While there are many strategies that help children with autism thrive, parents who continue learning with natural environment teaching (NET) at home help ensure successful, long-term outcomes. Implementing ABA strategies into your child’s natural environments is vital, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Using NET strategies to bond, enhance creativity, and strengthen various life skills, while making each moment a learning opportunity, is invaluable. Now that we’re in the midst of the summer months, there is an array of activities you can engage in with your child outdoors while encouraging skills and behaviors through NET.
What is Natural Environment Teaching?
Natural Environment Teaching, or NET, is one method of providing ABA therapy in your child’s natural environment. It allows children with autism to practice and enhance skills, behaviors, and abilities in real-life settings and their clinical settings. The use of NET is beneficial for children on the autism spectrum as a means of helping them enhance generalization skills. Generalization skills help children learn to take the skills they acquire in one setting and apply them to others. This may include taking their clinical ABA sessions to a school or daycare environment, playgroups, or new, unfamiliar environments.
Why is Natural Teaching Essential for Children with Autism?
NET provides children with the tools they need to learn, practice, and incorporate new skills. Skills may include:
- Self-regulating their emotions
- Developing language skills
- Enhancing social skills
- Strengthening bonds with caregivers and peers
- Developing motor skills
Natural Environment Teaching incorporates ABA strategies, including using your child’s interests as motivation. NET encourages the use of less structural play to:
- Build bonds
- Teaching socially acceptable skills
- Introduce new behaviors
- Encouraging expressive language
NET becomes essential in teaching acceptable ways to behave in a variety of settings, from your home to the grocery store. By helping your child learn to generalize these skills successfully, they will also be ready for unfamiliar settings and situations in the future.
Summer Activities for NET
So, how can you incorporate natural environment teaching during the summer months? It’s the perfect time to be outdoors, so utilize what you already have at home and make your own teaching moments. Children love water play, nature walks, and sidewalk chalk drawing. Try incorporating these activities while getting some fresh air and developing new lessons.
- Practice patience while playing a game with the family. Waiting and taking turns is a difficult skill for all children, but a vital one.
- Discuss the world around you as you walk through your neighborhood. Ask open-ended questions. Discuss what you see, hear, and smell. It’s a wonderful time to work on vocabulary and communication.
- Play hide and seek with outdoor toys your child loves. Hide a ball or bottle of bubbles and work on language skills as they try to locate them. Use plenty of adjectives and prepositions while emphasizing areas your child may struggle with.
- Invest in or create a water and sand table. Work on sensory issues, add toy cars, dolls, or shovels to the mixture. Develop their sensory, fine motor, and communication skills while they explore.
- Bubbles or a bubble machine provide hours of fun, from learning to blow and strengthening facial muscles to chasing bubbles and enhancing communication.
There’s a whole world of learning opportunities waiting for you just outside your door. Take advantage of the summer weather and create exciting adventures with an educational twist to continue to strengthen your child’s skills. For more free resources on implementing ABA strategies at home or learn about our all-encompassing services, visit our site today.