Considerations for creating effective video models for individuals with autism learn with emily dot com

Considerations for Creating Effective Video Models for Autism

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There are many ways to teach new skills. One way is to create video models for autism of a skill or activity sequence. Research has demonstrated that video models are an effective way to teach individuals with autism a variety of new skills. Research also tells us ways to make our video models more effective.

What does the literature say about creating effective video models for autism?

Consider the observer and carefully structure the content and conditions of exposure accordingly (Dowrick & Jesdale, 1991). My personal recommendation is to avoid non-examples in the video. A non-example would show what not to do.

Considering the observer…

There are four components that contribute to successful observational learning:

1.  The attention to modeled events

2.  The ability to retain what is observed

3.  The ability to imitate the modeled behaviors

4. The motivation to reproduce the modeled behaviors

(Bandura, A.  1969, 1977)

If a child does not have imitation skills, the video model will likely be ineffective. From my experience, I would say the most effective video models are those that demonstrate what to do. If a child understands what to do in sequence but does not want to perform the task, a video model will not help.

Carefully structured content…

Strategies supported by the literature:

1.  Use multiple models (Charlop & Milstein, 1989).

2.  Use models that are similar in appearance or background (Kazdin, 1974).

3.  Structure the skills so that they are rule based.  Explicit instruction increases generalization of the skill (Minshew, Goldstein, Muenz, & Payton, 1992).

Personally, I have found that children with autism like watching videos of people they know. Really, any person who can accurately perform the target task could be used as a model in the video.

In summary, when creating video models for autism, make sure the child has pre-requisite attending skills to benefit from the video first. Next, make sure that the skill you are targeting can be broken down into specific steps. Rule-based skills will help promote generalizations to new settings and situations. Last, consider using models the child would be interested in observing.

For further reading on video models for autism, consider the following books:



Bandura, A.  (1969).  Principles of Behavior Modification.  New York: Hold, Rinehart, and Winston.

Bandura, A.  (1977).  Social Learning Theory.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Charlop, M. H., & Milstein, J. P. (1989).  Teaching autistic children conversational speech using video modeling.  Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, 22, 275-285.

Dorwrick, P. W. and Jesdale, D. C.  (1991).  “Modeling” pp 64-76 from Practical Guide to Using Video in the Behavioral Sciences.  New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kazdin, A. D. (1974).  The effect of model identity and fear-relevant similarity on covert modeling.  Behavior Therapy, 5, 624-635.

Minshew, N., Goldstein, G., Muenz, L., & Payton, J.  (1992).  Neuropsychological functioning of nonmentally retarded autistic individuals.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 14, 749-761.


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