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The Autism Intervention Training Video Series

Reviewed by: Sarah R. Jenkins, MA, University of Kansas 

As stated eloquently by Queen Elizabeth II, “It’s all to do with the training; you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.” The Autism Intervention Services Program at the University of New Brunswick, who developed training videos as a way to teach their staff-in-training (and the public) how to implement common behavioral techniques, may also share this sentiment. The video series is intended for individuals who are unfamiliar with, or just starting to learn the principles and empirically-based procedures that are commonly used within Applied Behavior Analysis (commonly known as ABA). The videos are freely available for anyone to access and include short (less than 15 min each) training videos comprised of narration, on-screen text, and video clips depicting each component skill, and is intended to be paired with lecture-based materials. Although lecture content is not provided on the website, the videos can be incorporated into presentations or courses designed to teach learners these specific skills. Topics covered by the videos include discrete-trial training, reinforcement, prompting, incidental teaching, and generalization. Below is a review of the discrete-trial training, reinforcement and prompting videos.

Discrete-trial training is a highly structured teaching procedure that is made up of individual units or trials. Each trial consists of an instruction, the learner’s response, and a consequence (Green, 1996). Discrete-trial training is often implemented in a one-on-one setting and is individualized (e.g., use of stimuli, pace, prompting strategies) for each learner (Green, 1996). This teaching technique can be a successful method for teaching various skills such as language development (e.g., receptive, tacting, intraverbals), imitation, and conversational skills, among others (Smith, 2001). Depending on the setting, the person delivering the discrete-trial training may vary (e.g., teacher, paraprofessional, parent); however, it is important for teachers working with individuals with autism to be trained in how to implement empirically-supported techniques, such as those described within the video series. When paired with other training approaches, such as didactic instruction, practice, and performance feedback from a trained supervisor, these videos may be helpful tools to teach professionals-in-training how to implement behavior analytic techniques.

Component skills (i.e., implementing the discrete trials, providing reinforcement, using prompting) necessary to teach using discrete-trial training are taught in three video segments available in English on the Autism Intervention Training Video website: Each segment defines the target skill using technical language and also provides laymen’s terms with on-screen text, which make it easy to follow along. The videos also consist of numerous models for how to implement the skill.

Chapter 1: The Discrete Trial:

• Introduces discrete-trial training and its component skills

• A graphical display depicts the component skills (i.e., discriminative stimulus, prompting/waiting for a response, reinforcement/correction) and each is briefly defined

• Provides guidelines for implementing each skill

• Individual video clips highlight teachers using the skill with a learner with autism

Chapter 2: Using Reinforcers:

• The topic of reinforcement is reviewed from the previous chapter and additional information is provided:

• Why reinforcers are used

• Types of reinforcers

• General guidelines for providing reinforcement

• The importance of and how to establish new reinforcers

• Includes numerous and varied exemplars of providing reinforcement within a one-on-one setting

• Reviews token systems and briefly mentions the use of informal preference assessments

Chapter 3: Prompts:

• Discusses the use of prompts during instructional time

• Describes the six most common types of prompts (i.e., physical, modeling, gestural, visual, positional, verbal)

• Step-by-step narration for implementing each prompt

• Video clips depict the use of each prompt with a learner with autism

• Introduces and models the concepts of prompt hierarchies and prompt fading

Overall, the format of the videos makes the topic easy to understand and accessible, even for those not yet familiar with behavior analytic procedures. If paired with other training approaches, such as practice and feedback, the instructions and models provided for how to implement the target skill may be an effective and efficient way to train individuals who are working with learners with autism.

We applaud The Autism Intervention Services Program at the University of New Brunswick for their efforts in helping to disseminate information about behavior analytic techniques to the public and Ronald McDonald’s House Charities for funding the development of the video series.


Green, G. (1996). Early behavioral intervention for autism: What does the research tell us? In C.Maurice (Ed.), Behavioral intervention for young children with autism (pp. 29–44). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Smith, T. (2001). Discrete-trial training in the treatment of autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16 (2), 86-92.