- Title: The PRT Pocket Guide
- Subtitle: Pivotal Response Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Editors: Robert L. Koegel and Lynn Kern Koegel
- Length: 200 pages
- Website: www.koegelautism.com
- About the About.com Rating
Pivotal Response Treatment focuses on finding what motivates kids with autism and using that to encourage desired behaviors and eliminate disruptive ones. The authors' fun-instead-of-flashcards approach sounds like something worthwhile for parents to try, but I wish the guide focused more on how-to than on why-you'll-want-to.
Wondering how best to help your child with autism learn and grow and develop? The authors of The PRT Pocket Guide can tell you what they'd recommend -- and, over and over, what they very much would not. Treatments without years of scientific backup, for example. Things that people think work but don't. Things that used to be accepted years ago but have been disproved. Approaches that don't use natural environments and consequences. Approaches that are negative and care not about a child's motivations. Really, anything other than the Pivotal Response Method that they've developed and tested and refined.
And that's fair. That's what we expect of authors, complete confidence in and enthusiasm over the method they've developed. As described here, PRT is a positive, fun, child-centered treatment that makes use of things that both motivate the child and make sense in the context of what you're trying to teach. Instead of sticking kids in an out-of-the-way place to be drilled with flashcards, consequences, and meaningless rewards, it draws them out into the world and into interactions with parents and peers. If it sounds too good to be true, the authors have lots of research to share … and share, and share.
For parents' purposes, I wish there had been less of the constant repetition of research findings -- and less condescending "oh you parents, don't you try those untesed therapies" -- and more here's-exactly-how-you-do-it instruction and ideas. The strategies make enough sense that we could really just get on with them already.
Is This Book for You?
It's definitely for you if: you're looking for an evidence-based approach to teaching your child with autism ... you'd like all that evidence to be laid out nicely in a book you can fit in your bag ... you like the idea of an approach that's positive, not punitive.
It may be for you if: you're interested in learning how new treatments are developed and tested ... you're put off by more traditional treatments that spend long hours drilling kids with flashcards, but want some evidence that there's a better way ... you want a text that will prove that point to professionals, too.
It may not be for you if: you have faith in those more traditional techniques and don't want it shaken ... your faith is in treatments that aren't as strongly evidence-based, but seem to work for your child ... you want someone to tell you exactly how to do Pivotal Response Treatment, rather than tell you over and over why it's the best.
It's definitely not for you if: you believe in neurodiversity and find the idea of stamping out all symptoms of autism offensive ... your goal for your child is not to make him or her less autistic ... you're suspicious of authors who discount every treatment but their own.
Table of Contents
Part I: What Is the P in PRT?
1. Treatment of Pivotal Areas
2. How to Teach the Pivotal Area of Motivation
3. How to Get Rid of Disruptive Behavior
4. How to Teach the Pivotal Area of Self-Initiation
Part II: How and When to Implement Treatment
5. Maximizing Family Involvement
6. How to Minimize Parent Stress
7. Treatment and Assessment in Natural Environments
8. Making Data Collection Easy in PRT (with Sarah Kuriakose)
Try This Now
- leaving off the last step when doing something for your child and letting him or her have the experience of completing the task successfully, then stopping sooner and sooner and letting your child do more and more (a procedure sometimes called backward chaining)
- giving a child choices of what tasks to do and how to do them
- interspersing easy tasks that the child already knows how to do with tasks that may be more challenging, so that the child has frequent experiences of achievement and mastery to draw on
- celebrating any attempt your child makes to do a challenging task, rather than only rewarding those that are complete and successful