Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Two Variations of Video Modeling Interventions for Teaching Play Skills to Children with Autism

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Two Variations of Video Modeling Interventions for Teaching Play Skills to Children with Autism

Article excerpt


The current study employed an adapted alternating treatments design with reversal and multiple probe across participants components to compare the effects of traditional video priming and simultaneous video modeling on the acquisition of play skills in two children diagnosed with autism. Generalization was programmed across play sets, instructors, and settings. Overall, both video modeling procedures proved to be effective in teaching and producing maintenance of play skills. For one participant, these procedures appeared to be equally effective in terms of acquisition of the main dependent variable, scripted play actions. For another participant, scripted play actions were acquired more quickly in the simultaneous condition.

KEYWORDS: autism, play skills, scripts, simultaneous video modeling, video priming


Imitation is considered one of the basic processes of learning and is utilized in the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) as a means of teaching new behaviors (Nikopoulos & Keenan, 2006; Pierce & Cheney, 2008). A model can be defined as the demonstration of behavior to be imitated or as the individual providing the model (Mazur, 1998). Over the past twenty years, modeling via video has been increasingly used as an effective teaching procedure for children with autism (Bellini & Akullian, 2007). Video modeling is defined as the demonstration of behavior that is not live, but is presented via video in an effort to change existing behaviors or teach new ones (Dowrick, 1991). The learner views the model on the screen and is given the opportunity to imitate the observed responses (Reagon, Higbee, & Endicott, 2006).

Video modeling has been effectively used to decrease problem behaviors (e.g., off-task behavior; Coyle & Cole, 2004), as well as increase appropriate behaviors, including social initiations (e.g., Nikopoulos & Keenan, 2007), perspective taking skills (e.g., LeBlanc et al., 2003), daily living skills (e.g., Shipley-Benamou, Lutzker, & Taubman, 2002), and helping skills (e.g., Reeve, Reeve, Townsend, & Poulson, 2007). Recently, a number of studies have examined the use of video modeling for teaching play skills to children with autism (i.e., D' Ateno, Mangiapanello, & Taylor, 2003; Dauphin, Kinney, & Stromer, 2004; Hine & Wolery, 2006; MacDonald, Clark, Garrigan, & Vangala, 2005; MacDonald, Sacramone, Mansfield, Wiltz, & Ahearn, 2009; Nikopolous & Keenan, 2003; Paterson & Arco, 2007; Reagon et al., 2006; Taylor, Levin, & Jasper, 1999). Effective interventions for teaching play are important because children with autism often fail to develop repertoires of play seen in typically developing children. This literature indicates that video modeling has produced meaningful increases in appropriate play skills, as well as imitation of play scripts, and social initiations across participants. Limitations of this research include lack of strategies to increase unscripted actions and verbalizations, as well as programming for and assessing generalization across settings and materials. In addition, it is unknown which specific procedural variations of video modeling procedures might prove most effective in teaching play skills to children with autism.

Although a number of procedural variations of video modeling have been used to teach learners with developmental disabilities, an important one relevant to the current study is the timing of the video observation relative to the opportunity to engage in the response. In most studies on video modeling, video priming is used in which the learner watches a video model (i.e., training session) and later has an opportunity to engage in the response with similar materials, people, and/or settings (i.e., probe session). During training sessions, learners might be prompted to attend to the video (e.g., Charlop & Milstein, 1989; Schreibman, Whalen, & Stahmer, 2000) and/or receive reinforcement delivered contingent upon attending (e. …

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