PRT Smartphone App Project - Koegel Autism Center

PRT Smartphone App Project - Koegel Autism Center

Learn a Motivation-Based Early Autism Intervention from an App on your Phone

The UCSB Autism Center is now recruiting families to participate in a research study that evaluates the use of a smartphone app to teach caregivers an early social communication intervention for children diagnosed with autism (1 - 4 1/2 years).

What is involved?

The project focuses on evaluating an app-based program to train parents in a play-based autism intervention known as Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT). PRT focuses on harnessing your child’s motivation and interests to develop their language and communication. The Pivotal App is intended to teach you how to use PRT through 8 weekly modules that you can complete at home.

You will be asked to record and review weekly videos practicing these intervention strategies with your child in order to learn the strategies and track your progress over time. You will also complete online survey measures about you and your child before and after the program. Families that qualify and participate in the study will be compensated up to $90 for their participation.

Who can participate?

Participating families must have a child who:

  • Is between the ages of 1 – 4.5 years
  • Has an existing diagnosis of autism
  • Has a significant language delay (i.e  is nonverbal or primarly uses single words to communicate)
  • Has no significant co-occurring medical conditions
  • Is learning English as their primary language 

Parents must:

  • Live in the United States
  • Have regular access to an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) with iOS version 13.0 or higher (check your version under Settings > General > About)
  • Have internet access
  • Not have received prior professional training in PRT or a similar intervention

Why PRT?

PRT is a play-based, well-researched treatment that uses motivational strategies to increase your child's language skills and social engagement. PRT can be learned by parents and implemented during natural daily routines at home and in the community. PRT is a play-based evidence-based treatment that backed by extensive scientific research.

Families who decide to enroll will…

  • Complete some initial developmental surveys
  • Record brief parent-child play videos
  • Learn Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) through 8 weekly app-based lessons that each last about 20-30 minutes
  • Record parent-child PRT practice videos at intake, every other week, and at follow-up
  • Review the videos to learn from their own performance
  • Re-complete the developmental questions and record some final parent-child videos after the program is over
  • Be compensated up to $90 for their participation

Want to enroll? 

Click here for the link to our screening survey.


Email our research team at
(link sends e-mail) or call 805.893.2049.

This research is funded by the Department of Defense’s CDMRP Autism Research Program. All research participation is voluntary.