Summary of a video modeling tutorial

blogEntryThumbnailWhile preparing for a recent workshop in San Diego, I discovered a video modeling tutorial, “Incorporating Video Modeling Into a School-Based Intervention for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders” by Kaitlyn P. Wilson. The article - in the January 2013 edition of Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools (LSHSS) journal - described the steps for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) to effectively implement video modeling for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I thought the content was excellent for including in my workshop and a blog post.

For this blog post, I’d like to summarize the five procedural phases presented in the tutorial:

Phase 1: Preparation
  • Choosing an appropriate target skill - Choose a skill that is clearly modeled and easily observed, as well as individualized to the student’s needs. Internal skills such as receptive language (e.g., comprehending vocabulary words) or social understanding (e.g., recognizing others’ emotions) are not appropriate targets for video modeling. However, observable external skills such as greetings, requesting, taking turns in play, or initiating interactions are the most appropriate targets for video modeling.
  • Choosing a model type - Intervention has been proven effective using all types of models, including peers, adults, and self (i.e., the student). Studies have shown that using the student as the self model is most effective when the goal is to reduce problem behaviors or increase compliance.
  • Choosing a setting - The ideal setting for the video model will be the setting in which the student is expected to perform the targeted skill. Using the natural setting has been shown to produce greater intervention effects and higher levels of skill maintenance and generalization.
  • Scripting the video model - The optimal length of the video model is 3-5 minutes, but studies have shown intervention effects with videos ranging from 35 s > 5 min. To determine the optimal length for a given student, consider the student’s attention span or arrange a trial viewing. There are additional considerations for scripting the video model such as whether to add a voiceover narration. For some students, the added narration can pose an auditory processing problem that reduces the intervention’s effectiveness.

Phase 2: Recording of the Video Model
  • Choosing equipment - Choose a video recorder that will provide adequate video and audio quality during playback to the student.

Phase 3: Implementation of the Video Modeling Intervention
  • Determining setting and frequency of viewing - In regard to the setting for video playback, it is best to choose a setting that is quiet and free from distractions. In regard to the frequency of viewing, research suggests repeated viewing (two to four times per session) increases intervention effects for some children with ASD.
  • Determining timing of viewing - The video model can be played immediately prior to the child demonstrating the expected behavior (to target imitation of the behavior). Or, the video model can be played at a time removed from the situation in order to target learning, maintenance and generalization of the skill.
  • Determining who will implement the intervention - With some instruction from the SLP, any of the student’s caregivers or classroom staff can implement the video modeling intervention.

Phase 4: Monitoring of Student’s Response to the Video Modeling Intervention
  • Choosing methods of data collection - Since few standardized tests are sensitive to changes in targeted behaviors, an adequate form of progress monitoring is behavioral observation. A predetermined criterion can be used in the behavioral observation to assess the student’s progress based on their goals. You may also choose to include the student in the data collection via self-monitoring of the targeted skill.
  • Promoting and evaluating generalization and maintenance of skills - Generalization of video modeling intervention in different settings and with different people has been demonstrated for students with ASD. Generalization has been shown following as few as three video modeling sessions; plus, maintenance of acquired skills has been observed for as many as 15 months following video modeling intervention.

Phase 5: Planning of Next Steps
  • Next steps if video modeling is effective - If a student demonstrates progress in the targeted behavior, the SLP may wish to expand on the skill. For example, if a student displays progress on a pointing skill, the SLP may choose to expand the video modeling to pointing and a vocalization.
  • Modification options if video modeling is not initially effective - If the student initially demonstrates little or no progress with the targeted skill, the SLP may choose to modify the intervention based on the individual student’s preferences, strengths, and needs. Modifying the video modeling intervention could include changing the individuals modeling the targeted skill (if the student doesn’t like the individuals), or silencing the sound during video playback (if the auditory information is posing a processing problem).
  • Alternative intervention options if video modeling is not effective - Video modeling will not be effective for all students. If modifications to the video modeling intervention have not resulted in progress of the targeted skill, there are alternative treatment options. Alternative effective interventions include self-monitoring strategies, individual work systems, peer-mediated strategies, social skill groups, and social stories.

In this blog post, I summarized five procedural phases of implementing video modeling in a school based intervention for students with ASD. If you want to learn more, I recommend that you read the journal article in LSHSS: Note that you must have access to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) online journals in order to view the full article.

NY Times article regarding apps for autism

blogEntryThumbnailYesterday, the New York Times ran an article about the iPad and apps for autism. I was proud to see that my blog,, was mentioned in the company of other great websites. It's an honor to know that people look at my blog and resources to learn about apps for autism and special needs.