Video modeling is an effective and innovative way to teach new skills and behaviours to students with ASD. It involves a model (could be a peer, adult or the target student) demonstrating positive examples of a desired behaviour in a video format. It is an evidence- based practice, meaning that it is a strategy or intervention that has led to consistently positive results when experimentally tested (Mesibov & Shea, 2011; Simpson, 2005) and that the experimental measures used to find these results were of a high research quality (Odom, Collet-Klingenberg, Rogers, & Hatton, 2010).
Research has shown that students with ASD learn better when watching a video model than a live model and that the learned skills are better maintained over time (Cohen & Sloan, 2007). Also, video modeling is cited as one of the interventions that successfully increases independence for students with ASD (Hume, Loftin, & Lantz, 2009). With such easy access to technology these days, video models can be made quickly and can be accessible in a variety of situations. Video models are helpful when trying to teach more complex social, communicative, adaptive and play behaviours, such as having a conversation, learning to wait for playground equipment or playing with a toy in a new way. These behaviours would difficult to accurately and explicitly teach using stationary pictures. Video models have also been helpful in reducing problem behaviour, such as crying and transition difficulties. Additionally, video models are beneficial as they can be watched as many times as the student needs, are easily available if the skill needs to be reviewed, and can be made at a very low cost.
Five Steps to Creating a Video Model
Although there are numerous commercially- made video models (see list below), it may be beneficial to create your own so that it can be targeted to a specific behaviour and individualized to your specific student.
Planning Items to Consider BEFORE Creating a Video Model
Decide on a format for your video: 1) Traditional video modeling (peer or adult as the model), video self-modeling (target student as the model) or point-of-view video modeling (target student’s point-of-view, no model needed).
Student’s ability to attend (this will affect the length and complexity of your video). If your target student is not able to attend or is only able to attend for a very short period of time, video modelling may not be appropriate at this time.
Student’s imitation skills. Your student must have imitation skills in order for video modeling to be an effective intervention.
Identify target skill. Consider if the target skill can be modelled appropriately through video modelling and if the target skill is achievable for your student at this time.
Collect baseline data on the target skill before intervention.
Choose a setting. This should be somewhere the student would be expected to display the target behaviour/ skill.
Create a script. The video should not be longer than 3-5 minutes and the content and vocabulary must be aligned with the student’s cognitive level.
Plan for how many instances the targeted behaviour will be displayed. Research has shown positive effects when the target behaviour is displayed between six and fourteen times (MacDonald, Sacramone, Mansfield, Wiltz, & Ahearn, 2009; Reagon, Higbee, & Endicott, 2006).
Creating the Video Model
Choose a recording device. Ensure that this device is able to capture both the picture and sound clearly.
Focus on displaying the target behaviour only. Make the target behaviour within the video very obvious. Eliminate all extraneous details from the video.
Using the Video Model as a Teaching Tool
Review the video to make sure the recording and the audio is of high quality. You do not want students to be distracted by a shaky recording or the sound of a plane overhead.
Identify an appropriate location and time of day for the student to watch the video. This location should be free of distractions and viewing should be scheduled for a time when the student is able to focus well.
Decide on the frequency of viewing. Research shows that repeated viewings; for example two or three times per session, increases the intervention effects for students with ASD (Shukla-Mehta Miller & Callahan, 2010). You may choose to have the student view the video a few times a day at the beginning and gradually fade as the student learns the skill/ behaviour.
Practicing the Skill and Monitoring Progress
Provide powerful reinforcement when the student displays the targeted behaviour. Collect data on student progress. This could be standardized or non-standardized assessments, behavioural observation or encouraging the student to self-monitor their behaviour (if appropriate).
Monitor and encourage the generalization of the target skill or behaviour to new environments, with new materials and/or with new people.
On-going assessment to monitor if the skill has truly been learned (maintenance).
If the video model intervention was successful, you may want to consider adding on to the first skill.
If the student has difficulty generalizing or maintaining the skill, create new videos in different settings, with different materials and/or different people.
Modify the video if the student did not learn the new behaviour. Ensure the behaviour was clearly displayed numerous times and that the video was free from extraneous distractions. Consider adding more or higher level prompts, if needed.
Online Resources/ Commercially-Made Video Models
POPARD’s Video Modelling in the West
POPARD’s How to Create A Self-Modelling
9th Planet www.9thplanet.org
Model Me Kids www.modelmekids.com
Raising the Bar: Fitness & Movement Exercises for Youth and Adults With Autism www.suzannemgray.com/dvd
Video-Modeling Keys www.SpectrumKeys.com
Watch Me Learn www.watchmelearn.com