Popularizing the use of video modeling with autism

Kids love to see themselves, Can we capitalize on this motivation to help autism?  Many respected researchers say yes.

Everybody loves to watch family movies.  Traveling soccer, picnics, and vacations.  We watch them all…. once.  Then we toss the tapes into the VHS cabinet, only to trot them back out in time for Aunt Mildred’s holiday visit.   (“Mildred.! You wore a mini skirt in college!  You were such a “hottie”.)  ”

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  “Monkey see; monkey do”.   Our culture assumes the power of the image.  But have you personally ever considered how to harness that power in service of autism?  Besides the researchers who continue to explore this topic, there are companies who are doing that, while providing us with valuable tools.   But, what if you have students who do not even recognize themselves in a mirror.  Could video help these children as well?  Yes. Regardless of a child’s self-image, the teacher can capture their attention and then draw that focus to the video image.  In essence, the teacher leads the child to “see” himself.

View my Smile for the camera! clip.

Video can often have a profound effect on behavior, especially for moderate to severely involved students.  It doesn’t require a trained eye to recognize the “A-ha!” moment … the flash when a child first “gets it”.   When that happens, the child is ready to learn.  The importance of this moment is underscored by the work of  Drs Lynn and Robert Koegel, early ABA researchers,  who have developed Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) “… a naturalistic intervention model derived from ABA approaches. Rather than target individual behaviors one at a time, PRT targets pivotal areas of a child’s development, such as motivation, responsivity to multiple cues, self-management, and social initiations. By targeting these critical areas, PRT results in widespread, collateral improvements in other social, communicative, and behavioral areas that are not specifically targeted.

I do not make any claims for specific programming, commercial videos or styles of video modeling.  I applaud all efforts in this direction.  I simply make the case that video modeling, in any form, offers us a powerhouse tool  to engage a children in a manner that promotes communication,  social and academic skills acquisition as well as  decision-making.

Here is the first of 3 brief articles introducing the subject of video modeling to the general.   In subsequent posts, I will promote the importance of having wide spread participation in the survey.  I will also offer a line up of programming designed  to engage and inform the public about video modeling, in all its forms, now and in the future.


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