Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 says that to the maximum extent appropriate, early intervention services must be provided in natural environments, including home and community settings in which children without disabilities participate. Services can only be provided in a setting other than a natural environment when early intervention cannot be achieved satisfactorily in a natural environment. [SEC. 632 (4) (G) and SEC. 635 (a) (16) (B)]
Providing services in natural environments is not just the law. It reflects the core mission of early intervention, which is to provide support to families to help their children develop to their fullest potential, and allows children and families to more fully participate in their communities. We have learned many important things about how infants, toddlers, and families can benefit most from early intervention.
What We've Learned...
Natural Environments are for Everyone...
Natural environments are the day-to-day settings and activities that promote learning for children. Children learn about "water" while playing in the bathtub, washing hands in the sink, getting a drink, splashing in a puddle, or swimming in a pool. In addition to understanding what water is, children are learning self-help skills like drinking from a cup, hand and face washing, or motor skills like walking and jumping. Natural environments are places these everyday activities take place, including the bathroom, kitchen sink, backyard, and community pool. Natural environments are identified by the family as they talk about the activities of their life. They may see grandpa, walk to the store, get the mail, feed the dog, and do the laundry. These are opportunities for teaching and learning.
While the major goals of the TaCTICS project are focused to assist therapists gain skills in working in natural environments, it is also essential that everyone involved understand what natural environment means, why it's important and how it works. The following handouts are included to help you educate others including family members, child care providers, community members, and administrators about the basic concepts involved in natural environments.
These training materials have been provided in PDF (Portable Document Format) and may be downloaded by clicking on the document name. If you would like a copy of the materials e-mailed to you, please contact Katrina Cripe to request a copy.
Note: The materials are being provided in Adobe Acrobat format. If you have not used Acrobat (or PDF, Portable Document Format) files before, you can find detailed information on the format and the free Acrobat Reader software here.
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