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Question 1: My child just received a diagnosis, she doesn’t go to school, and she doesn’t talk. How can I use naturalistic intervention when we’re just home all day? >>
Question 2: How can I target skills across the day if I’m not with the learner all day? >>
Question 3: How can I take data on the intervention, when it happens all day, everywhere? >>
Question 4: I have students who are included in general education classrooms, and I can’t ask the teacher to rearrange her whole room in order to manipulate the environment. Do I have to do this in order to do the intervention? >>
Question 5: How do I know if naturalistic intervention is appropriate for my learner? He does well with table work, but should I be doing more? >>
Naturalistic interventions are perfect for families who are home with their children! Although your child does not yet attend school, you have routines and activities that are part of your child’s world. Think of the different parts of your day – they may include mealtimes, play times, trips to the grocery store, walks around the block, visits to the library, or bath time. Work with your early intervention team to identify a target behavior for your child: what would you like to see her do? It may be finishing a puzzle with you or pointing to pictures of family members in an album. There are lots of things that children can do before they talk, and these skills help them as they work toward more intentional communication. Take advantage of your routines throughout the day and you’ll find out that you are your child’s best teacher!
One important consideration in data collection is finding a system that is manageable for you. This may mean that you have multiple data collection sheets that are easily accessible around the room/school/house. Another idea is to video record some parts of the day and go back to collect the data. Still another option is to have other team members watch the interaction and take data for you. Taking data online by yourself can be challenging, but with proper preparation and materials it can certainly be done!
Another thing to remember is that one does not need to take data all day, every day. Rather, taking data one day per week, or one week per month, is often a very appropriate way to track the progress of an individual learner!
A teacher shouldn’t have to change her whole classroom! However, some minor changes may make it more likely that she can elicit the target behavior. For example, if the target behavior is to increase interactions with peers, she may make a new rule that computer play during free choice is a two-person activity, thus allowing an opportunity for the student with ASD to ask a peer to play on the computer with him. If the target behavior is for the student to use words to request, she may have one person in the person in the group be in charge of the markers, another person in the group in charge of the glue, etc. This way, all students will need to use words to request supplies each time they are needed.
If you are concerned with generalization of skills and have a team that is willing to cooperate with a naturalistic intervention, then naturalistic intervention may be a good choice! Even if parents are able to minimally participate in the intervention, working on target skills throughout the school day and across environments may result in the learner’s ability to use the skills more naturally. In addition, naturalistic intervention does not need to replace traditional one-on-one teaching (discrete trial training, or DTT, for example), but can be used alongside it. For example, a student may work on number concepts through DTT for 30 minutes each morning, and then spend the rest of the day in a naturalistic intervention program focusing on language skills.