articulates a particular word or phrase to describe it. The child then gets the object when he repeats the word. Genoux said that in a questionnaire it was reported by parents that children involved in PRT learned thrice the number of new words as compared to children who were not involved in PRT. However researchers have said that PRT cannot overcome all the hurdles that is associated with the treatment of autism.
The executive director at Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities in Boca Raton, Jack Scott said that PRT is not an approach to speech therapy and that it consists of a group of techniques for motivating communication between the children and other people around. Scott said that by helping non- verbal children in verbalizing their needs, a number of other good things will follow.