Helping Your Child Learn
Teaching in our center happens through a combination of Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) and Natural Environment Teaching (NET), which are considered the two most effective ways to teach.
Discrete Trial Instruction
DTI happens in a more structured environment. It can take place in different areas of our center, and our therapists have a number of selected tasks that they will work on with the child during the session, which usually lasts between 10-15 minutes. The therapist breaks the targeted skills into small tasks that are achievable for the individual. The child can be given a prompt from the therapist, for example, asking the child to raise their hand.
If the child completes the requested behavior, it is reinforced with a high preference object. When a behavior is reinforced, the child is more likely to repeat it in the future. If the child does not respond correctly, the therapist gives feedback and moves to the next prompt.
Natural Environment Teaching
NET is more of a free-flowing session. The therapist doesn’t always have as structured of a plan since it’s happening in the child’s environment. Instead, NET takes advantage of naturally occurring teaching opportunities. Our therapists use whatever is motivating the child at that time to help them learn.
If the child is playing with a toy, the therapist will use it as a teaching tool because the most powerful thing in that child’s world is the toy they want to play with at that moment. If the child’s toy of choice happens to be a phone, the therapist can use it to work with the child on their verbal skills by asking them to say “phone” or encouraging the child to ask (i.e., say “phone”) if they can play with it. This teaches the child the benefits of using verbal skills in their natural surroundings.
The therapist can then move on to other teaching targets. For example, the therapist may prompt the child to do other things with the phone, such as pressing certain buttons or imitating the “ring, ring” sound a phone makes.
NET allows children to work and play through their normal activities. It’s a fast-paced environment that uses the child’s desires in that moment to help them learn.