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Navigating DTT and NET in ABA Therapy

In the dynamic realm of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, we continuously seek the most impactful strategies to cater to our learners’ diverse needs. This month, I want to delve into two foundational methodologies within ABA: Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Natural Environment Training (NET). These approaches are integral to our ABA therapeutic framework, addressing various aspects of learning, development and growth.

At the Arizona Institute for Autism, we utilize the structured nature of DTT to lay the groundwork for foundational skills. This foundation paves the way for the enrichment and generalization of these skills through the engaging approaches of NET.

Insight into Discrete Trial Training (DTT): 

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a structured technique that breaks down learning skills into small, achievable steps. By simplifying complex skills into smaller benchmarks, DTT facilitates easier learning and mastery of new skills.The hallmark of DTT lies in its structured teaching environment, enabling concentrated learning sessions with minimal distractions. DTT allows opportunities for immediate and consistent feedback, optimizing each learning opportunity. This method is especially beneficial for children who thrive on structured routines or are in the early stages of skill acquisition. DTT can be tailored to meet each learner’s specific developmental needs.

Exploring Natural Environment Training (NET):

On the other hand, Natural Environment Training (NET) emphasizes learning within everyday natural context, making learning experience more relevant and impactful for the child. It fosters dynamic interaction between the therapist and the learner, creating a learning environment that adapts to the natural flow of engagement. NET leverages the learner’s motivation and interests as the cornerstone for learning, promoting spontaneous skill use and generalization.This approach is particularly effective for enhancing social skills, communication, and any learning objectives that benefit from real-world contexts. It facilitates the generalization of the learned skills into other settings, due to the skills being taught in the context of the natural environment, making NET an effective approach for teaching functional life skills.

Combining Strengths for Comprehensive Development:

Integrating DTT and NET allows us to create a  comprehensive therapeutic experience that meets the diverse needs of our learners. By employing both methodologies ensure not only the efficacy of learning, but also extend and apply the acquired skills  across various settings.

In Summary, leveraging the combined strengths of  DTT and NET enhances  our therapeutic practices, amplifying our capability to foster significant and lasting development.

For more information on ABA Therapy and autism services offered by the Arizona Institute for Autism or to book your complimentary consultation, visit us at, or please contact us at 480.687.7099, or email If you are looking for more applied behavioral analysis and ASD diagnosis tips, check out AIA’s Clinical Director, Rula Diab, monthly blog posts!


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