There is strong evidence to show that DTT can be a useful procedure – but only as part of a broader programme of intervention. There is insufficient evidence to show that, used as an end in its own right, it will produce lasting benefits.
We have been unable to identify any personal anecdotes which are specifically about the use of DTT for people on the autism spectrum. However we have identified numerous accounts of the use of ABA programmes which incorporate DTT.
Future research should use randomised controlled designs to investigate the effectiveness of DTT against active control groups (for example, by directly comparing DTT with other interventions, relative to a no-treatment control group) using larger sample sizes.
It would also be helpful to identify the effectiveness of DTT, where DTT is a part of a wider programme, investigating whether and how DTT adds value to the programme (for example, are there particular skills that are more receptive to being taught using DTT techniques than others).
It would be helpful to examine the efficacy and any side effects of DTT on the autistic participants, such as stress or self-injurious behaviour, and over a much longer period.
Any future research should also involve people on the autism spectrum to review the efficacy and ethical basis of discrete trial training including individuals who may be non-verbal.