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Milieu Teaching Procedures

Autistic children, usually, have difficulties in language development and may require effective language interventions. It is, however, highly recommended that the intervention be introduced early enough in the child’s life. Additionally, the intervention should not mainly concentrate on the content of the language; rather, it should aim at enabling the child to use the language. The duration of the intervention should be enough in order to achieve its intended objectives.Milieu teaching is an intervention that utilizes the environment and highly relies on the interest and the student’s natural motivation towards a particular activity.  In milieu teaching, three procedures are used: Model, Mand and Time delay.

Before using the milieu procedures, the student must show interest, verbal or non-verbal, in an activity whose access can be controlled by the teacher. On showing the interest, the teacher raises the attention of the student.  The Model procedure is used when the student is learning a new verbal skill. The teacher demonstrates (models) a language response which he/she expects the student to imitate. When the student responds correctly by imitating the teacher, a verbal praise is given followed by a verbal expansion. The teacher, thereafter, allows access to what the student wanted. If the response is incorrect, the teacher may give a corrective feedback and still allow access to what the student wanted in order to maintain the student’s motivation.

The Mand procedure is used when a student is able to respond correctly in the model procedure, but is not able to participate in a conversation. On noticing the interest of the learner, the teacher may ask the student a question. For instance, the teacher may ask “what do you want?” If the student responds correctly, the teacher responds with a verbal praise and a verbal expansion. If the response is incorrect, a second mand may be presented or a corrective feedback given in form of a model procedure. Irrespective of the feedback, correct or incorrect, the student should be allowed access to the intended activity.

The time delay procedure is mostly used when the student is able to correctly respond in the model and mand procedures. It is mostly used to increase the unprompted use of a learnt language. When the teacher has noticed the student’s interest in a certain activity and has established joint attention, he delays for a short time awaiting the student’s response before allowing access to the activity. In case the student responds correctly, a verbal praise and an expansion to the praise is given. The student is then allowed access to the activity. If the language response is not the targeted one, a second time delay is presented. If the response is acceptable, a verbal praise is given. If incorrect, a corrective feedback inform of a mand or mand-model procedure. Access to the activity is then allowed.

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