Much of the early childhood school day involves play or peer interactions. We’ve talked before about peer-mediated interventions for preschoolers with autism (e.g., here, here, and here). It’s no surprise to SLPs that there’s also a growing evidence base for using video modeling with this population. Since preschoolers with autism may need structured opportunities to learn and practice social skills, you could use video modeling or you could include a typically developing peer in intervention, or… you could use both (aka: joint video modeling)!
Including a peer is what makes joint video modeling different. Since we’re talking about preschoolers here, the authors needed to do some structured training with those peers. First, the preschool director and head teacher selected “play partners”—peers with age appropriate social skills and good interactions with classmates with autism. The authors showed the play partner a picture of the other child, explained the difficulties the child had during play, and read a book about understanding differences. Then, through role play and video modeling, the play partners learned how to initiate during play.
Now on to the joint video modeling intervention: The four-year-old dyads jointly (sitting next to each other listening via split headphones) watched a 30-second video model twice on an iPad. Cool note about the video models: Although they showed adults’ hands manipulating toys, they were based on typically developing preschoolers’ play with those same toys. So if you need some inspiration, you may need to look no further than peers in the classroom!
After intervention, the children with autism used more scripted verbalizations (from the videos) and unscripted verbalizations (even better!) during pretend play—and generalized the skills with other peers even after the videos were taken away. We still need more information on how the skills were maintained, and to help explain the individual differences within the participants’ performance, but joint video modeling is definitely showing promise.
Dueñas, A. D., Plavnick, J. B., & Bak, M. Y. S. (2018). Effects of Joint Video Modeling on Unscripted Play Behavior of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi:10.1007/s10803-018-3719-2