Raising a child with autism can come with a lot of joys and wins, but there are also a lot of challenges. For many parents, one of the biggest of those challenges is learning how to communicate with their child. And although there are quite a few approaches to teaching a child with autism how to communicate, new research points to a play-based therapy that could be best for helping children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) improve their language abilities.

In a study out of Stanford University, researchers looked at 48 children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, all of whom had an autism diagnosis and were experiencing serious language delays. These children were split into two groups. Half received pivotal response treatment (PRT). The other half continued with whatever treatments they had been receiving before the start of the study.

By the end of the study, the children in the PRT group were speaking more than the other study participants. The words they were using were better recognized by others as well. So, what is PRT? PRT involves relying on a child’s own motivations to get them to speak. For example, if a child seems to be expressing interest in a toy on the ground, the therapist would pick up that toy and use the name of it to encourage the child to repeat the name. When the child does so, they’re rewarded by then being given the object.

Interested in learning more about PRT? Look no further.