What is Incidental Teaching in ABA?
As important as table work can sometimes be, students need learning opportunities away from the table too! Kids don’t need to be struggling with flashcards to teach concepts in the natural environment. Incidental teaching is a principle of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) that harnesses motivation to provide structured learning opportunities in the real world. Through incidental teaching, you utilize the child’s interests and allow them to initiate while still contriving teaching situations.
There are 4 official steps of incidental teaching in ABA. These include:
- arranging the environment to include items of interest for the child;
- waiting for the child to initiate an interaction about an item of interest;
- asking for more elaborate language or approximations to speech; and
- providing the object for which the child initiated.
Incidental Teaching vs. Natural Environment Teaching
Some of the misconceptions around incidental teaching are that it’s completely child-led and that you don’t get many practice opportunities. We discuss why that’s not true and how to use the concept appropriately. We also discuss the differences between incidental teaching and natural environmental teaching and provide tips on how to contrive learning opportunities.
Need help taking data when doing incidental teaching? Our natural environment data-sheet can be used with incidental teaching as well. Download it below!
- Misconceptions around incidental teaching in ABA.
- The difference between incidental teaching and natural environment teaching.
- Tips for contriving learning opportunities.
- Natural environment data sheet