Motivation and self-initiation are the primary pivotal areas of PRT intervention. Initiating social motivation for children with autism is an essential value related to the importance of being engaged in meaningful social interaction. Specific PRT motivational techniques include following the childs preferred items, varying task difficulties, rewarding and reinforcing immediately and continually, and delivering natural reinforcement that is related to the childs response. (Koegel, Camarate, & Valdez-Menchaca, 1998). Other pivotal areas include self-management and the ability to respond to multiple cues or prompts. By targeting the pivotal essential areas, individuals with autism will exhibit progress in other sectors that are not targeted in the intervention (Koegel et al., 2006).
The most important aspect of PRT approach is that a child-directed approach in which the child determines the direction of the therapy by making choices. The child identifies the activities and objects that will be utilized during the intervention (Koegel et al., 2006). Autistic children often demonstrate a lack of verbal initiation required to prompt language acquisition. Therefore, enhancing their motivation with particular PRT techniques will assist students to initiate meaningful verbal communication and ensure the generalization of verbal initiation across different settings, stimuli, or people (Koegel, Camarate, &Koegel, 1998). The outcome of research studies gathering longitudinal data about children with autism suggests that the presence of verbal initiation could be a predictive indicator for more positive long-term social, behavioral outcomes. The results indicated the need for more board application systematic teaching interventions such as PRT intervention to foster child initiations (Koegel, Koegel, &Shoshan, et al., 1999).
In a recent study by Voos, Pelphrey, &Tirrel, et al., (2013), researchers investigated the effect of PRT technique on social brain activity. By using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, they measured the social brain activities while delivering the PRT method to two young children with autism. Results showed a positive impact on the neural mechanisms that support the social perception skills for both cases. Furthermore, more activities in the regions are typically recruited by healthy children during social perception process. These results support the conclusion that PRT is an effective procedure by verifying that permanent positive changes have occurred in the brains of children receiving PRT.
Moreover, Generalization and maintenance have been at the heart of the intervention core for children with autism. Therefore, implementing the intervention in a natural environment has given significant attention to responses provided by controlling the stimuli in the natural environment (National Research Council 2001). Also, motivational components in the PRT intervention package can be better promoted in the natural environment where children have their preferred activities and reinforcements (Koegel et al., 2006). Researchers observed that the natural environment paradigm leads to collateral intervention gains in targeted and non-targeted areas. Such areas include academic, behavior, and social developments in addition to the generalized effect across individuals and settings (Baker, Koegel, & Koegel, 1998; Baker, 2000; Koegel, Koegel & Surratt, 1992; Koegel, ODell & Dunlap, 1988).
Within a context of single subject design, researchers conducted a study to examine the effect of incorporating motivational techniques with natural language paradigm on responses spontaneity and generalization for two nonverbal children with autism (Koegel, O'Dell, & Koegel, 1978). The setting of this study included a clinic room directed by a clinician, and the generalization probes were monitored in a clinical room decorated as a living room. In both settings, the children were exposed to traditional learning procedures (i.e., directed by a clinician, structured activities, edible reinforcement) and natural language paradigm condition (i.e., directed by the child, attempts support, and natural reinforcement). The findings of this research illustrated that the children exhibited broad generalization gains within the natural language paradigm condition compared to traditional learning procedures
One of the critical features of the natural language model is that generalization and maintenance are integrated within the intervention, making them habitually applicable in natural settings and with varied individuals (Camarate, 1995). The natural language paradigm supports more inclusion for children with disabilities. By implementing the intervention in a natural setting, these children have better chances of being included with ordinary individuals in community settings (Camarate, 1995). The natural language paradigm (NLP) possess similarity with the Mand-model. The Mand model involves the teachers prompting verbalizations systematically through Mands hence providing reinforcements as children engage in preschool activities or play. The NLP involves applying specific play sessions where the child is provided several opportunities that include speech (Dawson, 2008; Osterling, Dawson, & Munson, 2002; Toth, Munson, Meltzoft, & Dawson 2006). The therapist and the child are involved in a frequent exchange of toys that evoke use of phrases and words tailored for the child. The NLP protocol is child-initiated with the aim to enhance motivation through engaging in various tasks. There are several forms of therapy approaches adopted by scientists over the decades to assist children who have Autism in recovering their speech using their natural environment interactions.
One of the treatment approaches that emphasized the role of the natural environment is therapeutic horseback riding. Therapeutic horseback riding is one from animal- assisted therapy that has been drastically increased during the last forty years (Prothmann & Fine, 2011). Recent developmental research demonstrated that both typically developing children and children with autism show a natural interest towards animals and other nonhuman aspects in their environments (Melson, 2003). Therapeutic horseback riding has extended the effect of animal research on the social functioning of children with autism regarding using horseback riding as a treatment to enhance posture, balance, and mobility and laterally developing the therapeutic bond between the horse and the child with autism (Martin & Farnum, 2002).
Riding a horse involved many skills such as self-control, attention an...
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