Client Information

Natural Environment Therapy Works:
Here’s Why

The early stages of a child's development are critical, as this is the period of time when cognitive, social, and physical growth occurs. Sometimes challenges occur when a child fails to meet certain developmental milestones. In times like this early intervention is essential to ensure the child has the support they need to succeed. Often, these services take place at school or a therapy clinic but ignore other environments in the child’s daily life.

Natural environment therapy (NET) takes account of the impact an environment can have on a child's behavior and development and makes adjustments accordingly - whether to the child’s therapy regimen or the environment itself. A therapy regimen performed in a natural environment can provide benefits that traditional school and clinic therapy environments simply cannot. With more therapy options available than ever - families should remember to consider all available options, for both quality and flexibility sakes!

A natural environment can be at home, the barbershop or even a theme park with the goal of developing new skills in a location where sensory inputs are similar to the place where the skills will ultimately be needed. This includes light, sound, tactical sensations and of course - people. NET plays an important role in helping children with developmental challenges lead a normal life. In this article, we'll introduce NET and the benefits it can have on a child's development. This includes better social interaction, improved participation in school, and a greater ability to engage in daily routine tasks.

Why Natural Environments?

Natural environments are powerful because they prevent the child's need to abstract the skills they are learning. Children learn the skills they require in the space that they need them.This includes activities that are a part of the family's normal lifestyle in the areas of work and play, education, sleep, and social interests. The practitioner focuses on helping the family increase their capacity to care for their child to both minimize disruption to their daily routines and enhance the child's development. Of course, this also means no stressful commute or rush hour traffic trying to get to the therapy clinic or gym… and we know how important that is! Families with children needing speech, occupational or physical therapy can all benefit from replacing or even supplementing existing regimens with therapy outside the traditional clinic setting. Yes, therapy can even be productive at grandma and grandpa's house! Truly anywhere…

What are the Benefits of Performing Therapy in a Natural Environment?

There are countless benefits to children and families who take advantage of therapy options. The therapy can be used to treat many kinds of issues to help kids on their journey to creating healthier, more stable and productive lives, maximizing their potential. Occupational, speech and physical therapy are all areas where therapy outside of a clinical environment can and should be considered. These disciplines of therapy touch on many areas of daily life.

Communication

Difficulties with communication can be distressing to children, so they may simply withdraw from situations that require advanced communication skills. In a natural, realistic environment - it can be easier to encourage the child to exert themselves and isolate any potential distractions from treatment. This could include work that encourages the child to express themselves verbally that would otherwise prompt aggression or practicing socialization skills in an environment that brings about less anxiety.

Social Participation

Social engagement is a required part of life that can be limited by any number of diagnoses. One benefit of natural environment is by making use of siblings. If the child has siblings with whom they regularly interact, those siblings may have made social adjustments to accommodate their sibling's deficiencies. Instead, they can be instructed to provide graded, therapeutic social interaction to help the child progress. Socialization can also be practiced with a friend providing a less stressful environment for skills to be developed.

Routine Tasks

Sometimes, in a clinical setting, routine tasks are simulated and the child may find himself taking on a role that is very different from the one they assume at home. The child is then placed in a a new environment and expected to repeat these tasks sometimes with great difficulty. Instead, these daily routine tasks can be completed naturally and the way they will always be done and issues blocking the child’s development can be identified more readily.Therapists will work hand-in-hand with family members to design exercises that account for the unique behavior of the child in that environment. The child’s strengths and weaknesses can be assessed adjusting the child's therapy regimen or environment accordingly.

Focus

Therapy gyms, classrooms, and other therapeutic environments can be very distracting and can be difficult to deal with for children with attention deficits. When treated in a natural environment, it can be easier for a child to pay attention and not be distracted by simple things. This can promote better focus and attention in the child that will be used in many functional settings.


When children experience developmental delays early identification and sub-sequential support are absolutely crucial for the child’s continued development. Of the many factors that can contribute to a successful therapy regimen, the environment is one of the most important - despite the fact that it is often overlooked. Providing therapy in a natural environment promotes greater carryover, improved parental understanding, and more rapid progress through the therapeutic process. There are a number of activities and skills that can be improved through therapy provided in a natural environment, and this will vary from child to child. It is essential for parents to find a therapy provider that is a good match for their families specific needs to experience the full benefits of therapy in a natural environment.


Enablr Therapy is an online marketplace providing high-quality and convenient therapy related services to families in need of flexibility in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Our talented network of therapists is committed to delivering mobile therapy whenever, and wherever you need it most.