All the Right Mov(i)es Video modeling can help children with autism spectrum disorder develop social communication and other skills. In a recent Web chat from ASHA’s online conference on social communication, autism expert and video modeling researcher Teresa A. Cardon shared how SLPs can apply this evidence-based strategy. The Leader listened in. Overheard
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Overheard  |   August 01, 2015
All the Right Mov(i)es
Author Notes
  • Teresa A. Cardon , PhD, CCC-SLP, director of autism studies at Utah Valley University, has been working with people with autism spectrum disorder for more than 20 years. teresa.cardon@uvu.edu
    Teresa A. Cardon , PhD, CCC-SLP, director of autism studies at Utah Valley University, has been working with people with autism spectrum disorder for more than 20 years. teresa.cardon@uvu.edu×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / ASHA News & Member Stories / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Overheard
Overheard   |   August 01, 2015
All the Right Mov(i)es
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.OV.20082015.30
The ASHA Leader, August 2015, Vol. 20, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.OV.20082015.30
Alysa Haas: How young do you start with video modeling (VM)? If an older student has not been introduced to VM, do you have data on its effectiveness in middle and high school students with autism or Asperger’s?
Teresa Cardon: Great question! I have done research with children as young as 23 months old. When it comes to older students, the research on VM is pretty clear that it is highly effective and efficient.
Alyssa Moseley: For very low-functioning kids, are there any specific skills they would need before VM could be used? Was prompting needed for the kids to generalize the skills learned in the video?
Cardon: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who struggle with imitation in general will often have a harder time with VM. The more impaired the imitation skills, the more severe an autism diagnosis, generally. In the studies I have done, we have allowed for a physical prompt if a child does not imitate after three viewings of a video model. That being said, not all children required a prompt. It was very individualized. Most children don’t require a heavy deal of physical prompting in my experience.
Liz Oesterreich: Have you seen video modeling used related to feeding disorders/feeding aversion?
Cardon: I have not personally used VM to work on food aversions, but I have several colleagues who have and they report success! Two of my colleagues use VM in conjunction with the SOS [Sequential Oral Sensory] feeding method and make it part of the exploration.
Hilary Hardwick: I have a [child who is 2 years and 9 months old] who would be perfect for video modeling but so far has shown no interest at all in the iPad. Have you found it successful to just run the video and see if the child gets interested? What other strategies would you suggest?
Cardon: That is a tricky one, Hilary. A child needs to show some interest in the video for there to be success with this methodology. Have you tried a different screen, such as a laptop? A smartphone? A different case around the iPad? I do not let children watch the VMs without the expectation of imitation being present because I want to establish the contingency: If you watch the video, then you imitate what you see. There are some children who are not responders to VM, and a child who is not interested in watching a TV or videos is a possible non-responder.
Hardwick: Not yet, but that’s a great idea. She likes the phone, but so far just throws it after a few seconds.
Cardon: Video engagement needs to come first for this particular intervention to work.
Julia Mahon: The results of your research clearly demonstrate that video modeling is more effective at achieving target social communication behaviors than live-modeling situations. What does this imply about the nature of social cognition in ASD and its differences in typically developing children? Why is the virtual world more effective than the “real” one for learning these behaviors? Does the presence of the adult in the room create a barrier to learning?
Cardon: Julia, you are kind of asking the “holy grail” of VM questions. There is a long, complicated answer to the question, but suffice it to say: In general, VM is an effective tool for individuals with autism because it minimizes the social implications of live interactions. It also creates a consistent, repetitive model that children can view over and over again (consistent with [Albert] Bandura’s social learning theory). VM is also highly motivating to any child who likes screens, and children with autism do better in general when they are highly motivated.

In general, video modeling is an effective tool for individuals with autism because it minimizes the social implications of live interactions.

Cassandra Pelletier: Do you find your clients attend better to video than books or pictures with real-life models?
Cardon: I recently concluded a study with a colleague where we looked at VM compared to static pictures (kind of like a social story), and while progress was made with the static pictures, the VM was more efficient and saw a faster response time across participants.
Pelletier: How many sessions do you spend targeting an imitation behavior using VM? Do you always build upon the original target, adding new components to the behavior?
Cardon: Totally depends on the individual child. For example, some kids learned a skill after one to three viewings and never needed to see the VM again. Some need more viewings. After the criterion is reached, we often add multiple steps if needed. That being said, I try to teach a total skill via VM whenever possible as opposed to breaking it down into tiny steps. But the beauty of VM is that if a child needs it broken down into tiny steps, you can film it that way, or just pause the VM to facilitate that level of learning as well. I let the data guide my decision making on when to move on for each individual child.
Andrea Gingras: Do you write “the use of VM” into the goal? Or just use VM as a tool?
Cardon: [It] pretty much depends on the child and where you are writing the goal for. Usually I write goals for imitation or following directions or increased independence for self-help skills. Then I may write down VM as one of the tools I will use to get there, but it pretty much depends if you are school-based, insurance, etc.
Radhika Sivarajan: How can video modeling be used for social-skills training (pragmatics)?
Cardon: Actually, that is one of the very first things researchers looked at with VM. There has been some success in teaching a variety of social skills across age ranges. I highly recommend a research article by [Scott] Bellini & [Jennifer] Akullian (2007) for more info on the topic.
Ann Roesch: Which device is better to record the video on—phone or mounted iPad? I used to use a flip camera quite a bit because it was so easy to edit on my laptop. The cameras, however, did not last long, and they no longer make them.
Cardon: I, too, remember the days of the flip camera. In general, I recommend using whatever device you can get your hands on that makes decent videos! If you are going to be teaching fine-motor tasks, there is some research by [K.M.] Ayres and colleagues that suggests a bigger screen can better support fine-motor tasks. I have found iPad Minis, smartphones and laptops to all work really well in general. A regular-size iPad is my device of choice, but that is a personal preference.

I recommend using whatever device you can get your hands on that makes decent videos!

Beverly Cheeks: Have you ever tried to use VM to teach a desired behavior before an outing with a child, such as a field trip to the library or other places?
Cardon: Absolutely! Priming with VM is a great way to use it. I have them “practice” in the controlled setting as well because, as I said before, I always want the expectation to be that action occurs after they watch the VM. I was consulting with a school where drop-offs were a nightmare for one little guy. We “backward chained” the task via a VM and he practiced tiny pieces of the skill until he could do the whole thing.
Kathryn Ann Mease: Regarding video priming, would it be OK not to expect mastery of the skill, and just use the VM as a means of preparing a student for an event that will happen in the future by making a video of the event more familiar and predictable?
Cardon: Sure, try it! We have used books like that for years—trip to the dentist, new baby at home.
Weinberg: Do you have any experience with/tips for using VM with a student who uses AAC [augmentative and alternative communication]? The student I have in mind happens to use an iPad. Would you suggest using her own device for the videos and switching back and forth with her communication app, or using an entirely different device? I don’t want to take away her means of communication while using the videos, but two screens seems a bit cumbersome!
Cardon: That is such a tough question! In that case, I would say try it with one device, track the data, and then if it is too tricky, go with two devices.
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August 2015
Volume 20, Issue 8