India Carson - Behavior Technician
March 2023

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) and Natural Environment Teaching (NET) are two common teaching techniques utilized in ABA. NET and DDT are both  used to teach a variety of skills. We use these intervention techniques to teach skills such as: functional communication, adaptive skills, play skills, academics, executive functioning, expressive language, fine motor, gross motor, receptive language, social skills, and visual performance skills.

DTT (Discrete Trial Teaching)

DTT is a structured teaching technique that is structured and involves a therapist working 1-on-1 with the student in a minimally distracted setting. It is a technique that can be applied in any setting for example: at home, school, or the community. It is typically implemented in settings that provide minimal distractions and free access to preferred items and activities are not permitted. The therapist teaches planned skills using repetition and when needed providing prompts while using positive reinforcement.

Natural Environment Teaching (NET)

During NET, the therapist contrives opportunities within the natural environment to teach skills. Just like in DTT, NET can be applied to any setting. It is typically used during play and is used in the setting in which the learner will apply the skills they are learning and assist with generalization across various settings and situations.

Reinforcement during DTT

One of main differences between DTT and NET is the type of reinforcement and how it is provided to the learner. During DTT, the reinforcement is non-specific, which means it can be anything the learner is working for, such as bubbles, tickles, or candy. It does not need to be related to what the student is learning. This is where completing preference assessments( both formal and informal) plays an essential role in implementing DTT procedures.

Reinforcement during NET

During NET, the reinforcement provided to the learner is specific. Which means, the reinforcement is related to what the student is learning. NET is commonly used when the student is first learning how to request for preferred activities or toys.


DTT and NET are established treatments based on the principles of ABA. Therapists decide which approach to implement based upon the motivation of the learner and the skill they are teaching. Both of these treatments, utilized simultaneously, have been proven beneficial when working with children on the spectrum.

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) and Natural Environment Teaching (NET) are two common teaching techniques utilized in ABA.


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