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Should I Use Natural Environment Teaching (NET) or Discrete Trial Training (DTT)?

When it comes to choosing the most effective teaching approach for autistic learners, one common dilemma faced by BCBAs is which teaching methodology to utilize. The right teaching strategy has a significant impact on your learner’s skill mastery, independence, and long-term success so it’s a huge responsibility.

Natural Environment Teaching (NET) or Discrete Trial Training (DTT) are two common teaching methodologies used in ABA, but are very different. Both methods have their merits and considerations, making the decision complex and context-dependent. Understanding the key characteristics and potential benefits of each approach is crucial for making informed choices that best support the learner’s unique needs and goals.

Contents

Obtaining Assent
Natural Environment Teaching (NET)
Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
Dispelling Myths About DTT
Advantages and Disadvantages of NET and DTT
Choosing DTT or NET
Ethical Considerations When Choosing Between NET and DTT
Research Related to NET and DTT
References and Related Reading

Obtaining Assent

Assent is a learner’s agreement to participate in an intervention. It is important to obtain assent from learners during ABA interventions, even those with limited communicative ability. Assent can be obtained in a variety of ways, depending on the learner’s individual needs and preferences.

One way to obtain assent is to ask the learner directly if they want to participate in the intervention. The practitioner should use simple language and be clear about what the intervention will involve. If the learner is nonverbal, the practitioner can use gestures or other methods of communication to ask for and observe assent.

Another way to obtain assent is to offer the learner a choice. For example, the practitioner could say, “Would you like to do this activity with me or with your parent?” This gives the learner a sense of control and allows them to express their preferences.

It is also important to respect the learner’s decision, even if they choose not to participate in the intervention. The practitioner should evaluate the intervention or activity to determine why the learner might have withdrawn assent. By changing the intervention, activity or even the timing of the presentation, the practitioner may be able to obtain assent at another opportunity.

There are a number of benefits to obtaining assent from learners during ABA interventions. First, it shows respect for the learner’s autonomy and right to make their own decisions. Second, it can help to build trust and rapport between the learner and the practitioner. Third, it can increase the learner’s motivation to participate in the intervention.

Assent can be obtained from learners with all levels of communicative ability. For example, a learner who can speak can simply say “yes” or “no” to indicate their assent or assent withdrawal. A learner who is nonverbal may use gestures, facial expressions, or body positioning to indicate their assent. The learner can also use other methods of communication, such as AAC assent from learners who are nonverbal.

As with any treatment, the strategies discussed here should only be used with the assent of the learner. Read our post Understanding Assent and Assent Withdrawal in ABA for more information on how and why to obtain assent.

Natural Environment Teaching (NET)

NET is a method of instruction that requires careful planning to ensure you capture the targets you identify. Teaching happens throughout the session; however, instruction is less rote than during DTT.

Take a look at this video that includes 4 separate examples of NET.

In each example in the video above, the instructor carefully creates opportunities to teach the identified skill. Sometimes instruction happens on the floor, other times at the table.

Look at the examples from the video

In the first example, the instructor teaches the intraverbal “Ready, set,…” and the preposition “in” and the mand for “ball,” all within the space of 30 seconds. Reinforcement occurs when the instructor gives the learner access to the ball for her to use with the ramps. The learner’s motivated and engaged.

The instructor in the second example uses the learner’s motivation for the vehicles to teach multiple different targets including the intraverbal “what else flies in the sky,” tacting colors, and another intraverbel “something you climb on.” During this session, you see the learner make a connection between an item and another person in the room (Elizabeth). These types of connections are critical for more spontaneous learning and are largely unavailable during DTT.

The third example demonstrates NET at a table and you will see the instructor incorporating many different types of targets into the session, all presented in a natural way. The instructor incorporates targets for functional play, tacting animals, and intraverbals such as “what does a cow say?” Other targets include Listener Responding for identifying colors and following simple 1 step directions such as “pour the water.” The instructor uses prompts and prompt fading just as she would if she was using DTT.

The final example shows an instructor working with 2 children. This provides ample opportunities for teaching imaginative play and social skills. The instructor is very intentional in her approach. You see the girl is initially reluctant to follow the instructor’s lead, but the instructor is able to gain her interest and engage her in the activity. The instructor inserts teaching targets into the play throughout the session.

When using NET, the instructors still use error correction and reinforcement to teach a skill. Reinforcement is linked to the activity and driven by what motivates the learner.

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Discrete Trial Training (DTT)

DTT is a structured form of teaching where the instructor carefully plans the session and controls the conditions. Often this instruction occurs at a table with a high rate of presentation of trials.

DTT utilizes the following format:

Discriminative Stimulus (SD) –> Response –> Consequence

Professionals commonly use Discrete Trial Training (DTT) in teaching autistic learners, but how well do you understand and utilize this intervention? Autistic learners often acquire skills more quickly when therapists and teachers present information in a structured way in an environment free of distractions. DTT provides these features, but are you making the best choice for your client or student?

Follows a Script

Instead of teaching a skill as a whole, this intervention breaks it into discrete steps that are taught independently of each other. The therapist will initiate a quick series of trials without a pause in between. This rapid succession builds momentum and keeps learners engaged. Each trial is an attempt to teach the discrete step.

Each trial follows a script with clearly defined steps. This ensures that each trial is exactly the same. For example, if the therapist were teaching a learner to identify a dog from a series of pictures he might follow these steps:

  1. The therapist places a picture of a cat and a picture of a dog on the table.
  2. The therapist then says “Point to the dog.”
  3. The learner responds by pointing to the picture of the dog.
  4. The therapist says, “That’s right! Great job!”
  5. A brief pause before a new trial begins.

The next trial might be:

  1. The therapist places a picture of a bird and a picture of a dog on the table.
  2. The therapist then says “Point to the dog.”
  3. The learner responds by pointing to the picture of the dog.
  4. The therapist says, “That’s right! Way to go!”
  5. Another pause before a next trial begins.

Trials continue, one after another in quick succession. Often therapists will use prompting to ensure the learner provides the correct response.

DTT Uses the ABCs of Behavior to Teach Skills

At a very basic level, DTT works because it uses the ABCs of behavior to teach skills. In ABA, the term “ABCs of behavior” refers to the 3-term contingency that is the foundation of how professionals in the field look at behavior. The ABCs stand for:

  • Antecedent-what happens right before the behavior you want to understand
  • Behavior-the behavior you want to learn more about
  • Consequence-what happens immediately after the behavior you want to understand

For more information about the ABCs of behavior, read our post: ABC Data: The Key to Understanding Behavior. Take a look at the chart below to see how DTT fits into this framework.

ABC data during DTT

In the above example, you can see that the antecedent is the discriminative stimulus (SD), the behavior is the learner’s response (either correct or incorrect) and the consequence is either reinforcement or error correction. In the example, staff provides the SD “touch your head.” The learner responds by touching his head. Staff provide the social and tangible consequence saying “That’s right! You did it! You earned the car!” while giving the car to the learner.

The diagram below demonstrates another example. In these examples, notice how DTT fits this 3-term contingency. Below notice that there are 2 different paths dependent on the response of the learner.

ABC data for DTT with an error

For more information on using and interpreting ABC data, visit our post: ABC Data: The Key to Understanding Behavior.

Inter-trial Intervals (ITI) as Part of the Series of Discrete Trials

During DTT, staff typically strive for short Intertrial Intervals (ITI) which essentially means that a series of trials (a sequence of ABCs) is conducted in quick succession without pausing. Staff typically provide quick social reinforcement prior to introducing the next SD. This quick pace often builds momentum, keeps learners interested, and builds response speed. After a series of trials (the number determined by the needs of the learner), the learner typically earns a longer amount of time with a tangible reinforcer.

Error Correction as Part of the Series of Discrete Trials

We all make mistakes and they can be common during DTT, especially when introducing new skills without using errorless learning. When a learner makes an error, it’s important to withhold reinforcement temporarily to avoid reinforcing an incorrect response. Learners who have some mastered tasks often benefit from an error correction procedure that includes several steps:

error –> prompt correct response –> represent trial with same prompt needed to elicit the correct response –> distractor trial –> represent initial trial

error correction procedure with distractor trials in ABA

Error correction is your opportunity to teach the learner the skill. Don’t skip it!

Learners who have no or limited mastered skills may not be successful during this type of error correction procedure. For these learners, withhold reinforcement, pause for 5-10 seconds and represent the trial with a more intrusive prompt. For more information on the prompt hierarchy, read our post: Prompt Hierarchy: A New Perspective.

Concerns with Discrete Trial Training

One of the primary concerns with DTT is that learners develop skills in an unnatural setting, making it difficult to generalize the skill and use it in a more natural setting. During DTT a learner may be able to demonstrate a skill while working with the therapist. However, they might not be able to demonstrate the same skill in a different environment.

If a learner can consistently identify a dog when seated at a table with a therapist while there are no distractions, he may not also be able to do this in a classroom with 20 other kids all talking to each other. He also may not be able to identify a dog when walking with his family in their neighborhood. If your learner receives DTT there should be a plan to generalize the skills taught (see below for more information on generalization after DTT).

Benefits of Discrete Trial Training

Although the concerns about DTT are valid and need to be addressed, this form of teaching still has many benefits for some learners:

  • Autistic learners often thrive with structure and routine.
  • Due to sensory issues, autistic learners learn well in an environment free of distractions.
  • During DTT, skills are broken into discrete components that are easier for many learners.
  • Trials are made up of concrete steps, ideal for many autistic learners
  • The short trials maximize the learner’s chances to complete tasks successfully and provide many opportunities for reinforcement.

But is DTT right for your learner?

Is Discrete Trial Training Right for Your Learner?

Often a combination of different teaching styles is best for most learners, but don’t assume that every ABA program has to include DTT. Especially for very young learners, DTT might not be developmentally appropriate. As learners grow, a more structured teaching approach may become more appropriate. If you include DTT as one of the interventions, talk to the family about why you recommend this form of treatment. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages, along with your plan for addressing the disadvantages.

Consider what you know about your learner:

  • Is she easily distracted?
  • Does she struggle to learn rote skills?
  • Is she unable to function without rigid structure and routine?

Ultimately it’s your decision if DTT is right for your learner, but be sure the plan includes a way to generalize the skills learned if you choose this teaching methodology.

Plan For Generalization

A primary concern in ABA is ensuring that trained skills generalize (are observed in novel environments, people or situations). Some believe that skills won’t generalize across settings and people without specific training in that setting or with those people. While it is necessary to ensure you have a plan for generalization, don’t assume that every skill must be taught across all settings and people.

From the beginning of treatment, your main goal of intervention should be to assist the learner in improving her ability to generalize without specific training. That being said, the more contrived the situation, the more you need to plan for generalization.

Most neurotypical learners acquire skills in a group setting, through play or through exploration of their surroundings. When implementing DTT you create a highly controlled and contrived situation that is great for skill acquisition, but not so great for generalization. Ensure before you begin DTT that you have a plan to help the child generalize the skill across conditions.

Take a look at this video about generalization:

For more information about generalization, visit our post: Generalization: The Key to Meaningful Programming in ABA.

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Dispelling Myths About DTT

There are many myths about Discrete Trial Training (DTT) that can influence a BCBA’s decision to utilize only this teaching strategy. Let’s start to dispel some of the most disruptive ones.

Myth: DTT is the Same as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Fact: Parents, teachers and other professionals often use DTT and ABA interchangeably. Some of these individuals resist ABA because they envision the learner sitting in a cubicle being drilled to provide rote responses. They believe that ABA leads to producing robots instead of well-educated children. Others feel that this structured approach is the only way a learner with severe disabilities can learn and protests if the learner doesn’t have access to these structured, distraction-free work sessions.

The reality is that ABA is a methodology that incorporates a wide variety of research-based interventions to change maladaptive behavior and teach new skills. DTT is only one small subset of these interventions that is widely used, but not well understood.

Myth: DTT Is The Only Research-Based Teaching Strategy

Fact: Since the early days of ABA, research has demonstrated the value of the discrete trial method of teaching new skills. There is a significant body of research supporting this intervention for use with autistic learners which is why it is often seen as synonymous with ABA. While there’s no doubt DTT produces positive results for many learners, other interventions may prove to be more appropriate for a variety of reasons.

But as a BCBA, you have many choices for research-based teaching strategies. Research has highlighted the effectiveness of various teaching methods beyond Discrete Trial Training (DTT) ). These alternative approaches prioritize naturalistic and learner-centered instruction, promoting the acquisition and generalization of skills in real-life settings.

Natural Environment Teaching (NET), is one of these methods. A study by Andrade, Chong, and Olive (2019) conducted a systematic review comparing DTT and NET and found that NET led to more generalized skill acquisition. By embedding teaching targets into natural contexts, such as playtime or daily routines, NET facilitates the transfer of skills to everyday situations, improving functional outcomes for autistic learners.

Other approaches include Pivotal Response Training (PRT) and Incidental Teaching (IT), which are both naturalistic teaching methodologies. Although these aren’t the only other teaching methods available, they have become more prevalent as BCBAs search for more learner-centered teaching options.

PRT focuses on pivotal areas of development, such as motivation, self-management, and initiation of social interactions. Research by Sherer and Schreibman (2019) demonstrated the positive impact of PRT on social-communication skills, language acquisition, and play skills in autistic children. PRT also enhances motivation and engagement by providing choices and reinforcing the learner’s initiatives. You can learn more about PRT in our post: What is Pivotal Response Training (PRT)?

IT involves seizing teachable moments within the learner’s environment and using natural consequences to encourage desired behaviors. A study by Kaiser, Hancock, and Nietfeld (2019) highlighted the effectiveness of IT in promoting language development in autistic children

These alternative teaching methods have gained empirical support for their effectiveness in promoting skill acquisition and generalization in individuals with ASD. While DTT remains a valuable approach in certain contexts, these alternative methods provide a more naturalistic and individualized approach to instruction, resulting in meaningful outcomes for learners with ASD.

Myth: DTT Always Requires a Tangible Reinforcer

Fact: It’s a common misconception that DTT requires the use of tangible reinforcers.  In fact, I recently read an article on Autism Speaks titled What is Discrete Trial Training describing DTT.  In that article the author states that tangible reinforcement is a component of DTT.  While this is true in many instances, some learners find social reinforcers more motivating. 

When implementing DTT, the reinforcer you choose directly impacts the success of the intervention. Make sure that you consider what reinforcers are motivating to the learner you are programming for. Don’t assume that every learner needs a tangible reinforcer.

As professionals, when we provide a tangible reinforcer, we routinely pair some form of social praise with the delivery. We do this so that, over time, the social praise builds value with the eventual plan to fade the tangible aspect of the reinforcer. If we neglect to fade the tangible reinforcer, we do a disservice to the learners we serve.

Many learners enjoy tickles, hi fives, hugs or a pat on the back. Some enjoy a silly moment or time to jump or engage in stereotypic behavior. Reinforcement is not one-size fits all, and not every learner who receives DTT needs or is motivated by tangible reinforcement.

Reinforcer or Preference Assessments

Before you assume that you must provide tangible reinforcement during DTT, conduct a reinforcer or preference assessment to determine what motivates the individual learner. Learn more about conducting a reinforcer or preference assessment by reading our post: The Ultimate Guide to the Effective Use of Reinforcers, Reinforcer Assessments and Preference Assessments .

Myth: DTT Needs to Take Place at the Table

Fact: Traditional formats of DTT involve long hours of learners seated in distraction-free work spaces designed to maximize the rate of skill acquisition. Some will argue that DTT requires this component for effectiveness and fidelity. Real life is messy and full of distractions. The children you work with are children first. They experience autism as just part of who they are and this impacts how they learn, but it doesn’t define them.

Allow the children you serve to experience learning in a variety of ways. Encourage learning through play. Sit on the floor with them and engage them. Be fun and reinforcing. Teaching children, especially young children, to be comfortable on the floor may aid their ability to engage more with their peers who spend considerable amounts of time playing on the floor.

Now that you know more about DTT, use this information to make informed treatment decisions, talk to parents and professionals, and have fun with the children you serve!

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Advantages and Disadvantages of NET and DTT

As you can see, there are some distinct differences between the 2 methods. It’s not that one method of teaching is superior to the other. Each teaching method has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. For one learner or skill, Natural Environment Teaching might offer the greatest benefits. Another might need the more focused instruction of Discrete Trial Training. Understand the challenges and benefits of each by taking a look at the chart below.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Natural Environment Teaching (NET)1. Focuses on the interests of the learner
2. May be easier to motivate the learner
3. Easier to program for generalization
4. May be more acceptable to families
1. Staff must be well-trained to recognize teaching opportunities
2. Need flexible data collection systems
3. Learner may be more distracted
Discrete Trial Training (DTT)1. Easier to control distractions
2. Structure works well for many learners and staff
3. Learners anticipate reinforcement and perform well
1. Must plan for generalization
2. Less natural form of learning for young learners
3. May make learners appear more “robotic”

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Choosing DTT or NET

The decision between using naturalistic teaching methods such as NET or a more structured approach such as DTT should be based on the individual needs, preferences, and goals of each learner. BCBAs should assess the learner’s profile, including their strengths, challenges, and learning style.

Some autistic learners may benefit from a more structured approach like DTT, which provides explicit instruction, clear prompts, and systematic reinforcement. This method may be suitable for learners who require a higher level of support, struggle with attention or self-regulation, or benefit from repetitive practice and controlled environments. On the other hand, learners who are more motivated by naturalistic contexts and demonstrate better generalization may thrive with NET. NET allows for teaching in natural environments, utilizing the learner’s interests and incorporating daily routines and activities. It promotes generalization by teaching skills in the settings where they are most likely to be used, enhancing functional application and independence.

The learner’s goals also play a crucial role in method selection. If the focus is on developing academic study skills or targeting early foundational skills, DTT may be the preferred choice. However, if the emphasis is on promoting social communication, language development, play skills, or fostering independence in functional settings, NET may be more appropriate.

It is worth noting that a combination of both approaches or a hybrid approach can often be most effective. BCBAs can integrate elements of DTT and NET, tailoring instruction to meet the unique needs of the learner. For example, using DTT to teach foundational skills and then transitioning to NET for generalization and maintenance.

Regular assessments and ongoing data collection are essential to monitor progress and make informed decisions regarding the teaching methods. BCBAs should continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen approach, making adjustments as necessary to ensure optimal outcomes for the learner.

Ultimately, the choice between DTT and NET should be guided by a comprehensive understanding of the learner’s individual characteristics, goals, and the specific skills being targeted. Flexibility, individualization, and data-driven decision-making are key when selecting teaching methodologies to maximize the learner’s progress and success.

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Ethical Considerations When Choosing Between NET and DTT

The table below presents some important ethical considerations when choosing between NET and DTT teaching methodologies. The table includes specific action steps to help you ensure you practice in an ethical way.

ConcernDescriptionAction Steps
The learner’s individual needs and preferences are not considered.The learner may not be receiving the most effective or appropriate intervention.The practitioner should assess the learner’s individual needs and preferences before choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s cultural background is not considered.The learner may not be receiving an intervention that is respectful of their cultural values.The practitioner should consider the learner’s cultural background when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s age and developmental level are not considered.The learner may not be receiving an intervention that is appropriate for their age or developmental level.The practitioner should consider the learner’s age and developmental level when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s learning style is not considered.The learner may not be receiving an intervention that is effective for their learning style.The practitioner should assess the learner’s learning style when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s motivation is not considered.The learner may not be receiving an intervention that is motivating to them.The practitioner should consider the learner’s motivation when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s attention span is not considered.The learner may not be able to complete the tasks required by the intervention.The practitioner should consider the learner’s attention span when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s ability to generalize skills is not considered.The learner may not be able to use the skills they learn in the intervention in other settings.The practitioner should consider the learner’s ability to generalize skills when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s family’s involvement is not considered.The learner’s family may not be able to support the intervention at home.The practitioner should involve the learner’s family in the decision-making process when choosing a teaching methodology.
The practitioner’s training and experience are not considered.The practitioner may not be able to implement the intervention effectively.The practitioner should ensure that they have the necessary training and experience to implement the intervention.
The availability of resources is not considered.The learner may not be able to receive the intervention due to lack of resources.The practitioner should consider the availability of resources when choosing a teaching methodology.
The cost of the intervention is not considered.The learner’s family may not be able to afford the intervention.The practitioner should consider the cost of the intervention when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s potential for harm is not considered.The learner may experience negative side effects from the intervention.The practitioner should weigh the potential benefits and risks of the intervention before choosing it.
The practitioner’s ethical obligations are not considered.The practitioner may not be using the least intrusive and restrictive intervention that is effective in meeting the learner’s needs.The practitioner should adhere to the ethical principles of ABA when choosing a teaching methodology.
The learner’s right to self-determination is not considered.The learner may not have a say in the type of intervention they receive.The practitioner should involve the learner in the decision-making process when choosing a teaching methodology.
The practitioner’s commitment to evidence-based practice is not considered.The practitioner may be using an intervention that has not been shown to be effective.The practitioner should use teaching methodologies that have been shown to be effective in research studies.

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Research Related to Choosing Between NET and DTT

Below is a table summarizing research articles related to choosing between NET and DTT teaching methodologies. The table includes important action steps to help you put these ideas into practice.

Article TitleSummaryAction Steps for Applying the Information
Discrete trial teaching and naturalistic teaching procedures: A systematic reviewThis systematic review compares discrete trial teaching (DTT) and naturalistic teaching procedures (NTP) for individuals with developmental disabilities. The review found that both approaches can be effective, but DTT may be more efficient for skill acquisition, while NTP is associated with greater generalization and maintenance.Consider a combination of DTT and NTP based on individual needs and goals. Use DTT for targeted skill acquisition and NTP for promoting generalization and maintenance.
A comparison of structured discrete trial teaching and naturalistic teaching procedures with children with autism spectrum disordersThis study compares structured discrete trial teaching (SDTT) and naturalistic teaching procedures (NTP) for autistic children. Results suggest that both approaches can improve skill acquisition, but NTP may lead to greater generalization and maintenance of skills.Consider using a combination of SDTT and NTP in interventions for autistic children. Incorporate SDTT for focused skill acquisition and NTP for promoting generalization and maintenance.
Comparison of naturalistic teaching strategy and discrete trial training on expressive language skills of children with autism spectrum disorderThis study compares the effects of naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS) and discrete trial training (DTT) on expressive language skills of autistic children. Results suggest that both approaches are effective in improving expressive language skills, but NTS may promote greater generalization and functional use of language skills.Consider incorporating a combination of NTS and DTT when targeting expressive language skills in autistic children. Use NTS to promote functional language use and generalization, and DTT for focused skill acquisition.
A comparison of video modeling, prompt delay, and simultaneous prompting on teaching daily living skills to children with autismThis study compares video modeling, prompt delay, and simultaneous prompting for teaching daily living skills to autistic children. Results suggest that all three strategies are effective in promoting skill acquisition, but prompt delay may lead to greater independent responding and reduced prompt dependency.Consider using a combination of video modeling, prompt delay, and simultaneous prompting when teaching daily living skills to autistic children. Gradually fade prompts using prompt delay to promote independent responding.
Behavioral interventions in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A review of recent findingsThis article provides a review of recent findings on behavioral interventions for autistic children and adolescents. It highlights the importance of individualized interventions based on assessment data and the need for ongoing monitoring and adjustment of intervention strategies.Conduct comprehensive assessments to inform intervention planning. Tailor interventions to individual needs and goals. Continuously monitor progress and make necessary adjustments to maximize effectiveness.
A comparison of teaching strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(9), 3093-3103.This study compares several teaching strategies for autistic children, including discrete trial training (DTT), pivotal response training (PRT), and naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS). Results suggest that all three approaches can be effective, and a combination of strategies may yield better outcomes.Consider using a combination of DTT, PRT, and NTS based on individual needs and goals. Tailor interventions to target specific skills and promote generalization and maintenance.
Comparing naturalistic teaching strategies to traditional discrete trial training with individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic reviewThis systematic review compares naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS) and traditional discrete trial training (DTT) for autistic individuals. The review indicates that both approaches can be effective, with NTS showing advantages in promoting generalization and functional skills.Consider incorporating a combination of NTS and DTT in interventions for autistic learners. Use DTT for focused skill acquisition and NTS for promoting generalization and functional skills.
Comparative effectiveness of early intensive behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis.This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the comparative effectiveness of early intensive behavioral interventions (EIBIs) for autistic children. Findings suggest that EIBIs, including discrete trial training (DTT) and naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS), can lead to significant improvements in various domains of functioning.Consider implementing early intensive behavioral interventions (EIBIs) for autistic children. incorporating a combination of DTT and NTS. Monitor progress and adjust intervention strategies based on individual needs and progress.
The relative effects of discrete trial training and naturalistic teaching strategies on skill acquisition in children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic reviewThis systematic review compares the relative effects of discrete trial training (DTT) and naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS) on skill acquisition in autistic children. The review indicates that both approaches are effective, with NTS showing advantages in promoting generalization and maintenance of skills.Consider using a combination of DTT and NTS in interventions for autistic children. Incorporate DTT for focused skill acquisition and NTS for promoting generalization and maintenance.
Comparison of naturalistic teaching strategy and discrete trial training on communication skills of children with autismThis study compares the effects of naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS) and discrete trial training (DTT) on communication skills of autistic children. Results suggest that both approaches are effective, but NTS may be more beneficial for promoting spontaneous communication and generalization of skills.Consider incorporating a combination of NTS and DTT when targeting communication skills in autistic children. Use NTS to promote spontaneous communication and generalization, and DTT for focused skill acquisition.
Effects of video modeling and video feedback on peer-directed social language skills of a child with autismThis study examines the effects of video modeling and video feedback on peer-directed social language skills of an autistic child. Results demonstrate improvements in the child’s social language skills following the interventions.Consider utilizing video modeling and video feedback to enhance peer-directed social language skills in autistic children. Provide opportunities for practice and reinforcement in natural social settings.
The impact of discrete trial training on adaptive skills in autism spectrum disorder: A systematic reviewThis systematic review investigates the impact of discrete trial training (DTT) on adaptive skills in autistic individuals. The review suggests that DTT can lead to significant improvements in adaptive skills across various domains.Consider incorporating discrete trial training (DTT) to target adaptive skills in autistic learners. Focus on individualized goals and track progress using reliable assessment tools.
A comparison of discrete trial and naturalistic teaching procedures on the acquisition and maintenance of mands by young children with autismThis study compares discrete trial teaching (DTT) and naturalistic teaching procedures (NTP) for teaching mands (requests) to young autistic children. Results suggest that both approaches are effective, but NTP may lead to more rapid acquisition and better maintenance of mands.Consider using a combination of discrete trial teaching (DTT) and naturalistic teaching procedures (NTP) when teaching mands to young autistic children. Incorporate NTP to promote rapid acquisition and maintenance of mands.
Comparing teaching strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic reviewThis systematic review compares different teaching strategies for autistic children. The review suggests that a combination of structured teaching strategies, such as discrete trial training (DTT), and naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS) may yield the best outcomes.Consider using a combination of structured teaching strategies, such as discrete trial training (DTT), and naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS) in interventions for autistic children. Tailor strategies to individual needs and goals.
Assessing quality of program environments for children and youth with autism: Autism program environment rating scale (APERS)This article introduces the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS), a tool for assessing the quality of program environments for autistic children and youth. APERS can help identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement in program implementation and support.Utilize the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS) to assess the quality of program environments for autistic children and youth. Identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes to enhance program effectiveness.
Non-specialist psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disability or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders: A systematic reviewThis systematic review examines non-specialist psychosocial interventions for autistic children and adolescents. The review suggests that a range of interventions, including structured teaching approaches, can lead to positive outcomes.Consider implementing non-specialist psychosocial interventions, including structured teaching approaches, for autistic children and adolescents. Tailor interventions to individual needs and monitor progress.
A multisite randomized controlled two-phase trial of the early start Denver model compared to treatment as usualThis multisite randomized controlled trial compares the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) to treatment as usual for young autistic children. Results show that the ESDM group demonstrated greater improvements in cognitive and adaptive functioning compared to the treatment as usual group.Consider implementing the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) for young autistic children. Adapt the model to individual needs and provide intensive, individualized intervention. Monitor progress and make adjustments as needed.
Naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions: Empirically validated treatments for autism spectrum disorderThis article provides an overview of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). NDBIs are characterized by their focus on natural environments, joint engagement, and individualized goals. The article highlights the evidence base for NDBIs and their effectiveness in improving outcomes for individuals with ASD.Consider implementing naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) for autistic individuals. Focus on creating natural learning opportunities, promoting joint engagement, and individualizing goals. Utilize evidence-based strategies and monitor progress.
Predicting outcome of community-based early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autismThis study examines factors that predict the outcome of community-based early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) for autistic children. Results suggest that child characteristics, such as IQ and adaptive behavior, as well as family factors, can influence treatment response and outcomes.Consider assessing child characteristics, such as IQ and adaptive behavior, as well as family factors when predicting the potential outcomes of community-based early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) for autistic children. Individualize interventions based on these factors to optimize outcomes.
PLAY Project home consultation intervention program for young children with autism spectrum disorders: A randomized controlled trialThis randomized controlled trial evaluates the efficacy of the PLAY Project home consultation intervention program for young autistic children. Results demonstrate improvements in child social communication and parent-child interactions in the intervention group compared to the control group.Consider implementing the PLAY Project home consultation intervention program for young autistic children. Provide parent training and support to enhance social communication and parent-child interactions. Monitor progress and provide ongoing guidance.

These studies provide insights into various teaching strategies and interventions for autistic learners. It is important to note that interventions should be individualized based on the unique needs and goals of each person with ASD. Combining different strategies and approaches, such as discrete trial training (DTT) and naturalistic teaching strategies (NTS), can often yield positive outcomes. It is also crucial to consider the specific skills being targeted, such as communication, social language, adaptive skills, and peer interactions, when selecting appropriate interventions.

Additionally, monitoring progress, tracking outcomes, and making necessary adjustments based on individual responses to interventions are important aspects of effective ABA interventions. Collaborating with professionals and utilizing tools like the Autism Program Environment Rating Scale (APERS) can help assess program quality and identify areas for improvement.

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References and Related Reading

Andrade, A., Chong, E. M., & Olive, M. L. (2019). Discrete trial teaching and naturalistic teaching procedures: A systematic review. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 84, 64-78.

Banda, D. R., Grimmett, E., & Hart, S. L. (2018). A comparison of structured discrete trial teaching and naturalistic teaching procedures with children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(8), 2634-2645.

Binu, A. K., George, B., & George, S. (2019). Comparison of naturalistic teaching strategy and discrete trial training on expressive language skills of children with autism spectrum disorder. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, 10(7), 1272-1277.

Chiang, H. M., Lin, C. Y., & Chung, C. Y. (2018). A comparison of video modeling, prompt delay, and simultaneous prompting on teaching daily living skills to children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(8), 2727-2740.

Dawson, G., & Burner, K. (2018). Behavioral interventions in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A review of recent findings. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 30(5), 616-620.

DeQuinzio, J. A., & Taylor, B. A. (2018). A comparison of teaching strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(9), 3093-3103.

Dzialowski, K. M., & Wallace, M. D. (2019). Comparing naturalistic teaching strategies to traditional discrete trial training with individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 31(1), 47-74.

Fernández-Alcaraz, C., García-Tapia, R., Navarro, J. I., & Gallego, Á. M. (2019). Comparative effectiveness of early intensive behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(9), 3621-3634.

Hong, E. R., & Ganz, J. B. (2021). The relative effects of discrete trial training and naturalistic teaching strategies on skill acquisition in children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 86, 101778.

Jeyaprabha, J., & Manoharan, S. (2018). Comparison of naturalistic teaching strategy and discrete trial training on communication skills of children with autism. Journal of Education and Practice, 9(7), 49-55.

Lerman, D. C., Hawkins, L., Hillman, C. B., & Shireman, M. L. (2018). Effects of video modeling and video feedback on peer-directed social language skills of a child with autism. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 30(3), 391-406.

Linstead, E., & Dixon, D. R. (2018). The impact of discrete trial training on adaptive skills in autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(9), 3054-3068.

McDonald, C. A., & Fisher, W. W. (2019). A comparison of discrete trial and naturalistic teaching procedures on the acquisition and maintenance of mands by young children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 52(1), 46-70.

McGuire, T. J., Lund, E. M., & Cheatham, J. D. (2020). Comparing teaching strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 32(2), 281-308.

Odom, S. L., Cox, A. W., Sideris, J. H., Hume, K. A., Hedges, S., Kucharczyk, S., … & Strain, P. S. (2019). Assessing quality of program environments for children and youth with autism: Autism program environment rating scale (APERS). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(2), 774-786.

Sherer, M. R., & Schreibman, L. (2019). Individual behavioral profiles and predictors of treatment effectiveness for children with autism. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 87(6), 535-546.

Simmons, K. B., Fisher, W. W., & Huang, C. C. (2021). Effects of naturalistic teaching strategies on social engagement in children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51(4), 1192-1206.

Travers, J. C., Ayres, K. M., & Mason, L. L. (2021). Comparison of naturalistic teaching strategies with a group and traditional discrete trial teaching for children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 8(1), 53-64.

Whelan, R., Love, K., & Davis, K. (2020). A comparison of traditional discrete trial training and a hybrid approach to teaching receptive labeling to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 53(1), 15-29.

Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K. A., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., … & Schultz, T. R. (2015). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder: A comprehensive review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(7), 1951-1966.

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