Discrete Trial Training (DT)
Discrete Trial Training (DT) is one type of treatment based on applied behavior analysis principles (ABA). This teaching method involves breaking tasks down into simple elements and teaching the child through repetition. An individualized program is designed for each child so that the child’s specific strengths and weaknesses are appropriately addressed. Sessions are typically highly structured, and more teacher directed than child directed.
The goal of a DT program is to teach the child all that is required of a typically developing child of the same age. New students may focus on developing learning readiness skills, such as sitting in a chair, responding to his/her name, establishing joint attention and learning how to focus on teaching materials. Once these skills are learned, programs may work on imitation skills, learning to follow simple commands, and increasing receptive and expressive vocabulary (labels, requests, etc.). As the child progresses, the skills become more advanced, but the methodology and prompting techniques remain consistent. This method is designed to develop cognitive, play, social, and self-help skills.
The instruction is most often performed one-on-one in the home or school with therapists. Specific techniques include:
Breaking a skill into smaller parts
Teaching one sub-skill at a time until mastered
Providing opportunities for repetition in concentrated periods of time
Prompting and fading prompts as necessary to reach independence
Using reinforcement procedures
Flexibility and patience are extremely necessary for DT. Language, social and play skills typically develop over months and years of intervention