Brief Report: Improving Social Outcomes for Students with Autism at Recess Through Peer-Mediated Pivotal Response Training

J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Jun;48(6):2224-2230. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3435-3.


Many students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) struggle to appropriately interact and play with their peers at recess. In this pilot feasibility study, we tested the efficacy of practitioner-implemented, peer-mediated Pivotal Response Training (PRT) with 11 elementary and middle school students with ASD. Participants were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. We measured outcomes at multiple time points, and analyzed data using multi-level modeling with time nested within student. We demonstrated large and statistically significant increases in peer interaction (d = 1.13). Appropriate play with peers also increased substantially (d = 0.89). Practitioners and students provided positive feedback. These findings suggest school staff can feasibly facilitate peer-implemented PRT that improves social outcomes for students with ASD at recess.

Keywords: Autism; Inclusion; Peer interactions; Peer play; Peer-mediated intervention; Pivotal response training.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Schools* / standards
  • Social Skills*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires