Teaching techniques can be a struggle to choose between, especially if there are additional hurdles to climb on your child’s road to learning, language and growth. However, this doesn’t mean that naturalistic approaches cannot work, or that an ASD teaching technique needs to be complex to be advanced.
Incidental Teaching and Natural Environment Teaching operate on the belief that natural scenarios should be used to assist your child in learning, speaking and better understanding the world around them. This is backed by the research that shows if a child is taught in a natural environment, like during play or meal time, instead of a structured classroom atmosphere, they are able to move those skills more easily into real-world situations.
Incidental Teaching is able to naturally use positive reinforcement and rewards to help your child engage and retain language and other skills that can be applied in a wide range of normal life settings.
Here are some of the top advantages of Incidental Teaching and Natural Environment Teaching.
It Goes Hand-in-Hand with ABA Therapy
Because ABA Therapy is designed to reward good behavior, Incidental Teaching or Natural Environment Teaching are great means to ABA! Both share a core of positive reinforcement, and both share a view that rewarding desirable behaviors will increase their future likelihood.
By putting these two compatible visions together, you are able to gain more from each scenario and help your child to gain the very most out of every minute, while still enjoying themselves and having a positive experience.
Positive Reinforcement and Rewards
ABA Therapy and Incidental Teaching both share views on how to best increase positive or desired behavior, but even more so than their emphasis on positive reinforcement, is their idea that rewarding behavior not only strengthens it but also increases the enjoyment of the student.
If the learning environment is more fun, rewarding and natural, then there is a better chance that it will not be viewed negatively by your child!
More Easily Converted into Daily Life
Incidental Teaching can be something as simple as gaining vocabulary by wanting to play with a toy, reaching for it, and being told its name, and then using the gained language the next time they want such a toy, or even having a scene set up so a child’s curiosity aids in their learning.
Regardless of the route used, or even the scene, because it is in a natural environment, it can be more easily realized into adjacent situations, which means a wider spread of learning and encouraged behaviors!
Any Time Can Be Class Time
A huge advantage of Incidental Teaching and Natural Environment Teaching is the fact that it can be done both professionally and at home! You are able to assist your child’s learning on your way to school, the park, or the supermarket.
By viewing every scenario as a potential lesson, you are able to help your child in a less pressured way, giving positive feedback and reinforcement as you both go about your daily life.
No Additional Materials Required
As said above, when Incidental Learning is used in daily life, no additional materials are needed! When Natural Environment Teaching is used in therapy, items are places to pique the interest of your child, however, this isn’t needed for daily teachings, as whatever is near or interesting to your child can be your next lesson!
With a mix of in-clinic therapy, and at-home lessons, Incidental Learning can be a full-scale teaching program!
Because Incidental Learning is first initiated by your child (asking or reaching for a toy, etc.) they are able to set the pace based on their mood, desires and level. There is little pushing or prompting which allows the child to determine what they are most interested in and what they are therefore most likely to retain in their learning and language.