What Is Discrete-Trial ABA, And What Is Different About Newer ABA Procedures Such As Incidental Teaching?

Question: What is discrete-trial ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), and what is different about newer ABA procedures such as incidental teaching and pivotal response training and peer-mediated interventions?

Answer: Discrete-trial training is a term used to describe the traditional ABA procedures that were developed really in the late 1960s. They generally involve a one-on-one pairing of a teacher and a child and they're administered in a distraction-free environment where the child is given discrete opportunities to respond to an instruction. With the newer ABA interventions, they are much more likely to be provided in the context of more normal environments. So, in environments in which typically peers are present or in which they're in regular preschool environments and yet the systematic ABA is provided while they also enjoy the advantages of a normal early childhood.

This is important because the problem with the initial traditional discrete-trial interventions is that children often didn't learn to transfer what they learned from the distraction-free environment to the real world. And this problem is overcome with the newer intervention approaches.