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Home » Pro » Reflections on Applied Behavior Analysis » Ideas for Skills that Can be Taught in the Natural Environment


with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Ideas for Skills that Can be Taught in the Natural Environment

Using natural environment training to help kids with autism and other learning and behavioral challenges is an excellent mode of teaching to help them develop new skills and improve their behavioral repertoire.

The natural environment refers to the settings which are common to day to day life. This includes the home, the community, a classroom, a store, the backyard, and much more. The natural environment is in contrast to teaching in a contrived, structured environment.

Ten skills that can be taught in the natural environment of a rural backyard of a family home:

  1. How to swim in a pool
  2. Mowing the lawn (for kids that are able to navigate the safety of this skill)
  3. Tacting animals in the yard
  4. Taking a dog for a walk
  5. Interactive play with siblings or peers
  6. Gross motor skills, such as throwing a ball or running
  7. Manding (requesting desired items)
  8. First aid skills (such as when a child gets a scrape)
  9. Gardening
  10. Conversation skills

Ten skills that can be taught in the natural environment of a local park:

  1. Taking turns with peers
  2. Climbing a ladder
  3. Staying in the appropriate area
  4. Health skills, such as staying hydrated
  5. Serving and having a picnic (meal) with family and/or peers
  6. Compliance/Following directions
  7. Pretend play
  8. Following rules
  9. Exercise
  10. Transitions

In applied behavior analysis services, whether in one-on-one direct services or in ABA parent training, a child with autism spectrum disorder can benefit from focusing on skill development in the natural environment. Use the ideas above to help you in developing ABA treatment goals for the natural environment.

Ideas for Skills that Can be Taught in the Natural Environment


APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Ideas for Skills that Can be Taught in the Natural Environment. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 27, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2019/06/ideas-for-skills-that-can-be-taught-in-the-natural-environment/