Natural Environment Teaching (NET) for Advanced Learners

This blog is about capturing naturally occurring ABA teaching moments using Natural Environment Teaching (Incidental Teaching and Time Delay Technique).

Most people think ofAchievement-Behavior-Care-Natural-Environment-Teaching ABA teaching as having a child sit by the table one on one with an instructor, and reinforcers spread out in front of them. This is only one method of teaching in ABA. NET teaching is another method of teaching for more advanced learners through “play and naturally occurring activities” found in the environment. It is not contrived by the teacher; rather the learner brings the stimuli to the session. The learning is not occurring at the table in a therapy room, but in a variety of everyday settings such as the library, supermarket, playground, mall, or zoo, etc.

Unlike Discrete Trial Training (DTT), a more structured and controlled setting where skills are broken down one-by-one into teachable steps and the ABA teacher provides the “stimuli” and the “reinforcement,” NET relies on the following:

naturally occurring reinforcements, such as social praises, high fives, tickles
teachable moments, such as if the child is looking outside the window, the teacher may teach about the birds, trees, and planes
choices, the child is asked what they want to do next and they are given the choice to decide

Incidental Teaching

The method of NET allows the teaching to occur directly in generalized settings. It is “incidental teaching” at the movement and not planned ahead of time. There is no need to reteach in various settings. Motivation needs to be captured at the moment it is occurring. If the child is thirsty and wants juice, he will need to ask for juice to get it. Using the word “juice” is teaching the child to make a request at the moment he is most motivated to do so.

Time Delay Technique

Time Delay Technique is when the teacher notices that a child wants something, and rather than prompting right away, the teacher waits to see if the child is going to attempt a request. If the child does request but not “correctly”, another delay occurs, where the teacher waits to see if the child will offer another request. If he doesn’t or is not successful, the teacher will prompt him to do so by asking “What do you want?” and modeling the correct response.

 

It is important to keep in mind what you want to teach during NET. Have a set of measurable goals and objectives ready to collect data. It is teaching through motivation, capturing moments, and most of all having fun with the learner. In order to be successful you must establish instructional control in the natural environment. Click here for more on the relationship between child and therapist helps establish instructional control.

If you have any questions about how you can be prepared for NET moments, call or shoot us an email at ABC and we’ll be happy to answer.

 

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