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Video Modeling and Autism Spectrum Disorder

November 30, 2017

I have been researching video modeling as an intervention to support children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for over ten years, and while video modeling is a go-to resource for me, I was reminded recently that it is a new concept for many people.  There are plenty of research articles regarding video modeling, so I decided to write a blog post about video modeling that is accessible and much less formal than a research paper.



Video modeling occurs when video recordings are utilized to demonstrate a task or skill in the hopes that an individual with ASD will imitate the skill being modeled. It is considered an evidence-based practice with almost 20 years of research behind it. Video modeling has been used with children as young as two-years-old all the way up through adulthood. If you think about it, youtube provides all sorts of “video models” that many of us use to learn new skills, fix things around the house, work out a glitch on our computers, etc.


Video modeling for individuals with ASD has been demonstrated to be effective in home, community, school, and clinical settings. The model in the video can be an adult or a child, a familiar person or an unfamiliar person. The key is to choose a task that is relevant and developmentally appropriate. I have used video modeling to teach imitation skills (e.g., gestures & objects), play skills (e.g., blocks, shape sorters, pretend play), self help skills (e.g. making a bed, cooking), etc. I recommend you consult with your child’s therapist/educator to help determine what skills would be appropriate to work on.


Here are the steps for creating and implementing video modeling: 

(Cardon, 2015 - Chapter 8)


1. Determine the target behavior you would like to focus on. The target behavior

should be developmentally appropriate given the child’s age and stage.


2. Determine who you would like to film as the video model.


3. Determine how you would like to film the video (i.e., Classic vs. Self vs. Point of



4. Have the model practice the target behavior several times. Creating a task

analysis, or a list of the necessary steps, can be helpful. It is helpful to have the

model verbalize, or describe, what they are doing. Or, think about what a child

would say naturally when completing the task. Verbalizing during the video model is

important because children often start to imitate what they hear and see!


5. Practice filming the model performing the target behavior with the video

application on your smartphone or tablet.


6. Watch the video to make sure that you have captured every step of the target

behavior and to make sure that the sound and picture quality is clear.


7. Present the video model to the child in an environment that is appropriate and

conducive to their learning. Be sure to have any objects or materials that the child

will need to complete the task nearby.


8. Play the video model for the child one time. If an object is required for the target

behavior, have it sitting nearby where they can reach it or be sure to immediately

hand them the item when the video is over.


9. If the child imitates, praise them! If the child does not imitate, play the video for

them again.


10. If the child has three unsuccessful attempts, feel free to physically prompt the

child to perform the target behavior. A physical prompt can help them understand

what is required of them and may increase their level of success.


If you are interested in learning more, I have included some research articles and one book below. If you don’t have access to a University library, Google Scholar is one of my favorite ways to find research articles. Happy recording!


Ayres, K. M., & Langone, J. (2005). Intervention and instruction with video for students with autism: A review of the literature. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 40(2), 183–196.


Bellini, S., & Akullian, J. (2007). A meta-analysis of video modeling and video self-modeling interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Exceptional Children, 73, 261–284.


Cardon T. (2015). Technology and the Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum
Disorder; ASD and Child Psychopathology
. Springer: NY, NY.  [Full disclosure - I receive royalties from this publication.]  


Cardon, T. (2013). Video Modeling Imitation Training to Support Gestural Imitation Acquisition in Young Children with ASD. Speech, Language and Hearing. 16(4), 227-238. DOI: 10.1179/2050572813Y.0000000018


Cardon, T. (2012). Teaching caregivers to implement video modeling imitation training via iPad for their children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 1389-1400.


Cardon, T. & Azuma, T. (2012). Visual attending preferences in children with autism spectrum disorders: A comparison between live and video presentation modes. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 1061-1067.


Cardon, T. & Wilcox, M. J. (2011). Promoting imitation in young children with autism: A comparison of reciprocal imitation training and video modeling. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 41, 5, 654-677.


Corbett, B. A. (2003). Video modeling: A window into the world of autism. The Behavior Analyst Today, 4, 88–96.


Nikopoulos, C. K., & Keenan, M. (2003). Promoting social initiation in children with autism using video modeling. Behavioral Interventions, 18, 87–108.




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