Discrete trial training (DTT) is a highly-structured training technique that involves a trainer instructing an individual with autism using a series of learning opportunities or ‘trials’. Each ‘trial’ has a definite beginning and end, which is why the technique is described as ‘discrete’.
The trainer begins each trial with a short, clear instruction or a question. The trainer may also prompt the learner, showing him how to respond correctly to the instruction or question.
If the learner does what the trainer wants, she will immediately reward him. For example, she may praise him or allow him to have something he wants. If the learner does not do what the trainer wants, she will repeat the instruction or try a slightly different approach.
DTT is the main – but not the only strategy – used to teach children with autism in early intensive behavioural interventions, such as the Lovaas programme.
There is a considerable amount of research evidence to suggest that discrete trial training can be a useful procedure as part of a broader programme of intervention for autistic children. However, if it is seen as an end in its own right, it is unlikely to produce lasting benefits.
Please see the Advanced version of this page for more information about this intervention, including relevant research studies and details of how we have ranked them.
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Last Updated : 12/06/2013 Back to Top