Conventional teaching environments involve controlled areas that are specifically for instruction. The teacher stands at the front of the room and the students sit at desks while they receive instruction. Structured teaching environments often require significant stimulus control and can be difficult for some kids to adjust to. Natural environment teaching is an alternative that can help children with autism adjust to day-to-day situations.
Sitting in a structured teaching environment for hours can be difficult for children with autism. Often, the teacher has to spend a significant amount of time on stimulus control, allowing only a little time for instruction. Portability provides more creative freedom and fundamentally changes the dynamic between the student and the teacher. Instead of the teacher dictating to the student sitting in his or her desk, natural environment teaching creates an environment in which the teacher is approaching the student as a guide or instructor.
- Positive Reinforcement
Unfortunately, running a structured teaching environment often involves negative reinforcement. When a student misbehaves, the teacher has to respond negatively in order to maintain the teaching environment. This can often leave students discouraged and unable to pay attention. Natural environment teaching changes the dynamic between the teacher and student. Instead of employing negative reinforcement to encourage good behavior, instructors in natural environment teaching only employ positive reinforcement. This conditions the instructor as reinforcer. Instead of punishing bad behavior, a reinforcer encourages habits of good behavior.
To learn more about how natural environment teaching can help your child with autism, call STAR California at (805) 624-6982. STAR California is a division of Support and Treatment for Autism and Related Disorders. We pride ourselves on providing quality psychological and ABA services to families in the community.