1. Discrete Trial Training (DTT):

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a method of teaching in simplified and structured steps. Instead of teaching an entire skill in one go, the skill is broken down and “built-up” using discrete trials that teach each step one at a time (Smith, 2001.) It is a one-to-one instructional approach used to teach skills in a planned, controlled, and systematic manner. DTT is used when a learner needs to learn a skill best taught in small repeated steps. Each trial or teaching opportunity has a definite beginning and end, thus the descriptor discrete trial. Within DTT, the use of antecedents and consequences is carefully planned and implemented.
The biggest misconception about DTT is that it is the same as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) when, in fact, DTT in just one of the methods used in ABA.

  • Learning Objectives
  • Define DTT
  • Explain the components of a discrete trial
  • Discuss using DTT for skill acquisition
  • Discuss advantages and disadvantages of DTT

2. Introduction to Verbal Behavior / Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB):

Verbal Behavior Therapy is based on theories of B.F. Skinner (1957) and uses the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to teach communication skills. It is a method of teaching language that focuses on the idea that a meaning of a word is found in its function (reason.) It capitalizes on the individual’s own motivation, teaching him or her to communicate their desires. The theory is that the ability to communicate your desires may reduce problematic behavior that functioned as a means for obtaining desires.

The Verbal Behavior intervention works on developing communication skills, including receptive and expressive language across the verbal operants of mand (requesting), tact (labeling), echoics (vocal imitation) and intraverbal (conversational skills.)

Verbal Behavior is a great approach that can be combined with other teaching methods such as Discrete Trial Training (DTT) or Natural Environment Training (NET). In fact, combining the total operants of Verbal Behavior across both DTT and NET may contribute to acquiring a more complete language repertoire (Sundberg& Michael, 2001.)

Learning Objectives

  • Define Verbal Behavior
  • Identify differences between Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior
  • Discuss the importance of motivation
  • Identify and define verbal operants of behavior
  • Discuss methods for teaching verbal operants

3. Teaching Non-Vocal Individuals using Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC):

Augmentative and alternative communication, also known as AAC, is a term that is used to describe various methods of communication that can help people who are unable to use vocal speech to communicate. AAC can benefit a wide range of individuals, including beginning communicators to more advanced communicators.

It is essential that people understand that there are 2 systems of ACC, unaided and aided. Unaided systems, like signing and gestures, do not require special materials or equipment, whereas aided systems use pictures, books and/or special assistive technology. The selection of which AAC system varies and is personalized to meet each AAC allows individuals to express their needs and wants, and more fully participate in decisions that affect their lives…..such that any individuals using AAC are successfully mainstreamed into schools with their age-appropriate peers.

Learning Objectives

  • Define Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Who benefits from AAC?
  • Discuss the various forms of AAC
  • Discussion about several AAC devices/applications

4. Data Collection and Graphing:

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) interventions/programs are data based and research driven. Therefore, when conducting ABA interventions & programs, data is continuously collected on the targeted behaviours. This allows those running the programmes to evaluate the efficacy of the teaching and treatment implementation on an on-going basis. This data could be the percentage of correct spellings in a test, or the amount of requests made by a student to take a break from work, or the amount of time a student spends out of his seat in a classroom.

The types of data that can be collected are numerous but the purpose of collecting data is to allow those running the interventions to ‘maintain direct and continuous contact with the behaviour under investigation’ (Cooper, et al. 2007, p. 127). Regardless, of the specific target behaviours, specific data-collection procedures are utilized, including visual displays, such as, graphs or charts.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss data sheets for challenging behaviors & skill acquisition
  • Data Collection for Challenging Behavior
  • Data Collection for Skill Acquisition
  • Identify common graphing errors
  • Discuss general guidelines for graphing
  • Reading & Interpreting graphs