Natural Environment Training uses the child’s natural environment to facilitate social skill and language learning opportunities by using the child’s preferences to guide the direct intervention.  The child’s normal daily items and activities are used in the teaching interaction. These items are presented as stimuli, upon which the child will respond. The child’s incorrect responses are corrected with varying levels of prompts and correct responses are reinforced. Simple responses are shaped into more complicated responses over time. Goals are specific, but they are worked on as they occur naturally, or as the trainer contrives the opportunity for increased number of trials. Since the session is conducted naturally, opportunities for child responding (and therefore learning) are virtually unlimited.

NET is not confined to specific rote programs sitting at a table; the entire session becomes an opportunity to learn.  Children are more likely to remain engaged because the session is based on preferred play activities.  The more engaged, the more likelihood that positive interaction between the trainer and child will occur. The session may look like play, but many trials occur and are recorded for analysis. Further, because teaching starts off in the natural environment, those skills are already generalized.  The child will not need to first learn the skill in a structured environment, only to have to learn it again in the natural environment.

Goals for NET are based results of standardized assessment deficits, our curriculum, clinical input as well as parent request. We prefer to use NET when a child has already acquired basic learning skills such as sitting and attending and basic compliance.  When basic learning skills haven’t been acquired or the child has difficulties learning in a natural environment due to distractions, we may use a more structured approach, such as Discrete Trial Training (DTT).