DTT: How it is Different from PRT in Pediatric ABA Therapy?

The world of applied behavior analysis has grown significantly since it was introduced in the 1960s, which has led to the emergence of new treatment methods and techniques. Applied behavior analysis, or ABA therapy, focuses on understanding the function of the behavior, the behavior itself, as well as the consequence of the behavior. ABA has been proven effective by empirical evidence, so it is widely used to treat behavioral issues, as well as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Since every child has unique abilities and needs in their ABA treatment plan, new techniques that follow the general basis of ABA have emerged, including DTT and PRT.

What is DTT?
DTT, or Discrete Trial Training, treats behavior in a structured way by approaching skills in pieces, rather than as a whole. As the child is working with their therapists to develop pivotal skills in DTT, their ABA therapist will use reinforcements to motivate the child. An example of a reinforcement might be their favorite toy or an object of high-interest. This method is commonly used to treat children with autism, as there is also empirical evidence to support its effectiveness.

What is PRT?
PRT, or Pivotal Response Training, treats behavior in a natural way. PRT might be provided during ABA therapy by an ABA therapist, but this technique can also be used by clinical psychologists, parents and caregivers, or teachers. PRT also focuses on general pivotal skills, such as social skills and motivation. One of the most important aspects of PRT is positive reinforcement that is directly related to the activity or exercise. For example, if the therapist is working with the child on using expressive communication to ask for their favorite train (and other toys), then the therapist will give the train to the child to play with if they [the child] successfully asks for the train.

How are DTT and PRT different?
There are important distinctions to remember when comparing DTT and PRT, particularly that PRT is less structured than DTT. While DTT follows a structure to build skills, PRT occurs in a natural environment through play. PRT is also unique in that it is initiated by children. If therapy is initiated by children, the session is led by the motivation of the child. For example, if the child is motivated to play with their favorite toy, then the therapist and child will work on building communication skills to eventually ask to play with that toy.

Could your child benefit from either DTT or PRT?
Chicago ABA Therapy provides pediatric ABA therapy in Chicago, as well as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and a therapeutic preschool program.

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