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Autism is a neurological disorder that affects essential human behaviors such as the ability to communicate feelings and ideas, as well as how to relate with others. Autistic children are usually born with the condition and it normally has a long- term effect on the ability of such children to interact with other people in the family, community, or school.
Also, children with autism depend on their parents, sibling, and teachers to take care of them (Cuvo, 2007, p. 165). Autism is a developmental disorder whose definition encompasses developmental and behavioral features of a child. Parents to autistic children are often faced with the challenge of having to educate them because they require constant specialized attention.
Nonetheless, some program models have already been developed by scientists in order to assist autistic children to improve on their learning capabilities and ability to socialize with others. The essay shall attempt to explore some of these program models as popularized by such scholars as Koegel and Dunlap. Specifically, the essay shall explore the Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) as that has been developed by Koegel.
The Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) technique shall also be explored. The program demographics, curriculum design, training of staff, family involvement and instructional methodology for the two program models shall be provided. In addition, differences between the two models shall also be assessed.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
The Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is a behavioral intervention approach that targets autistic individuals. The PRT technique was popularized by Schreibman and Koegel. PRT is a treatment intervention strategy for autistic children based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.
These principles entail the design, application, modification and assessment of environmental interventions for autistic children (Autism Research Program, 2009). The PRT technique is child-centered, although it also considers parents, siblings and teachers as well. The entire intervention process makes use of motivational strategies.
The most notable intervention strategies used by the PRT technique include direct and natural reinforcement, change of tasks, revisiting tasks that the children have already mastered, and rewarding children for the tasks that they have mastered.
This means that the child plays an important role in the choice of objects and activities to be used. For instance, in case a child tries to request for a stuffed animal, every effort should be made to ensure that the child gets what he/se wants.
The PRT technique has designed it in such a manner as to provide positive changes to the pivotal behavior of an autistic individual. This leads to improved play skills, and enhanced social behavior and communication skills. In addition, an autistic child is also able to examine his/her individual behavioral pattern. The PRT curriculum can be covered in a time of 25 hours every week, or more (Autism Research Program, 2009).
The curriculum is all-inclusive, in that it targets the parents, sibling, teachers, and other family members who are involved directly or indirectly with the autistic child. All of these individuals are encouraged to use PRT techniques periodically.
PRT technique underscores the need to train parents as the main intervention agents; nonetheless, other members of the family (for example, siblings and secondary caregivers) and staff (school personnel, consultants, and teachers) may also be included as intervention agents.
This results in the successful implementation of the PRT technique in such diverse naturalistic environments as the home, school, and community.
Discrete Trial Teaching (DTI)
DTT has proven to be an affective intervention strategy for learners with autism who require reinforcing their learned behavior through repeated trials in order to ensure that it is effectively ingrained in their repertoire (Smith, 2001). DTT has proven useful in teaching children with autism new types of behavior such as motor movement and speech sounds.
In addition, the technique also enables the child to learn more advanced skills and manage disruptive behavior. Each discrete trial is made up of five sections namely, cue, prompts, response, consequence, and inter-tribal response. The DTT technique has been designed in such a way as to target the individual behavior of an autistic child using the available curriculum.
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On the other hand, the PRT technique tends to be child-centered. The DTT technique relies on three main elements namely, the request or directive (antecedent), the learner’s response (the behavior) and the reinforcement (the consequence).
It is important to ensure the careful application of discrete trial training to an individual child because each child differs in terms of the unique combination of excesses and deficits that they are likely to exhibit under different circumstances.
Moreover, we also need to exercise caution in ensuring that the discrete trial training strategy is not adopted entirely while forgetting to take into account the intervention strategies that can be used in combination to ensure effective management of autism (Smith, 2001). Furthermore, when discrete training has been used as an instructional strategy, it becomes necessary to consider the generalization of the skill.
There has been a dramatic rise in the number of children diagnosed with autism and this has prompted the need for effective intervention strategies that will also allow families, schools and communities to assist children with autism manage the condition. Behavioral intervention strategies have been identified as the most effective strategies in the management of autism.
The essay has examined two of the behavioral interventions strategies namely, Pivotal Response Training and Discrete Trial Teaching. Whereas PRT is child centered, DTT technique targets individual behavior using an already established set of curriculum.
In addition, DTT is characterized by three major components namely, the antecedent, the behavior, and the consequence. On the other hand, PRT targets parents as the main intervention agents, although siblings and teachers may also be involved.
Autism Research Program. (2009). Pivotal Response Training (PRT). Web.
Cuvo, A. J. (2007). A transactional systems model of autism services. Behav Anal., 30(2), 161-180.
Smith, T. (2001). Discrete trial training in the treatment of autism. Focus of autism and other developmental disabilities, 16(2), 86-92.