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The Discrete Trial (DT) Trainer

Accelerations Educational Software
1334 Sumter Street
Columbia, SC 29201

This program was created by a father who wanted to use computer technology to help educate his autistic child. This fast-paced program is a relatively inexpensive "virtual teaching assistant." It has 126 content programs to provide tireless student drills and reinforcement of basic concepts.

The program is completely customizable for your student. Once your student is registered in the program, you choose the content you want to drill and the reinforcers you want to provide. You can set the number of questions to be displayed and determine how much time your student has to supply an answer. Reinforcers range from a cheery verbal "nice job" to an assortment of colorful games and puzzles.

Here is the concept: a child with autism or learning disability is given a short, measurable task that involves a command like "click on the next number in the sequence." Other stimuli, or distracters, appear on the screen along with the task. The student responds and is given a reinforcer for the response. The method employed in this program is based on research in Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA. ABA has been proven to be effective when used with children with learning disabilities and autism. The US Surgeon General recommends ABA for children with autism. There has been a great deal of research to show that computer-aided teaching of children with learning disabilities is effective. The DT Trainer website states that research demonstrates that computer and other technology "can be more effective than regular group instruction for educationally handicapped students."

The program is designed to be used independently by students between the developmental ages of 2 and 9. Younger children benefit from activities like matching a spoken word to a picture. The skill areas covered include matching, identification, counting, phonics, classification, sequencing, spatial relations, math, time, money, word analysis, word recognition, and more. The program teaches receptive language, academics, and life skills.

Once you own the program, you may sign up to receive updated and expanded content. So the program can grow as your student masters the material.

The user's guide is pretty detailed and, frankly, a bit confusing for the average mom, like myself. Fortunately, though, we had also been provided with a sheet of quick start instructions. If you order this program, you'll want to get that sheet.

Lastly, the program has a feature for you to print progress reports, so you can track your student's progress throughout the program.

As the parent of a child with a learning disability, I really appreciate having something like this to drill concepts and math facts with my student. My child does eventually get it, but it takes a tremendous amount of repetition. This program is invaluable in providing that targeted drill, and my daughter seemed to like working with it.

Product review by Christine Field, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, June 2006

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