Evaluating the Effectiveness of Video Instruction on Social and Communication Skills Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Literature

by Shukla-Mehta, S., Miller, T., and Callahan, K.J.

Objective:  This article is a review of the literature to determine the effectiveness of social skills and communication training using video modeling techniques. 

Method:   Video modeling literature included in this review met the following inclusion-exclusion criteria:  video modeling must be used in the particular study, participants must have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder, the video modeling technique targeted a communication or social skill, a research design was used in the implementation of the study, and the articles must be published in a peer evaluated journal.  Twenty-six studies (falling into three specific video modeling technique categories) met the above criteria and were included in the review.

The first video modeling technique discussed was video modeling (VM) interventions.  The authors defined video modeling as:  allowing the student with ASD to view an appropriate model prior to the student demonstrating the skill.  Research using video modeling techniques without supports (absence of adult mediated reinforcement, prompting, and error correction) suggest that students with ASD made gains in completion of social and communication skills and also demonstrated these skills to untrained people, settings, and materials.  Research conducted using video modeling with supports (direct instruction using reinforcement, prompting, and error correction) suggest that students with ASD also make gains in pro-social behavior and are able to generalize these skills and a rapid pace.

The second video modeling technique discussed in the literature was video self monitoring (VSM).  This was described as students acting as their own model in demonstrating the correct behavior.  Results suggest that this technique can be challenging to implement. It can be difficult to teach a target student to engage in the role play behavior.  Data suggest that using VSM can increase the rate of social initiations and engagement, response to others’ questions and spontaneous requests.

The third video modeling technique discussed was point-of-view modeling (PVM).  This intervention consists of videotaping from the perspective of the target student.  This intervention is very new and has only been discussed in two published studies.  Promising use of PVM may be used to assist in reducing problematic behaviors during transitions.

Discussion: Based on the published literature on video modeling the following guidelines are suggested.  First, using instructional prompts and techniques such as prompting, shaping, and reinforcement can aide in the acquisition and generalization of social and communication related skills.  Secondly, pre-requisite skills such as imitation, attending, and match to sample skills may need to be part of the student’s behavioral repertoire before attempting video modeling strategies.  Thirdly, for students with ASD who have difficulty attending to a video stimulus for longer than one minute, video messages should include only the information that the student needs to access.  Fourth, video clip segments should be 3-5 minutes in duration.  Finally, the “type” of model utilized in VM did not affect student learning.  However, it did appear that VSM was less effective than VM.

Conclusion:  The current research on VM techniques for students with ASD is very promising.  Further research is needed to determine which video modeling strategy would best be suited for individual learners.

Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities