Video Modeling

I have been a proponent for the use of video with Special Education since 1992 and the first teacher to submit video as evidence of student achievement for the New York State Alternate Assessment Program. I also proposed a program training staff to create and maintain video portfolios that would follow untestable students throughout their school career.

The portfolio, consisting of 90 second vignettes, would serve as evidence of achievement as well as a time line of student progress.

My Video Portfolios presentation to the NYC department of education

Since 2007,I have engaged nearly 200 children on the Spectrum in computer-assisted activities promoting metacognition and language development.

These videos are evidence of how students can be engaged productively by a technology that:

  • offers the security of a non-threatening, self-paced  learning experience
  • promotes 2-way communication
  • empowers them to make personal choices
  • provides a fun experience that is easy for them to comprehend
  • motivates them to interact with the outside world

Video helped many of my students to interact more appropriately with me and to master an important technology.

I have seen improvements in communication and behavior,  especially by my “lower”  functioning and pre-verbal students.

Recently, I presented on my personal experiences with video at  Celebrating the Strengths of Autism” in Orlando June 2011.  A video of  this full day event will be published in the near future.


An Dr Stephen Shore, Ann Millan and I speak with Kathleen Tehrani about the value of video modeling with autism.

This brief video explains perfectly how technology improves our ability to address autism. Behavior Imaging Solutions uses “Tivo”-like video recording to capture behavior BEFORE, during and after a behavior event. Visual clips can be annotated to building a data-base of menaingful information. Plus, it can be stored and viewed online by experts.

Watch this brief video describing the Behavior Capture system.

Peter Dowrick has been called “the father of video modeling”Creating Futures, a unit of the Center on Disability Studies (CDS)/College of Education, University of Hawaii, is directed by Drs. Peter Dowrick and JoAnn W.L. Yuen, Ed.DVideo Futures centers provide instructional materials and consultation to educators, clinicians, and family members in the use of positive video futures strategies (self modeling,feedforward, video explorations). * Self modeling: in which you see yourself succeeding at something you find very difficult. * Feedforward: you see yourself doing something you’ve never previously achieved… * Video explorations: videos of you (or by you) in possible futures further down the roadVideo Futures Start-Up Kits include: * 4 Videos: how-to step-by-step , an overview, and loads of examples * Users’ Guidebook: field tested, step-by-step teach yourself * Cases studies, articles, access to further consultation, many free services.

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.