Why is Discrimination Training important in ABA?

ABA is a lot of fun! One of the things we do is to use different kinds of language in our sessions. Language such as requests, comments and spoken words help us communicate with each other. The more we communicate with each other, the better we get at it. Discrimination training is a way for us to make sure that you understand what we want you to do.

For example, let’s say you point to an object on your client’s desk and ask you for it by saying “Give me…”. If your client can give you that object, then you’ll know your client understands what you’re asking them to do. Using discrimination training you can use specific stimuli to teach your client how to identify and label items in the environment.

Breaking down Discriminative Stimulus

You engage with stimuli and responses every day. From very basic tasks such as passing the salt during dinner all the way to driving a full-sized vehicle and following traffic rules, these are all examples of discriminative stimulus. For example, imagine you’re stopped at a light. The red light is the discriminative stimulus, a cue which tells you to stop. When the light turns green the discriminative stimulus then becomes a cue to tell you to drive or keep driving. So how do we discriminate between a red light and a green light? We do so by understanding the consequences of not performing the correct response given the specific cue stimuli. When you stop at a red light, you prevent accidents and tickets. When you drive past a green light you keep traffic flowing and get to your destination on time. These consequences reinforce the proper response. However, what happens when you drive past a red light? Then the response is not reinforced, and it is instead punished by the consequences (accident, traffic
ticket, etc.). If you want to know more about discrimination training, don’t forget to watch our RBT study guide series on YouTube.

Discriminative stimulus is an important educational tool for children’s development. It has shown great success in teaching autistic children specific behaviors for different situations. It relies on positive reinforcement to encourage children to display good behavior more often, making it a wonderful tool for their learning. Download our infographic to help you understand the best way of performing discrimination training with your patients.

Discrimination Training Infographic


Send download link to (by downloading files you agree to receive promotional emails):