The Advantages and Disadvantages of Natural Environment Training and Discrete Trial Teaching for Persons with Autism.

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By Jens
Words 1236
Pages 5
A decision that must be made is whether to use discrete trial training drills or incidental teaching to establish functional skills. Discrete trial training is conducted in a highly specified and structured manner, in which the instructor chooses and presents an antecedent stimulus related to the skill of interest, and when the student responds correctly, the response is reinforced. Naturalistic or incidental teaching is loosely structured, and is incorporated into a student’s ongoing routine and follows his or her interests. Variation in antecedent stimuli and respnses is emphasized and reinforcers for correct responses are tied to the student’s ongoing activites. Sundberg and Partington (1999) coined the term ‘natural environment teaching’ (NET) to refer to all procedures that focus on interactions between a teacher and a learner that arise in a natural environment.

DTT and NET are distinguished on the basis of who initiates the interaction. DTT refers to interactions initiated by the teacher and NET refers to interactions initiated by the learner. DTT and NET are best viewed on a spectrum from adult led, repeated instruction, to child led teaching opportunities that may or may not be repeated.

There are several benefits of using DTT when working with a child. One benefit is that the teacher controls the pace of the session and can therefore determine how many trials the child needs in order to master a specific skill or ability. Another advantage is that the response required, the stimuli used to teach (eg, 2d picture card) and the instructions given are specified (e.g. touch nose), thereby promoting consistency across tutors and parents. There is little thought involved on the part of the learner in DTT whilst use of reinforcement is quite clear.

For all of its benefits, DTT has been criticized for producing rigid responding in children. The…...

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