Pivotal Response Treatment and Autism Ranking: Strong positive evidence

Current Research

We have identified more than 40 scientific studies of pivotal response treatment as an intervention for children, young people and adults on the autism spectrum in peer-reviewed journals in English.

(Please note we have not included studies where pivotal response treatment was included as an element in multi-component programmes such as the Early Start Denver Model.)

These studies included more than 400 participants, with the majority aged between 2 and 7 years old - although 158 of those participants came from a single study by Baker-Ericzen, Stahmer and Burns (2007).

The majority of studies reported positive results for some participants. For example,

  • Some researchers (such as Baker-Ericzen, Stahmer and Burns, 2007)  reported significant improvements in adaptive functioning
  • Some researchers (such as Harper, Symon and Frea, 2008) reported improvements in social skills, such as social initiations and turn taking
  • Some researchers (such as Koegel et al, 1998)  eported improvements in communication, such as the ability to ask questions.
  • Some researchers (such as Hupp and Reitman, 2000) reported general improvements targeting one “pivotal” behaviour
  • Some researchers (such as Koegel, Koegel, Surratt, 1992) reported improvements in responding and considerably less disruptive behaviour
  • Some researchers (such as Stahmer, 1995) reported that children learned to perform complex and creative symbolic play.
19 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Oct 2016
Next Review
01 Oct 2019