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Video Modeling For Autistic Students

Updated on March 14, 2014

What Is Video Modeling?

In education modeling is the act of serving as an example or behavior of a skill for a student to emulate and learn. It is a form of scaffolding, or supporting a student until they can perform the task on their own and generalize what they have learned to fit in their world.

Video modeling is teaching by modeling on video display using recording equipment. In the past this may have sounded difficult and expensive. Today's technology has changed that with options of recording and displaying without lugging out a standard sized VHS recorder. Today, even phones have excellent video recording functions.

Why Use Video Modeling?

Several single-subject studies support video modeling as a highly effective evidence based treatment for autism. Because autism is a communication disorder children across the spectrum (meaning from mild cases to severe) will experience difficulties with expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) language. Pictures speak words for children with autism. The visual mode is the most effective way to communicate with and teach autistic students.

Communication boards and schedule menus with symbols or realistic pictures have traditionally been used for teaching autistic children. Although effective, video modeling with the student, peers and adults are much more natural. Students who learn skills from a natural setting can generalize, or use skills in a variety of settings better than from symbols or pictures.

Having a family member with autism can be stressful at times. In the home, video modeling can be a fun and enjoyable experience. At school, video modeling can be a more time efficient method of teaching. Once made, videos can be used instead of live modeling.

Teaching With Video Modeling

Video modeling can be used to teach every thing from daily living skills to academics. The setting for recording and reviewing can be the home, school or therapeutic setting. Parents, teachers and therapists can collaborate in recording skills and having the learner practice them.

Video modeling is best when incorporated into Applied Behavior Analysis programs. ABA is a proven effective and widely used method for teaching autistic students. ABA uses observable and measurable learning objectives while manipulating the environment to increase (desired) or decrease (undesired) behavior.

ABA Teaching Theories

task analysis (analyzing a task to determine components)

chaining (small units of tasks taught)

prompting (cues, assistance, including modeling)

shaping (modifying behavior)

thinning (spacing out prompts or rewards)

reinforcement (used to increase or decrease a behavior)

fading (phasing out prompts)

generalizing (using the learning in another setting)

Examples Of Skills For Using VM

  • initiating a conversation
  • sharing, taking turns
  • perspective taking,(understanding emotions of others)
  • personal grooming
  • joining a play group
  • vocabulary skills
  • telling time
  • using a calendar
  • preparing a simple meal
  • making a bed
  • asking for assistance

Planning Video Modeling

While there are a number of many good commercial videos available for teaching language and social skills to autistic students sometimes a video created by the parent, teacher or therapist can be more effective. The video can be tailored directly to the learner's needs. There are four techniques for creating video clips that can be used to match those needs. Achieve a good balance by mixing instructor-made clips with purchased ones.

In planning the making of a VM clip the skill taught and the level of knowledge the student has regarding the skill will be the guiding factors. Following are the types of VM clips.

basic video modeling: someone other than the learner models the target behavior. use for skills new to the student.

video self-modeling: the learner models the behavior. use for reviewing when the learner is close to mastery.

point of view video modeling: the target behavior is recorded from the perspective of the learner. use when the learner has a desire to accomplish the task and knows what he needs to accomplish.

video prompting: breaks skills into steps. recorded with pauses allowing students to attempt the steps. use for skills with multiple steps.

Creative Kindergarten

Learn how to set up a Creative Kindergarten Classroom.

How To Do A Task Analysis

Skill: Brushing Teeth

  1. get tooth brush and tooth paste
  2. unscrew cap from tooth paste
  3. wet tooth brush
  4. apply tooth paste to brush
  5. brush top teeth down from gum line, front
  6. brush top teeth down from gum line, back
  7. brush bottom teeth up from gum line, front
  8. brush bottom teeth up from gum line, back
  9. get cup of water
  10. rinse mouth and spit
  11. rinse out tooth brush
  12. replace cap on tooth paste
  13. return tooth bush to holder

Steps For Creating A VM Clip

  1. Identify an observable and measurable target behavior
  2. collect baseline data
  3. obtain recording and play back equipment
  4. conduct a task analysis of the skill to be taught
  5. create script and scene lay-out
  6. record and edit with editing software

Other Tips For VM clips:

  • record the learner doing something appropriate so that he serves as his own model
  • record the learner saying words. clip and save, then drag and drop recorded words to sequence into sentences for the learner to review.
  • use "voice over" recording, such as : "I use my spoon".
  • use the most natural setting possible or recording.
  • decide where, when and how often the video will be viewed.
  • watch the video with the learner prompting them to pay attention.
  • monitor progress. collect data on the learner's performance. trouble shoot and re-adjust.
  • as steps are learned fade prompts and only show scenes where the learner makes mistakes.

Trouble Shooting Tips For Video Modeling

  • Is the skill difficulty level too high for the student?
  • Is the learner watching the video enough times?
  • Is the learner paying attention?
  • Is another task analysis needed?

Technology in education is advancing the teaching and learning of disabled students at a tremendous rate, Embrace technology in the classroom for these students. It is important and could improve their quality of like exponentially.

Great Hubs To Visit For Autism Topics


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    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You are so welcome, Debra. I am glad to hear that you will be trying video modeling!

    • Debra Moorer profile image

      Debra Moorer 

      7 years ago from Lumberton, New Jersey

      As a mom of a special needs child and a teacher, this is a wonderful explaination and help. We need more people like you. Thank you again for your help in this idea. We are going to use this in our summer program.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      That is awesome, HawaiiHeart. You have made my work on this priceless!Good luck with video modeling. Let me know how it goes!

    • HawaiiHeart profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      As a mom of a child with an ASD this hub is very much appreciated and very useful. I hope to implement some of what you wrote to help my child with his social interaction skills.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thank YOU for the visit. I am glad to see those new technologies are recognized@

    • whonunuwho profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      As a former teacher, I really appreciate this hub. Thanks for letting me know of exciting new approaches in teaching kids with special needs.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Christy!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a thorough hub Rebecca. You even outline ways to make the video even stronger! Well written and informative too.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Blossom SB! I hope lots of teachers will try video modeling.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      7 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      What great ideas. I'm sure these will be useful for a number of parents and teachers.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks! And there are so many easy ways to make videos these excuses!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Great tips. Teaching by video is a great idea. It really isn't too hard to create a customized video - just takes a bit of time and effort, but oh so worth it. If the person in the video is the student themselves or someone they know it helps them connect even further.

      Thank you for sharing this idea with us.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks billybuc. I appreciate the comment!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub! As a former teacher I applaud your daily efforts for one of the most underrated jobs in this country. Keep up the good fight.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks Teresa.I hope the instructions are clear and helpful. It is hard to illustrate this with photos!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Well laid out hub Rebecca with easy to follow guides for the parent or educator of autistic children. I will refer this hub to some colleagues I work with often who work exclusively with autistic kids!


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