Baby Skills {Teaching in The Natural Environment}

If you recall, before I decided to stay work from home I was an ABA therapist for kiddos with special needs.

CK logo therapistI LOVED my job and still debate going back to work.  But I can’t.  I’m just not ready yet. I do however, enjoy using some of the techniques I learned at Capable Kids when I am at home with Quinn.

One skill I incorporate daily is the use of NET or Natural Environment Teaching; this just means that you are teaching in a natural setting.

One of the greatest difficulties for a child with Autism or any learning disability is to generalize skills to other settings.  For example, during highly structured or discrete teaching trials, a child may learn the number 1 with a specific flash card, but when asked to identify 1 on a calendar or a mailbox, the child can not carry over the skill in the “natural” environment.

This isn’t something that only children with learning delays need to work on; even typical children can learn new skills in the natural environment.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of pairing, reinforcement, establishing mastery, error correction, etc. This post is just to give you some ideas on how to teach your child in new settings or during times that have less structure.  It’s really fun to do and I promise your child won’t feel like a guinea pig!

Let me first give you an example of skills and a setting.

This video is from Dr. Carbone’s clinic which I highly respect.  The student in this video works on requesting for specific characters and “pull” to get the See N Say to spin.  The therapist targets body parts expressively and receptively (child pointing or touching rather than saying the body part), imitation of actions, and more.

Dr. Vincent Carbone: Natural Environment Teaching (NET) from Aaron on Vimeo.

Here is a video with Quinn while playing in the living room.

On our walk the other day, she was imitating the lawn mower noise, receptively identifying things I said, following directions, tacting (labeling), manding (requesting) and more.  Even though she is 14 months and clearly doesn’t want to participate during videos like she is capable of, you can see how she is learning even on a walk!

If you do nothing else, the MOST CRUCIAL part of teaching is the “mand.”  Allow your child to practice requesting items and actions to really build language skills.  I have a full post on how you can start manding as early as possible HERE.

I want to know if you do this already without even thinking about it.  Most parents do!  I hope this post just gives you more insight to what you are doing and how many more skills you could work on during any part of your child’s day.  It’s not limited to play times; try this while cooking dinner, changing a diaper, giving a bath, feeding breakfast, etc!

What is your favorite way/setting to teach your child in?

Have you ever had an “Aha!” moment while teaching your child?  What did they learn?



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