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ABA Therapy

Examples Of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy is a highly customizable autism treatment method that blends a variety of methods and approaches to teach important skills and behaviors to children with autism. An ABA therapy professional will utilize a variety of therapeutic methods to teach functional and behavior skills to a child with autism, including:

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) for Children With Autism

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a structured autism therapy approach that works well for fairly predictable situations. Usually, DTT is deployed to teach objective information, such as the alphabet, or a specific skill, such as putting on a shirt. The skill is broken down into small, sequential steps that are taught one at a time, making the learning process digestible for the child.

DTT might be deployed to teach a child with autism how to brush his teeth. The child will learn each step individually, such as:

  • Retrieving the toothbrush and toothpaste from the cupboard.

  • Opening the toothpaste tube

  • Applying toothpaste to the toothbrush.

  • Wetting the toothbrush.

  • Brushing teeth at a set time.

  • Rinsing and spitting.

Depending on the child’s age and abilities, they may not be capable of more complex steps, such as holding the toothbrush in one hand and using their other hand to squeeze the tube to apply the toothpaste. These steps will be highly customized based on each child’s development level and needs.

Each step of a DTT progression is likely to be repeated many times. To the untrained eye, the repetitive nature of DTT can seem very boring, but the approach is well suited to how many children with autism learn.

You can learn more about Discrete Trial Training by reading the blog.

Natural Environment Teaching (NET) for Children With ASD

While DTT teaches fairly objective skills, Natural Environment Teaching (NET) provides children with elastic skills that they can apply to multiple situations. NET is an excellent approach for the acquisition of everyday skills for children with autism and the ability to adapt one’s approach based on the nuance of a situation.

For example, tooth brushing happens almost exclusively in the bathroom. However, a child with autism may be asked to help clean up in multiple settings: The living room, their bedroom, the classroom, an autism center, and more. The process will differ slightly in each context.

NET can help a child with autism identity:

  • The request for help with cleanup. This may include abstract concepts, such as why cleanup matters in general and in a particular context.

  • Items that must be cleaned up.

  • The designated bin, drawer, or other receptacles for the items that must be cleaned up.

In other words, NET makes it possible for a child to always understand what’s expected of them when someone says, “Time to clean up!”

Young children playing with educational toys

Prompting and Fading

The purpose of prompting and fading is to teach a certain skill and then gradually reduce the child’s dependence on a particular prompt to perform the skill. In other words, the prompt-and-fade approach can help certain behaviors become natural.

For example, a child with autism enjoys the same snack every day. The snack comes in a wrapper, and the goal is for the child to independently throw away the wrapper once they’re finished with the snack. Over time, the prompt-and-fade may look like this:

  • The RBT says, “Let’s throw away the wrapper,” and walks with the child over to the trashcan. They put the wrapper in the trashcan together.

  • The RBT says, “Please throw away the wrapper.” The child walks to the trashcan and puts the wrapper inside it.

  • The RBT points to the trashcan. The child walks to the trashcan and puts the wrapper inside it.

  • Eventually, the child puts the wrapper in the trashcan without needing to be reminded.

The timeline and steps may differ greatly depending on the child and the behavior. But, as with every ABA therapy method, this approach is highly customizable.


In simple terms, modeling is learning by watching. A parent, RBT, or another person may demonstrate a skill or behavior while the child with autism watches. That person would also encourage the child to mimic what they’re doing. This helps your child understand what they’re aiming for.

Modeling is a simple method that works well for many skills. A parent or RBT might model the use of a pencil, a toothbrush, or a pair of scissors. Additionally, modeling can be used to teach more abstract concepts. A video of children playing can help a child with autism understand what appropriate play looks like.

These are just a few specific examples of ABA therapy. An autism treatment plan will include many different therapeutic techniques to teach a rich variety of skills and behaviors.

Other articles

ABA Therapy Basics

How ABA Therapy Works At Applied ABC

How Outcomes Are Measured Using ABA Therapy

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