Video Modeling: First steps towards social engagement

September, 2010

This story, written by a mother of an 8 year old girl with Autism, recounts how the use of video modeling supported her daughter with social interactions. Not only were the outcomes of the video modeling strategy positive for her daughter, they were also positive for her peers.

We decided to try video modeling for our 8 year old daughter "S" who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is a very sociable child, but being fairly non-verbal she doesn’t know how to engage her friends. When a friend (or anyone) said "hi" to her, we would always have to prompt her to say "hi" back. Our first video would therefore be getting S to respond when someone says hi to her. We filmed a video with the following dialogue:

"When someone I know says “hi”, I turn toward them, look at them and say “hi”."

She watched this 3 times a day for 2 weeks and each day we would practice getting people to say “hi” to her. In her class, her classmates would all take turns saying hi and hoping for a response. As each day progressed, she got better at responding. As time went on, we noticed that she would slip a bit (not looking at the person if she was engaged in something), so we would re-watch the video and this would help get her back on track. Several months had gone by when a boy from her class (who is also a family friend) was standing behind her in line waiting for the bell turned and said “Hi S.” She turned around and said, “Hi R.” His whole face lit up and he said “She said my name!” So he said “Hi S” again and she responded “Hi R.” This went on about 7 times until finally she turned around and said “Hi” in a confused voice, but didn’t say his name. When he commented to me that she didn’t say his name, I told him that as she had already said it 7 times. I think she felt she didn’t need to keep saying it, but it was very exciting that she would use his name.

She still continues to use his name and that of others others when saying "hi". We do need to prompt her on other people’s names, but she does say "hi". When we notice the skill slipping, we just watch the video again.