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How Does Discrete Trial Training Work?

family learning how Discrete Trial Training Works

Many parents and guardians of children or autism may have wondered about discrete trial training (DTT) and its connection to applied behavior analysis (ABA). But how does discrete trial training work?

There tends to be a lot of confusion between the terms DTT and ABA. Sometimes, when people talk about ABA programs for children with autism spectrum disorder, they are actually referring to DTT programs. While DTT programs are based on the principles of ABA, the two terms are related but not the same. DTT is one of several types of therapy treatments that fall under the umbrella of ABA and is often called a teaching strategy. Other types of ABA programs for children with ASD include verbal behavior therapy and early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI). Beyond autism, ABA is generally used to help clients develop positive behaviors and discard problem behaviors.

Searching for autism treatment options near Boston, MA? Contact Journey ABA by calling 844.222.4513 or reaching out to our team online.

What Is Discrete Trial Training for Autism Treatment?

How does DTT work as a structured ABA treatment? First of all, it’s typically used to teach children with autism certain skills.

Studies and observations have shown that DTT is particularly effective for teaching children with autism. DTT is ideal for teaching children with autism who struggle with more severe symptoms of the developmental disorder, such are those that have deficits in their basic learning abilities.

DTT teaches skills through a structured approach and was one of the very first ABA interventions developed for autism, which means that there is a great deal of research behind its use.

How Does Discrete Trial Training Work?

It’s backed by scientific efforts and is an evidence-based treatment. But how does DTT work? Discrete trial training for autism treatment starts by choosing which skills to teach a client.

DTT looks at behavior as a three-step process:

  • The antecedent, which is a cue or instruction
  • The behavior
  • The consequence

For instance, when you’re thirsty, that feeling is an antecedent. You drink something, which is a behavior. After drinking, you feel better and your thirst was quenched—a consequence of your behavior. You enjoy a positive consequence for your behavior, which increases the likelihood that you’ll drink again when you feel thirsty in the future.

These skills or tasks that are otherwise difficult to learn get broken down into smaller and more discrete components. Systematically, a service provider teaches these broken-down components one by one to a client. Along the way, the service provider may use tangible reinforcements, like a small toy or candy, to reinforce desired behavior done by a client.

What Else Should Be Included in Autism Treatment?

If a parent or guardian already knows how discrete trial training works, does there need to be a focus on other types of autism treatment? Yes, of course. Discrete trial training for autism treatment mainly targets behavior learning.

DDT may also be an overly structured approach for some clients. Some clients may need to try the early start Denver model (ESDM) or pivotal response treatment (PRT). These types of early intervention are less structured and introduced in a more natural way to clients than DDT.

It’s also important to remember that ABA programs aren’t the only types of autism treatment that may work well with your child with autism. Examples of non-ABA alternatives include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and the developmental, individual difference, relationship-based (DIR) model of intervention.

Ready To Learn More About Journey ABA’s Discrete Trial Training for Autism Treatment?

If you’re looking for DTT options near Boston, MA, contact Journey ABA today. Call 844.222.4513 or reach out to our team online.