Applied Behavior Analysis
While applied behavior analysis does involve discrete trial teaching, it is important to remember that discrete trials are just one component of ABA. ABA is, in fact, a broader term which simply means identifying factors in the environment which maintain problem behavior, and manipulating the environment to decrease undesirable behavior and increase desirable behavior. It is also important to note that ABA is not only used with children with autism spectrum disorder. ABA is a science that is applicable to solve a broad range of problems.
When appropriate for your child's learning style, applied behavior analysis curriculums involve teaching a set of skills in small steps. Each child has an individualized ABA curriculum based on research in Behavior Analysis literature and the individualized needs of each student. Each child’s curriculum emphasizes skills in attending, imitation, comprehension, use of language, play, motor, pre-academic, social, and self-help skills. If necessary, the curriculum may also include a plan to change specific behaviors that interfere with learning. This plan includes data collection, functional analysis, program development, and implementation to increase positive behavior change. The goal in every program is to generalize the skills taught in 1:1 instruction to typical and / or community settings. (TheraCare,2007).
As a developmental specialist it is my practice that when a child's program involves discrete trials, it is especially important to also combine discrete trials with Natural Environment Teaching. NET involves using the child's interests and natural environment to create opportunities for verbal interaction. Many theorists believe that this is the environment which is most effective for facilitating skills crucial for communication and language development. Therefore, this teaching method would lead to spontaneous production of those skills in the natural environment. (Mosier, 2011).