Service Settings in Early Intervention
The goal of early intervention is to provide services to support your child's development in a family focused manner. Ideally, services and supports will be embedded in your child's daily routine. As such, services can take place in your home, in a child care setting, at a neighborhood park, or at any other location that your child frequents. This is what professionals mean when they talk about "natural environment."
A natural environment is one in which your child interacts with children who are typically developing while receiving their supports and therapies within that setting. For example, a speech therapist might come to a child's daycare in order to teach the caregivers how best to encourage speech development; or a physical therapist might meet a parent at a local park to work on gross motor skills using the playground equipment.
Children with developmental delays or who are at risk for delays learn best when exposed to peers who serve as typically developing role models. Research in the field of early intervention also shows that it is best to educate the child's caregivers so that they are empowered to better support the child in his/her natural environment. Since parents are a child's first teacher, successful early intervention teaches parents how to encourage their child's full development within the context of daily life.
Additional information about natural environments is available through: