In our home when Cody makes a request with contingency for assistance or for something, YOU ACT regardless what it is! So this morning, Brad and I had a make-out session right in front of CR! Brad kissed me good bye on his way out the door and Cody said, “Ah-ga” (again) so we kissed again! This happened about 10 times in a row and each time CR would smile bigger and say,” Ah-ga!”
From the day Cody was born, Brad has been trying to get that kiss goodbye from him every morning. He tries with consistency and Cody just leans his head in for him to kiss him on fore head only. But, apparently he loves to watch his Mom and Dad lock lips and who knows one day he might lean in to dad with puckered lips too versa his fore head!
We have tried different methods of ABA and have learned over the last 18 months that Cody thrives and progresses with more of a Discrete Trial Training of ABA.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a method of teaching in simplified and structured steps. Instead of teaching an entire skill in one go, the skill is broken down and “built-up” using discrete trials that teach each step one at a time (Smith, 2001).
We have tried other early intervention approaches based on ABA principles, including the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). This method is a more natural and less structured way than DDT. ESDM similarly uses a natural environment but teaches multiple skills at once. So while teaching red, you may also be teaching turn-taking and other social skills.
DTT is a structured ABA technique that breaks down skills into small, “discrete” components. Systematically, the therapist teaches these skills one by one. Along the way, therapists use tangible reinforcements for desired behavior. For a child, this might include a candy or small toy. For Cody, the trampoline, iPad, tickle/rough house time and Cheerios seem to be his high rein-forcers (rewards) right now.
Here is what DTT can look like: If CR’s therapist is teaching colors to him, she might begin by teaching red. She would ask him to point to red and then reward the behavior with a cheerio. She would then move on to teaching yellow by itself, reinforce that skill, and then ask about both colors. After he learns all his colors, the therapist might teach him to say each color’s name but we are nowhere near this yet.
DTT to be particularly effective for teaching skills to children with autism. DTT was one of the very first interventions developed for autism and has extensive research supporting it.
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach,” counseled Ignacio Estrada, director for grants administration at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, “maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
Such truth to this quote regardless if you have Autism or not. Our children have been placed in this mold, “cookie cutter kids” and it’s not how we all learn. I have been very blessed over the years for Cameron, my older neurotypical son who had teachers that have really allowed him to learn in fun and effective ways. They did not push him to read what he did not want to read, they allowed him to make choices and most importantly they did not place any type of fear over the standardized testing required from the state which in return he does very well with. They have also empowered him and gave him the tools to speak and present in front of others with confidence. This was not always the case with all his teachers but I can name off a handful that have influenced and have set him up for success if he chooses to run with it. So THANK YOU to the Educators that might be reading this.
So see, my message here is we have learned that Cody learns in a different way too. And through trying different methods, we have found a way that works right now. It may not be anything like we learn but the end result ends up being the same and we all know the difference between up and down or nose and eyes.