DTT, is discrete trial training, gets its name from its discrete beginning and ending. It is a highly structured therapy that occurs in rapid succession. Tasks are presented until they reach a pre-determined mastery criterion. DTT is started with a cue to respond or instruction, and the child’s response is followed by reinforcement or correction. Each time the task is presented, the same components are used in the same structured manner, as instructed by the BCBA. Because of its standardized format, DTT is easy for multiple therapists to use consistently between sessions and settings.
DTT is most commonly used for skills that require repetition or are not intrinsically motivating. It is also commonly used for new skills. This method, by its very nature, reduces environmental variables that may interfere with or take control over a child’s learning experience.
NET, or natural environment training is what we, as parents, do with our children on a daily basis. NET occurs, as said in the name, in the natural environment. Here, a therapist will follow a child’s lead, taking advantage of a child’s natural interests and motivation to create learning opportunities. This method has many advantages! It can be used anywhere and opportunities can be created for many skills; communication, pretend play, joint attention, turn taking.
There are a few drawbacks to NET because there is not always a specific protocol or step-by-step instructions like in DTT. It can be difficult to keep up with a child’s interests and keep goals functional and the interests of a child can often change frequently. In addition, there are less obvious roles of a stimulus, reinforcer and consequence and there can be areas targeted for implementation can be limited.
Article written by Melissa Roberts, RBT
Extinction is a method used in ABA therapy to discontinue reinforcement previously given to challenging behaviors. The way we react to problem behaviors can sometimes increase rather than decrease the behaviors. Often times, this is done unintentionally. By modifying our response to the challenging behavior, we can decrease its occurrence.
Extinction is never the ONLY part of a behavior plan. Plans for problem behaviors are created by the child's BCBA, and involve determining the function of the problem behavior, changing our response to that behavior when it occurs by not attending to it, and teaching the child an alternative, functional, and appropriate manner to achieve the desired outcome.
During extinction, we often see an extinction burst, or an increase in the occurrence of the problem behavior. Sometimes a child will even resort to more intense behaviors or try alternative inappropriate behaviors when the original problem behavior no longer results in what the child wants.
Hang on!! This too shall pass … because you will not attend to it! By doing so, the child will learn that they should follow your instruction and choose the alternative, appropriate, and functional behavior that you are reinforcing.
If you adhere to this behavior plan, as instructed by your therapist, you will begin to see the behavior decline and over time, stop altogether.
Please beware!!! What's the worst you can do? The worst thing you can do is to start an extinction plan but occasionally give in. By occasionally giving in, you are only teaching your child that their behavior must reach a certain intensity or duration before you will response. In a manner of speaking, this will only intensify and prolong the initial behavior you were hoping to decrease.
So, stay strong and stick to your extinction plan!! You can do it! And we will help you.
Blog article written by Melissa Roberts, RBT
Sticker charts, M&Ms, and a few high fives is not an ABA program! How can a parent determine what an ABA program is and if it’s being implemented correctly?
When piecing together your ABA team, the first step is to make sure that the program and treatment is under the supervision of a certified professional. The BACB (the credentialing board for Behavior Analysts) restricts the practice of ABA to certified professionals (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) or individuals under direct supervision of certified professionals (Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts and Registered Behavior Technicians).
After you have your professionals in place, evaluate the program using the
7 Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis:
The most influential and widely cited review of the literature regarding efficacy of treatments for Autism is the National Research Council's book Educating Children with Autism (2001) which concluded that ABA was the best research supported and most effective treatment for the main characteristics of Autism.
Yes, ABA is an effective treatment for Autism, but it is also a very effective treatment for children who engage in challenging behaviors or have other developmental or intellectual disabilities. ABA is also great for language acquisition, educational goals, children with developmental delays or speech/language delays. ABA has helped children with a variety of challenging behaviors such as self injury, frequent or high intensity meltdowns, physical aggression, challenges with peers and social situations, elopement or wandering, difficulties with leisure skills, deficits or difficulties with daily living skills/hygiene, etc!
Interestingly enough, ABA is also used in fields outside of special needs/education. ABA is being studied and used in organizational settings (industries, factories, work place environments), environmental initiatives (decrease littering behaviors!), psychotherapy, substance abuse, sports, health and exercise, gerontology,...the list goes on!
If you're not sure if ABA is appropriate for your child, always ASK for a consultation!
~ Elizabeth Gagliardi, MSSW, BCBA owner and behavior analyst for ABA Interventions.
I love Applied Behavior Analysis. When I say LOVE, I mean I have a passion for working with children that need a specialized way of learning. It took two major life experiences until I picked up on the signs that I was meant to work with children with special needs.
Raina. She was my introduction to a Picture Exchange Communication program and drove my passion and determination to help children. I was at a nutrition clinic in Guatemala with an organization called Hearts in Motion when a group of us saw a nervous, shy little girl. She was dropped off at the clinic and had not spoken a word. One of the leaders in the group drew a ball on an index card (because Boardmaker, laminators, velco and fantastic PECS folders are limited in Guatemala) and started attempting to get Raina to make a communicative exchange. We had limited time with Raina and making such a big change in her communication methods wasn’t as doable as I hoped it would be. I left her in smiles and with plenty of hugs, but no communication. The time and training it takes to implement a communication system wasn’t available, but it was necessary. I returned with the drive to help children, more importantly to learn how to help kids talk and communicate. I was told that I wasn’t going to Guatemala to change the people, but the people would change me.
Going to Guatemala won't change the country, but it will change you.
It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I learned the most effective way to help children communicate. While in graduate school, I picked up a part time job as a clinical living support provider with a family of a nine year old boy. I was introduced to a behavior analyst and the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. My part time job turned into all I could think about and I researched and put together as many tools as I could to teach this boy how to imitate, match and communicate. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and scheduled meetings with the child’s behavior analyst and learned as much as I could. I followed the behavior plan and programs, but I needed to know more. I then signed up for ABA courses on top of my graduate school course load and decided I needed to be a behavior analyst for this nine year old boy and for all of the kids like Raina. I learned fast, completed my courses, and worked with countless number of children and families before finally becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
Written by Elizabeth Gagliardi, MSSW, BCBA. Behavior Analyst and Owner of ABA Interventions. 901.517.8269