What’s the first thing you think about when you hear this name; Natural Environment Teaching?? Teaching kids out in the garden about all things nature?? Sounds about right doesn’t it?

NET actually means teaching and learning that is focused around your child’s motivation. It can be done anywhere and is entirely child led as the teacher follows the child’s motivation.

Many parents will be doing this without even thinking about it, for example, talking about body parts in the bath, or pointing out flowers whilst on a walk but for children with autism who often don’t have a variety of interests NET can be tricky and needs to be carefully and intentionally planned.

The activity (e.g jumping on the trampoline, baking, playing with trains etc) itself IS the reinforcer, there is no additional reinforcement needed, if it is, then it is not a NET situation.

The goal of NET is to make learning fun, through play, so the child doesn’t really know that they are learning.

NET sessions are an opportunity to improve a child’s fluency in terms of responding, as you alternate by issuing instructions from various Verbal Operants (see last week’s blog on verbal behaviour for more info).

You must be fully aware of your child’s current capabilities to do this.

NET is also an opportunity to expose the child to new experiences that you can prompt them through, e.g. to follow a motor imitation instruction that they may never have done before such as making sausages out of playdoh.

How to implement NET

Make a list of highly preferred activities that your child enjoys. Be aware of various targets both current and mastered, which relate to this activity. Once you’ve started the activity and there is plenty of ‘steam’ then begin to issue various instructions whilst participating in the activity.

Golden rule = ensure that you do not decrease the value of the reinforcing activity by placing too many demands on your child!

Here’s an example of a NET lesson plan for painting:

Activity            What the child will talk about

Painting

Mands (requests)

·          Have the child mand for the paintbrush (“Paintbrush”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for the paint (Paint”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for the various colours of paint (“Red”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for the paper (“Paper”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for a tissue or wipe to clean up (“Wipe”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for the water if using water colours (“Water”)  Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for the cup if using water colours (“Cup”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for you to pour the water if using water colours (“pour”) Early Learner

·          Have the child mand for the paintbrush using different carrier phrases (“I want the paintbrush,” “Give me a paint brush.”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for the paint using different carrier phrases (I need the paint,” “Give me the paint.”)  Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for the various colours of paint using different carrier phrases (“I want the green paint,” “Give me the yellow paint.”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for the paper using different carrier phrases (“I need paper,” “I want paper.”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for the tissue or wipe to clean up using different carrier phrases (“Give me a wipe,” “I need a wipe.”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for the water using different carrier phrases, if using water colours (“I want water,” “Give me water.”)  Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for the cup using f=different carrier phrases if using water colours (“I need a cup,” “ Give me a cup”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child mand for you to pour the water suing different carrier phrases if using water colours (“Pour the water”) Intermediate Learner

Tacts (labels)

·          Have the child tact the paint (What is this?”) Early Learner

·          Have the child tact the paint brush (What is this?”) Early Learner

·          Have the child tact the paper (What is this?”) Early Learner

·          Have the child tact the various colours (“What colour are you painting with?”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child tact the objects by their function, feature and class – TFFC (“Tell me something that you put paint on,” “What is something that you use to paint with?”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child tact the parts of an object (“What part of the paintbrush is this? –handle, bristles)  Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child tact the action (“What are you doing?”) Intermediate Learner

Receptive (listener responding)

·          Have the child point to or touch the objects (“Touch the paintbrush,” “Point to the paper.”) Early Learner

·          Have the child point to or touch the various colours (“Show me where the colour red is on you paper.”) Intermediate Learner

·          Have the child touch, point to or give you objects based on their function, feature or class – RFFC (“Give me the one that you paint pictures on,” “Touch the one that you paint with.”)  Intermediate Learner

Intraverbal (answering questions)

·          Transfer any of the above TFFCs to Intraverbals