Discrete trial training (DTT), also known as discrete trial teaching, is an instructional method that breaks down skills into discrete components and teaches them one by one. DTT can be an extremely effective teaching strategy for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). DTT is associated with applied behavioral analysis.
What does it involve?
DTT may be utilized by child psychologists, special education teachers, behavior analysts, or various types of therapy providers. Ask your child’s therapy provider whether they are trained in the use of DTT. The therapy provider will customize the tasks taught during DTT to the child’s individual needs. In order to be as effective as possible, DTT should be used several hours each week in intensive sessions.
In DTT, each skill is broken down into components that are taught in trials, or teaching attempts. Each trial is taught in several concrete steps. There are short pauses between each trial. In each trial, the child is given a clear instruction. At first, the child may be given a prompt wherein they are shown how to give the correct response. If the child gives a correct response, they may receive verbal praise, a toy or a piece of candy. If the child gives an incorrect response, the therapist will provide the correct response. Trials are usually carefully scripted for consistency.
As DTT progresses, discrete skills are linked together into more complex skills. Children learn to perform the skills more quickly and efficiently. Eventually, children learn to generalize the skills across environments and contexts.
The goal of discrete trial training is to increase the skill sets of autistic children and allow them to function more effectively in daily life.
An article published in 2001 states that DTT is one of the most important educational methods used for children with autism.
If you pay privately for therapy, it can become expensive.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to travel to therapy appointments.
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