Speech Therapy

Discrete Trial Training for Autistic Children

Speech therapists have been trying to develop new intervention techniques to teach autistic children behavioral based skills. Applied Behavioral Analysis, Augmentative and Alternative Communication and the Discrete Trial Training (DTT) are a few methods that can help autistic children to cope with various behavioral as well as communication problems.

Discrete Trial Training: Keeping the various behavioral deficiencies of autistic children in mind, therapists have come up with the idea discrete training. Let us look at each deficiency and see how this training program would prove beneficial.

Attention: Autistic children cannot pay attention for longer time periods. They lack the focus to do it. DTT, thus breaks up long tasks into simpler and shorter ones to grasp the child’s attention. In due course of training, the child’s focus and attention increase and the shorter tasks are stretched into longer ones slowly.

Motivation: Autistic children are not as motivated as normal children when it comes to accomplishing tasks. Motivation in DTT is possible through recognition. Recognition of desired training behaviors through small rewards such food, toys et., could instill the required motivation. Even social praises can be quiet helpful in doing this.

Stimulus Control: Autistic children have a difficulty understanding routines of normal people. For instance, alarms, school bells, teachers’ requests et., In DTT, important stimuli like the teacher’s instructions are kept concise and clear so that the child is able to grasp the order. Upon the apt reaction to the instructions, the child is duly rewarded making him/her understand the importance of stimuli.

Generalization: Generalizing behaviors to specific environments is quiet tough for autistic children. In DTT, the program makes sure that the instructions passed on to the children change from time to time based on the content (the technical expressions) and context (who, when and where the instructions are given).

Observational Learning: DTT stresses on explicit skill learning and behavioral adaptation for autistic children. For autistic children, learning through observing is a humongous task. Thus, such difficult skills are explicitly taught in this procedure.

Communication: Both receptive and expressive communication in autistic children is very weak due to the inability to grasp the listener’s instruction or speech. In DTT, such instructions are made simpler in the early stages and in the due course receptive communication would grow stronger and more grasping complex instructions can be trained.

Discrete trial training is a program that concentrates on the behavioral development in autistic children. A particular behavioral task is trained in succession until the child is able to master it.

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