Step by Step: Social Skills Instruction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Video Models and Peer Mentors

By Ogilvie, Christine R. | Teaching Exceptional Children, July/August 2011 | Go to article overview

Step by Step: Social Skills Instruction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Video Models and Peer Mentors


Ogilvie, Christine R., Teaching Exceptional Children


At recess, I walked over to Chuckle and patted her on the head. My mother had shown me how to pet my poodle on the head to make friends with him. And my mother petted me sometimes, too, especially when I couldn't sleep. So as far as I could tell, petting worked. All the dogs my mother told me to pet had wagged their tails. They liked it. I figured Chuckie would like it too. (Robison, 2008, p. 9)

In his book Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger's, John Elder Robison (2008) recounted the sometimes awkward social interactions of his childhood. Characteristic of someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as a child Robison found it difficult to interact with his peers because he did not pick up on the social cues around him. For children with ASD, impairments in social skills can impact interactions with peers, family members, and the world (American Psychiatric Association, 2004). Impairments in social skills vary torn person to person, and may include lack Of eye contact, limited affect, or nonexistent verbal communication (Volkmar & Tidmarsh, 2003). Researchers have investigated different ways to help students master the "hidden curriculum"- the social rules that exist and vary in every setting (Rutherford, Mathur, & Quinn, 1998; Smith Myles & Simpson, 2001).

One strategy for teaching social skills to children with ASD is to use a combination of video modeling and peer mentoring (Bellini & Akullian, 2007; Fuchs & Fuchs, 2005). Videos can be played repeatedly, which is beneficial to students with ASD who learn through repetition. In addition, video models provide real-life examples of the desired skills, taking the mystery out of some facets of social interaction and creating a concrete visual for students with ASD (Bellini & Akullian, 2007; Sherer et al., 2001). Combining video modeling with peer mentoringusing peers of students with disabilities to practice skills, provide feedback on the skills, and provide increased chances for social engagement (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2005)- can foster a greater impact in providing social skills instruction.

What Is Video Modeling?

Video modeling is a promising practice, endorsed by the Council for Exceptional Children (Bellini & Akullian, 2007), which involves demonstrating desired behaviors and role-playing through video images. The student with ASD watches a video that demonstrates the desired behavior and then is asked to imitate the behavior. The video focuses on an event or problem situation, for example, a social interaction (Williams Glaser, Rieth, Kinzer, Colburn, & Peter, 1999). Video modeling strategies include video prompting, in-vivo modeling, video modeling, and video self-modeling (see Table 1).

In recent years, the benefits of video modeling for children with ASD have been increasingly documented. Video modeling responds to the unique characteristics of students with ASD - including their being visual learners; having restrictive, repetitive interests (e.g., watching the same video or TV show over and over); and having relatively strong imitation skills- and has been proven to be a valuable tool for teachers, practitioners, and family members. Video modeling can help students acquire new skills (Corbett & Abdullah, 2005), increase generalization of skills across settings (Bellini, Akullian, & Hopf, 2007), promote selfawareness (Charlop-Christy & Daneshvar, 2003), and enhance existing skills (Wert & Neisworth, 2003).

Video modeling also supports the learning of students with ASD by reducing stimulus overselectivity (Charlop-Christy & Daneshvar, 2003). Stimulus overselectivity refers to taking in too much visual information without the ability to effectively filter out unnecessary information. Minimizing the focus area (the TV or computer screen that the child is watching) increases the student's ability to attend to the information. The student's attention is drawn to the screen rather than focusing on other activities or objects in the environment. …

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Step by Step: Social Skills Instruction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Video Models and Peer Mentors
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