Discrimination Trials: Extremely Important in Special Education Instruction

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Discrimination training is concerned with the way training stimuli and prompts are presented, as well as the manner in which prompts are faded and removed. For example, if the child has learned to match, select, name a red block “Red,” and a blue block “Blue,” the child has learned to discriminate the colors red and blue.

Some skills are complex and may require an elaborate discrimination training procedure involving many steps and a high number of training trials, whereas other skills are easier for the child to learn and might be effectively taught in considerably fewer trials. The teacher or therapist must always seek to use the discrimination training procedure that leads to mastery most quickly.

Discrimination Trials are very important when teaching new skills. This week I found myself communicating with a team of educators/therapists and independent service providers regarding this subject.

My communication with a student’s assistant: Caleb and I worked on the typing issues. He is not discriminating between, “type”, “spell”, and “read”. He is unsure of his role when asked to do one of these with the laptop in front of him. Think about it this way, the laptop is a signal that he is going to be typing something; however, if the laptop is in front of him and you simply ask him to “read” or “spell” a word he is lost. Make sure you are using the terms in the correct manner. When you want him to type something on the laptop say, “type” (to communicate he is actually going to be typing), if you want him to spell something (this means he verbally spells it) use “spell”, if you want him to read a word (verbally say it) use “read”. Do not use “spell” for typing something on the laptop. We will introduce this later. First, we need to get him discriminating between the three terms. I want you to take data on using this discrimination trial using his weekly spelling words. Remember, you are not collecting data on spelling the word correctly. You are taking data on his ability to execute the task you have cued. If you say “type zip” and he types it on the keyboard, score with a (+). If you say “type zip” and he says, “z…i…p…”, you will score with a (-).

Another example of a discrimination trial that is extremely helpful for students with complex communication needs is Ask vs Tell.

Ask vs. Tell

SD:       “Ask …..”

            “Tell me …”

SR: The student responds by asking or telling you information about a specified subject.

Example:

Teacher/Therapist: “Ask my name.”

Student: “What is your name?”

Teacher/Therapist: Answer the question and reinforce by reinterating and identifying what the student did correctly.

Example: “My name is Jenn. Great job asking my name!”

Teacher/Therapist: “Tell me your name.”

Student: “My name is Fred.”

Teacher/Therapist: Reinforce the correct response.

Example: “Awesome! Thanks for telling me your name!”

Prompting: Verbal, Visual

Note: Make sure that you are interchanging “Ask” and “Tell”!  You do not want to establish a pattern.  For example, do not simply require “Ask”, “Tell”, “Ask”, “Tell”…

Check out the following Boom Card digital task card decks with discrimination drills built in.

Resources

Lovaas, O. I. (1977). The autistic child: Language development through behavior modification. New York: Irvington.Lovaas, O. I. (1987).

Behavioral treatment and normal intellectual and educational functioning in autistic chil-dren. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 3–9.

Lovaas, O. I. (2003). Teaching individuals with develop-mental delays: Basic intervention techniques. Austin: Pro-Ed

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About Post Author

The Speech Banana

My unique level of skill sets and eighteen years of working across the lifespan include working as an in-home ABA therapist (under the direction of elite Behavior Analysts), later as a Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst  (known as Assistant Behavior Analyst, today) and ASHA licensed Speech-Language Pathologist.  I possess an extensive level of post-graduate training and enjoy research collaboration.  Over my professional career, I have had the opportunity to provide professional therapy services in hospitals, in-patient/out-patient rehabilitation centers, schools, skilled nursing facilities, academic learning centers and private practice. I have successfully coordinated and organized interventions for the most difficult caseloads and executed professional training programs for many educational and health-related institutions. An accomplished clinician, I possess knowledge and skills in all aspects of managing screenings, evaluation and treatment design. I have extensive knowledge and experience with individuals who exhibit complex communication profiles and problematic behavioral characteristics requiring alternative means of communication, feeding/swallowing interventions, specific behavioral intervention plans, and specialized executive function interventions.  My clinical competencies include knowledge and skills in the specialty interventions including:  The Lovaas Model of Applied Behavior Analysis, Errorless Learning, Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT),  Natural Environment Teaching (NET), Verbal Behavior Analysis/Mand Training, Family-Guided Routines-Based Intervention Floortime/DIR, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Integrated Play Groups Model, Wilson Reading System, Orton-Gillingham, Language!, Lindamood-Bell, Auditory Integration Therapy, Earobics,  Integrated Play Therapy,  PROMPT, Tomatis Method, Neurofeedback and Biofeedback Interventions, TEACCH,  Assistive Technology, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), SuperFlex Social Skills Instruction, Beckman Oral Motor, Sensory Integration Techniques, and many more.
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