Pivotal Response Teaching (PTR) is an evidence-based naturalistic behavioural approach based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis. PTR was developed by Koegel, Koegel and Screibman to address some of the limitations associated with other more highly structured methods.
Currently, PTR or other naturalistic programs are often used in conjunction with highly structured programs as a way to generalize skills to a more natural setting. PTR teaching strategies can aid in developing communication play, social, and academic skills as well as promoting generalization of skills. This approach can be used with young children within daily routines such as meal time, dressing, bathing or during play time. The PTR model is very versatile as it can be used with individual children or groups of students in home or school settings.
Components of the PTR model include developing a child’s motivation to learn by incorporating the child’s preferences within the activity, such as offering a choice of certain preferred toys to play with, increasing their ability to initiate or respond to multiple cues and increasing their self-management skills.
The components of PTR are broken down into a three-part pattern.
The first part is providing an opportunity to respond by gaining the child’s attention using clear and appropriate instructions, mixing easy and difficult tasks, offering choices and taking turns and by using multiple examples to ensure understanding of the instruction.
The second part is observing the child’s response.
The third part is responding to their response with appropriate consequences. The consequences include providing reinforcement that is directly related to the activity or the child’s response, providing immediate and appropriate reinforcement and rewarding attempts at responding to encourage the child to try again.
PTR can be used when building your child’s communication skills in multiple ways. Some examples include placing preferred items in a clear container but in sight of your child or by offering only small amounts of a preferred item at a time, thereby requiring your child to make a communication response to gain the item. Once the response is made, your child would be reinforced by being given the item requested.
This resource which has applicability both to home and school settings offers very practical and doable strategies for enhancing a young child’s skills in a variety of areas.
If you’re interested in learning more about this approach, information can be found in the following resources: