Discrete Trial Teaching

I would like to explain about discrete trial teaching and some benefits and some things I found not so beneficial.

Since I started in 1995 as an ABA Therapist,in Northern New Jersey, myself and my team members did strict Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) ABA. An example of this is teaching one or more skills per program providing five to ten trials of it in a row, five if the child got all five responses correct and ten if the child got the response incorrect. That is how my team members and I did it.

For example, if the program I was working on was, Following One Step Directions, and the skill being taught was stand up, I would give the sd" stand up." If the child stood up within 3-5 seconds, a type of reinforcement was given and a plus on the data sheet. If the child did not respond, or responded incorrectly, I would prompt, either using a model or hand over hand to show the correct response. Then do that over and over until I took all of my data for that particular program.

In between teaching programs I did structured play with the child away from the table as well some incidental teaching which is doing it in a more natural setting rather then doing trials at the table. Depending on the child's ability, depended on what I played with with them. Somethings were fine motor activities, outside activities, and sometimes it was more of a pretend play.

Discrete Trial ABA was and still being used to teach children with autism. I found it to work very well. It gave a child many opportunities to learn a skill, especially since a child received and receives 1 to 3 two hour ABA sessions a day. One thing that I realized when using DTT, that since it consists of teaching the same skill at lest 5 times in a row and up to ten, a child would know what was coming next, because it was the same sd as the previous sd. This could cause a child to take longer to learn to generalize skills if skills from different programs were thrown in to see if it was really learned.

Another thing I realized after learning Verbal Behavior, that Discrete Trial Teaching used much more paper and skills take longer to master. I still believe DTT is a good method and scientific research proves that, but the research also proves the Verbal Behavior Approach works too. On my next page I will discuss Verbal Behavior and my experiences with using it for the last 2 years.

Here is a fact sheet about discrete trial teaching