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What is video-modelling?

Video-modelling is a way to teach new skills or behaviour to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The video shows someone doing a skill or behaviour. The child watching the video copies the skill or behaviour.

There are four types of video-modelling:

  • Basic video-modelling: this uses other adults, peers or animation as models.
  • Video self-modelling: this uses the child with ASD as the model.
  • Point of view video-modelling: this shows what completing the task would look like from the child's point of view. For example, the video shows a pair of hands doing a task.
  • Video-prompting: this breaks up a task like brushing teeth into steps that the child watches as he completes the task.

Who is video-modelling for?

Video-modelling can be used for children and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What is video-modelling used for?

Video-modelling is used to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learn new skills like social, communication, play and daily living skills. It's also used to help children change their behaviour. For example, it can be used to reduce problem behaviour like aggression and tantrums.

Where does video-modelling come from?

Video-modelling was first used for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 1982 by researchers Monika Steinborn and Terry J. Knapp. They used videos of local streets to teach the child pedestrian skills.

Since then, various professionals have used video-modelling to teach a range of skills and behaviour to people with ASD.

What is the idea behind video-modelling?

Video-modelling is based on Albert Bandura's social learning theory (1977). According to this theory, people learn from each other by watching and copying.

For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), video-modelling seems to be more motivating and less threatening than face-to-face modelling. It also lets children with ASD focus on one aspect of a skill or behaviour at a time. They can watch the video as many times as they need to learn the skill.

What does video-modelling involve?

You can make videos yourself, professionals working with your child can make the videos, or you can get ready-made videos.

Each video models one or more behaviours or skills - for example, turn-taking, saying hello or brushing teeth. The child watches the video then copies the behaviour. The aim is for the child to build up to doing the skill or behaviour in other settings without needing to watch the video first.

Your child could use video-modelling at school or home or in therapy sessions with professionals like occupational therapists or psychologists.

Cost considerations

The cost of video-modelling depends on how you and your child use it.

If you make videos at home using yourself, your child or other family members as models, all you need is a phone or tablet that can take video.

If a professional like an occupational therapist or behavioural psychologist makes videos for you, you'll need to pay for this service.

Does video-modelling work?

Quality research shows that video-modelling is an effective way to teach many skills to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These skills include communication, social, behaviour, daily living and play skills.

Who practises video-modelling?

Anyone can use video-modelling.

You can make the videos to use with your child. Also, psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, play therapists and teachers can all make and use video modelling with your child.

Parent education, training, support and involvement

The time you spend on video-modelling depends on how your child uses this therapy.

If you're doing video-modelling at home, you could spend several hours a day over many years. Your time and involvement will be much less if your child is doing a short intervention using video-modelling at a clinic, or if it's being used in school.

Where can you find a practitioner?

You can talk about video-modelling with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood partner or NDIS local area coordination partner, if you have one.

There are many treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for children with ASD takes you through the main treatments, so you can better understand your child's options.


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