A behavioral therapy called pivotal response treatment (PRT) boosts the communication skills of autistic children with language delay better than do standard speech and autism therapies, a small study suggests1.
PRT therapists use various strategies to motivate autistic children to talk during play. For instance, they may name a toy that a child shows interest in, but hand it over only if the child then requests it by name. They also teach parents to use similar strategies in their daily routines.
The treatment has been shown to improve communication skills and ease autism traits when therapists implement it2. It is also effective when trained parents deliver it3. The new work explores its effectiveness when both parents and therapists are involved, as the therapy’s creators intended.