No! Quality ABA service providers ensure that students learn to “apply” the skills they’ve learned in truly functional ways. Discrete trial teaching is often used to introduce and hone skills (e.g., playing with a doll, math facts, putting on socks) in a controlled distraction-free environment (e.g., at a desk). However, once the skill is adequately learned in this environment, it is taught “in context” (e.g., during a play date, while paying for a purchase, when getting dressed), and incorporated into everyday life.
Also, there are many essential skills that do not lend themselves to deskwork. Think of self-help skills (e.g., brushing teeth), leisure skills (e.g., playing catch), social skills (e.g., greeting a friend), community skills (e.g., going shopping), and so on. These skills may be more effectively taught using naturalistic teaching methods.