Discrete Trial Training
Discrete? Tell Me More.
The key aspect of Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is that it breaks behaviors down into very small, discrete components, and reinforces them methodically and sequentially to build up into one overall desirable behavior. Children with autism typically do not learn from their environment spontaneously, and therefore, may need extra cues or explicit instruction of skills that may come naturally to typically developing peers. Most need highly structured, repetitive instruction that requires them to engage actively with the environment in order to acquire new skills. Discrete trial teaching’s consistent, predictable nature makes it a popular choice for working with children with autism. Reinforcement in a discrete trial session provides children with autism added motivation for learning and socially interacting, which they may not possess inherently.
Discrete trial training provides a controlled way to isolate and reinforce behaviors that have complex antecedents or consequences, like how to behave at lunchtime in the cafeteria at school. When you break it down, you might be surprised by the number of different small hurdles that need to be cleared during a 40-minute lunch break: Recognizing the lunch bell… going to the cafeteria… lining up quietly and getting a tray… finding a place to sit in the social chaos of the cafeteria… cleaning up after yourself… and making it to the next class on time.