Using Smartphones and Tablets in Video Modeling For Autism

using smartphones and tablets in video modeling for autism

There are tons of articles and lists about the best apps for kids with autism. However, you may be missing out on one of the best possible uses of smartphones and tablets for improving services for your learner: the camera app that is already built into the device.

A wealth of research has shown the efficacy of using video modeling to teach children and adults with autism, to train staff on how to implement programs and procedures, and to train parents on interventions. Smartphones and tablets make creating such videos much easier than it was in the past. Here’s why you should be using smartphones and tablets for video modeling for autism, as well as a few things to consider:

  • Be sure you have named the steps of the procedure or program you are modeling. It may be helpful to have those steps written down for the person using the video model.
  • If you are a teacher or practitioner recording your learner, be sure you have consent from the individual’s guardian(s). Also, check in about any recording policies at your school or center.
  • If you are a parent struggling to implement an intervention, request that the teacher or practitioner create a video model. It’s helpful to see someone else doing and to be able to refer back to that video as necessary.
  • If you are taking video of your learner for the first time, you may want to set up the tablet or smartphone without taking video for a few sessions before you actually create the video model. This will help avoid problems with the learner changing his or her behavior because a new (and often desirable) object is in the environment.
  • Consult the literature! As I mentioned before, there is a huge amount of research on video modeling. In recent years, it has been used to teach children with autism to make requests (Plavnick & Ferreri, 2011), increase treatment integrity for teachers implementing interventions (DiGennaro-Reed, Codding, Catania, & Maguire, 2010), teach children how to engage in pretend play (MacDonald, Sacramone, Mansfield, Wiltz, & Ahearn, 2009), increase social initiations of children with autism (Nikopoulos & Keenan, 2004), and more.

With the easy-to-use technology at our fingertips every day, video modeling is a simple and efficient way to demonstrate a new skill. This basic use of smartphones and tablets should not be overlooked because it can have a huge impact on teaching learners with autism new skills or helping parents and staff implement stronger programs and interventions.

References

DiGennaro-Reed, F. D., Codding, R., Catania, C. N., & Maguire, H. (2010). Effects of video modeling on treatment integrity of behavioral interventions. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43(2), 291–295.

MacDonald, R., Sacramone, S,. Mansfield, R., Witz, K., & Ahearn, W.H. (2009). Using video modeling to teach reciprocal pretend play to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(1), 43–55.

Nikopoulous, C.K. & Keenan, M. (2004). Effects of video modeling on social initiations by children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 37(1), 93–96.

Plavnick, J. B., & Ferreri, S. J. (2011). Establishing verbal repertoires in children with autism using function-based video modeling. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44(4), 747–766.

WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-12 in NYC. Working in education for ten years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam has developed strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently pursuing her PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College.

Tip of the Week: Use Your Smartphone as a Photo Journal

Your smartphone just may be an untapped resource in working on skills with your learner. There are several apps out there that allow you to record audio over photos or type text over photos, and many of them are free.

OurTriptoTheZoo
While there are many similar apps out there, I prefer the app Over for adding text to photos because it’s easy to use, offers a variety of fonts, and allows you to move the text to different parts of the pictures ($1.99 in the iTunes store).

 

For adding audio to videos or photos, I love Shuttersong (free in the iTunes store). This video illustrates how easy it is to use.

 

You can use these apps to help your learner with a variety of communication and cognitive skills.

Skills:

  • The apps can be used to help your learner identify people who were engaged in the activity with you. For example, if you take a trip to a petting zoo, you can take photos of the people who went with you. Depending on the level of your learner, this could involve naming the person pictured, discussing what animals were that person’s favorite, or describing things that person did or felt during the trip.
  • Apps can also be used to allow your learner to write or record a statement describing what happened. This can be done in the moment or later for the learner to practice recall.
  • You can print the pictures or save them to a document on your computer or tablet. Your learner can then put them in sequential order and tell you about his/her day.
  • If the learner is working on recall skills with other teachers/adults, you can provide the images to them so they can provide prompts to your learner as needed.

Benefits:

  • Allows you to provide visual prompts for your learner to aid in recalling recent events.
  • If your learners is highly motivated by using the cell phone, this can be a great way to get him/her involved in conversation related to activities you’ve participated in as a family or class.
  • It provides a functional use of the smartphone for your learner.