How are DTT and NET used Together in Pediatric ABA Therapy?

Developing a successful treatment plan is one of the most important elements of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. This can also be one of the most difficult aspects of the ABA therapist job description, as every child is different, and treatment methods are never one-size-fits-all. Throughout the course of ABA therapy, it can be helpful to incorporate multiple methods of applied behavior analysis. Two methods that are frequently used together are DTT, or Discrete Trial Training, and NET, or Natural Environment Teaching. So, why are these two methods often used together?

What is DTT therapy?
DTT therapy is a structured, evidence-based method for teaching socially significant behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder. These socially significant behaviors include adaptive skills used in daily life, academic skills, expressive and receptive communication, social skills, and more. Typically, DTT is used for children who are between two and nine years old who are still developing (or struggling to develop) these pivotal behaviors. An example of DTT might be teaching a child to use appropriate play skills by breaking it into different components.

What is the goal of DTT?
The goal of DTT therapy is building positive behaviors and targeting behaviors that are problematic. As with any applied behavior analysis method, the ABA therapist will work with the child to replace these problem behaviors with new positive behaviors (not just eliminate the original behavior). DTT achieves this by breaking the skills into smaller parts, which children learn gradually, rather than teaching the full skill or behavior at once.

What is NET therapy?
NET therapy is a bit different than DTT in the sense that it occurs in a natural environment or throughout the course of a child’s natural play behaviors. An example of NET would be working with the child in the home environment by teaching the child that they need to ask for a snack when they are hungry (to use their expressive language).

What is the goal of NET?
NET also works to build socially significant behaviors in children who are on the autism spectrum. Due to the fact that NET can occur in a variety of settings, the goal of NET is that the child will be able to generalize the skills that they learn to different environments.

How are DTT and NET used together?
While DTT is used by many ABA therapists to teach new skills and behaviors, NET is often used in conjunction with DTT to teach more complex skills, including executive functioning skills. NET is also used with DTT to help a child generalize skills. Since NET teaches skills in a natural environment (not necessarily a structured therapeutic exercise), children are more easily able to transfer the skills that they learn in NET to another setting.


Are you interested in learning more about how DTT and NET are used together?
Are you interested in ABA services for your child in the Chicago area? Contact us or call (773) 630-4400 to learn more about the range of services we provide for children who are on the autism spectrum at Chicago ABA Therapy, including applied behavior analysis therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.