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Naturalistic Teaching Strategies In ABA Therapy

Naturalistic teaching is a style of teaching that can be applied to different environments, not only one that's built around a therapy session at a therapy center.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
September 15, 2023
min read

What is Naturalistic Teaching?

Naturalistic teaching is a style of teaching that can be applied to different environments, not only one that's built around a therapy session at a therapy center.

One primary characteristic of naturalistic teaching is where it can take place, which can be at the client's home, at a school, or inside of any building where a child would be, such as a grocery store.

The goal of naturalistic teaching is to utilize the child's natural environment to help promote generalization.

This can help encourage kids with autism to take part in the conversation and become thrilled over the subject. Naturalistic teaching can boost social skills in ways where other teaching methods may fail.

Although naturalistic teaching is founded in much of the teachings of Applied Behavior Analysis, It hones in more on specific experiences of the children that take part in it.

It's highly personalized, where one child's real activities and schedules determine how a therapist will work with a child, and in what setting it'll take place. 

This can help therapists better focus themselves on target behaviors that are associated with contributions to such behaviors springing forth.

Types of Naturalistic Teaching Methods

Here are the different types of naturalistic teaching Methods:

Incidental Teaching

This is where the objective of the raise the motivation in a child to learn new things in new, exciting ways.

Using incidental teaching, the therapist may cue a child to say a phrase or demand a toy to be given to them. In most cases like this, the child will show interest in the toy on their own accord. 

The therapist is interested in boosting the child's ability to conversate, however. Communication doesn't have to be verbal and can be done with sign language, hand gestures, or with photos.

Read More: What Is Incidental Teaching?

Pivotal Response Training

Pivotal response training/treatment doesn't pay much attention to specific behaviors, such as getting a kid to talk. Instead, a broader approach is taken by viewing things that are important to their behavioral development.

Whatever motivates unwanted behavior or how they react to different social interactions. The objective is to find the because of behaviors instead of just single behaviors individually.

Read More: What Is Pivotal Response Treatment?

Natural Language Paradigm

This is useful for kids that are semi or completely unable to talk. With Natural Language Paradigm, the therapist sits with the child close together and offers different toys to them, letting the child pick the one that they want.

After it's chosen the therapist can give an example of how to say the name of the toy, or other words that identify it. The child is then offered a chance to play with it right before it's removed. The therapist then uses prompts to say the word over and over before the item is given back again.

Benefits of Naturalistic Teaching Strategies

The key benefits of naturalistic teaching strategies are that the trials are started by the child, not the therapist. Another is that it may prompt natural language learning. 

It targets pivotal behavior, as its name implies. From there, a child can quickly take on more knowledge at a faster pace than was shown before the therapy.

With the natural linguistic paradigm, NTS shows emphasis on motivating children through the incorporation of taking different turns. 

Things that they've become good at are mixed in with new trials which they've yet to grasp, boosting cognitive levels and the desire for them to learn new ways of talking.

All of the different approaches shown about naturalistic teaching strategies are proven beneficial. They target communication and language skills, as well as social behaviors and growth in this area.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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