Easy Ways To Help Your Child Socialize Using Video Self-Modeling

Is saying hello or waving “hi” hard for your child to do?

Does your child ask you questions about something you shared with him/her?

Will your child ask another child to play?

Easy Ways To Help Your Child Socialize Using Video Self-Modeling http://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/help-your-child-socialize-using-video-self-modeling

These may be some of the challenges your child with autism faces every day, and they impact the ability to make friends. Thankfully, there is an effective technique you can use with your child to help him/her learn these social skills and more. It is called Video Self-Modeling (VSM) and has almost 50 years of research behind it. What’s the best part? You can do it yourself with your smartphone or tablet.

This article is the first in a series that focuses on ways to use video self-modeling to help your child with different challenges common to children with autism. This current article provides examples of how to create VSM videos to help your child with social problems. The examples are general but can be easily tailored to meet your child’s specific needs.

What is video self-modeling?

VSM uses videos of your child to show him/her exactly what to do in certain situations. The videos are short—about 30 seconds to two minutes long—and they only show your child performing the skill correctly. All mistakes, errors, and old habits are removed from the video through careful recording or simple editing.

In the case of learning social skills, your child will learn to socialize by watching him/herself on video performing specific social skills correctly. Below are some examples of how to create a VSM video to improve social skills, but you can adapt these to match your child’s specific needs.

How do I use video self-modeling to teach social skills to my child?

Let’s use the three questions at the start of this article as examples of how to create VSM videos for your child focused on social skills.

VSM example for saying hello or waving “hi.”
If saying hello or greeting others with a gesture like waving is not part of your child’s skill set, you can teach him/her how to do it with a 30-second VSM video. Here’s how:

  1. Tell your child you’re going to make a short movie and that he/she will be the star.
  2. Explain the video will help him/her say hi to people or wave to people, which will help make friends.
  3. Using your smartphone or tablet, record your child waving or saying hi. He/she likely won’t do this on his/her own, so you will need to prompt by either showing how to do it (“Watch Mommy say, ‘Hi Patrick,’ and then you say, ‘Hi Patrick’” or “Watch Mommy wave – now you wave”) or by gently using your hand to help wave. Be careful to not show your hand on the video.
  4. Using the same smartphone or tablet, record other people saying or waving hi to your child.
  5. Edit the video to show your child waving or saying hi to several people. It can be the same footage of your child repeated over and over with different people placed in between each repeat. This can easily be accomplished using free editing software such as iMovie or Kinemaster.
  6. Insert an image of your child smiling or looking happy at the beginning and end of your VSM video.
  7. At the start of your video, say something like, “This is Mary saying hi to her friends when she sees them,” or, “This is Mary waving hi to her friends when she sees them.”
  8. During editing, remove any errors or images of you telling your child what to do so it only shows him/her saying/waving hi to people and others responding back.
  9. Show the final, 30-second video to your child every 1-2 days and praise him/her every time he/she greets another person in real life (“Great job waving hi to your friend Colin, Mary”).
  10. Once your child is consistently saying/waving hi to others, you can show the video 1-2 times per week for two weeks or just stop showing it altogether. There are no specific rules about when to stop showing the video, although your child will likely tire of watching the same video too often. If he/she becomes tired of watching the same video but still needs the instruction, create another video for the same behavior.

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VSM example for asking follow-up questions

If your child has a hard time asking follow-up questions in a conversation, create a VSM video showing him/her doing it with several other people. If you are already teaching your child how to do this, you can show exactly what you’re teaching in the video. For example, if you’re teaching your child to find something in common with what the other person said or to ask a W question such as “Where did you go next?” or “What made you go there?” or “Who went with you?” you can show your child using those skills in the video. Here’s how to make your video:

  1. Tell your child you’re going to make a short movie and he/she will be the star.
  2. Explain the video will help him/her have a conversation with people, which will help make friends.
  3. Develop a script that shows the type of responses you’d like your child using in conversations. For instance, the script might have Person 1 saying, “I went to Italy on vacation last week” and your child responding, “What made you choose Italy?” The script should have a few back and forth conversations. Let your child practice the script until he/she is comfortable with what to say. Be certain your child is facing the other speaker.
  4. Using your smartphone or tablet, record your child and someone else performing the script as naturally as possible. You may need a few takes to get it right. You may want to include back and forth conversations between your child and several different people for variety’s sake.
  5. Edit the video to show your child responding to several conversation starters without errors. This can easily be accomplished using free editing software such as iMovie or Kinemaster.
  6. Insert an image of your child smiling or looking happy at the beginning and end of your VSM video.
  7. At the start of your video, say something like, “This is Donna asking follow-up questions to people in a conversation.”
  8. Show the final video to your child every 1-2 days and praise him/her every time he/she responds to another person with a follow-up question in real life (“Great job asking Caroline what made her want to go to Italy, Donna”).
  9. Once the child is consistently asking appropriate follow-up questions in a conversation, you can show the video 1-2 times per week for two weeks or just stop showing it altogether. There are no hard and fast rules about when to stop showing the video. If your child tires of watching the same video but still needs the instruction, create another video with new footage for the same behavior.

VSM example for asking a child to play

Some children with autism want to play with other children but are not sure how to do that. You can create a video showing your child exactly what to say. Here’s how:

  1. Tell your child you’re going to make a short movie and that he/she will be the star.
  2. Explain that the video will help him/her ask other children to play, which will help with having fun with friends.
  3. You will need other children to participate in this video, so ask your child’s classmates, neighbors, siblings, or cousins to help you make the video.
  4. Put out toys, paper, and crayons, playdough, etc. Prompt your child to say, “Do you want to play _______ with me?” and prompt the other child to happily say, “Yes” or “Sure.” Using your smartphone or tablet, record them having that exchange and then record them playing with that toy. Repeat this several times with different toys or activities such as tag or hide and seek.
  5. Edit the video to show each exchange and subsequent play without errors. The final video will thus show your child asking the friend to play with playdough, the friend saying sure, and then them playing with it. The video should then show the same sequence related to playing tag, etc. This can easily be accomplished using free editing software such as iMovie or Kinemaster.
  6. Insert an image of your child smiling or looking happy at the beginning and end of your VSM video.
  7. At the start of your video, say something like, “This is Samson asking his friend Andrew to play.”
  8. Show the final video to your child every 1-2 days and praise him/her every time he/she asks another child to play (“Great job asking Andrew to play hopscotch with you, Samson”).
  9. Once the child is consistently asking friends to play with him/her, you can show the video 1-2 times per week for two weeks or just stop showing it altogether. There are no strict rules about when to stop showing the video. If your child no longer likes the first video but still needs the instruction, create another video with new footage with a different friend.

Remember, you can adapt these examples to meet the specific needs of your child. You can also recommend to your child’s school system that they use video self-modeling to teach your child in school. It is an effective tool for special education teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, and counselors.

The possible uses of VSM are nearly endless. The next article in this series will focus on using VSM to teach your child to eat a variety of foods. Until then, happy recording!

Melissa M. Root, Ph.D. is president and founder of Root Success SolutionsTM LLC and a certified school psychologist in Connecticut. Dr. Root is a co-author of Picture Perfect: Video Self-Modeling for Behavior Change, available from Pacific Northwest Publishing and through her website. Dr. Root offers a professional certificate in video self-modeling and trains families and professionals on how to use the technique. She presents internationally on video self-modeling as an effective tool for positive behavior change.

Website: www.rootsuccess.com
Email: root.success.solutions@gmail.com

This is article was featured in Issue 73 – Amazing Ways To Support Autism

Autism Parenting Articles