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Making videos instructional rather than mind numbing

By: Dr. Tiffany G. Showalter, OTD, OTR/L

Have you ever noticed how many children with autism absolutely love watching videos? They can be heard reciting dialogue or even observed imitating behaviors long after the experience is over. This ability makes sense as it has been suggested that individuals with autism see things in “pictures”. I recently had a parent report that her child has motor planning issues when it comes to participation in gross and fine motor tasks, but has learned every dance that they do on Sesame Street. Wouldn’t it be a great idea if we could teach children using what they love the most?

Maybe we can! Video modeling is a teaching method used to develop and strengthen a variety of skills from communication to self-help. The targeted behaviors that the child is to learn are videotaped as a neuro-typical child performs them. Next, the child watches the video and is given the chance to memorize, imitate, and generalize those behaviors.

Some examples include computer animated learning or video instruction. I recently attended an Autism conference in my area where I participated in a session on this incredible method of instruction and was doubly excited to learn the incredible amount of research supporting it. My session described how researchers at a local state university were using IPODs to video tape and then show to children with difficulties in a variety of areas. Their success was remarkable and has inspired me to consider writing a mini grant proposal at the school where I work to try it out myself. I have also learned u-tube has a ton of videos already available for use.

I also attended a session on using video instruction to teach printing upper and lowercase letters. After watching the videos myself I have been hooked and using them since with great results for children regardless of disability.

So the next time your child demonstrates a problem with using good manners at the table, washing their hands, or tying their shoes, why not try video modeling?

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