Description: Arranging a teaching situation in which the learner imitates a target behavior performed by a model for a learner to imitate. The model can be delivered by an actual person in front of the learner (in-vivo model), via filmed video or via audio that demonstrates the behavior to be imitated by the learner.

Research Summary: In-vivo modeling, video modeling, and audio modeling are well-established teaching methods for individuals with autism. (See also “Peer-mediated Social Skills Training” in this document and “Video Modeling” in the document titled “Descriptions of Autism Treatment” elsewhere on this webpage.) They have been shown to be effective in teaching social and play skills, self-help skills, communication skills, and skills used in perspective taking. Some research suggests that video modeling may lead to faster acquisition of tasks than in-vivo modeling.

Recommendations: Modeling is a useful intervention for teaching a variety of skills to individuals with autism who have well-developed imitation skills. Additional research is needed in the long term effects and application of these skills across a variety of settings and situations.

Selected References:

Systematic reviews of scientific studies:

Corbett, B. A., & Abdullah, M. (2005). Video modeling: Why does it work for children with autism. Journal of Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention, 2, 2-8.

Selected scientific studies:

Charlop-Christy, M. H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. A. (2000). A comparison of video modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30(6), 537-552.

Gena, A., Couloura, S., & Kymissis, E. (2005). Modifying the affective behavior of preschoolers with autism using in-vivo or video modeling and reinforcement contingencies. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(5), 545-556.

Stevenson, C. L., Krantz, P. J., & McClannahan, L.E. (2000). Social interaction skills for children with autism: A script-fading procedure for nonreaders. Behavioral Interventions, 15, 1-20.

For additional information:

Krantz, P. J., MacDuff, G. S., Wadstrom, O., & McClannahan, L. E. (1991). Using video with developmentally disabled learners.  In P. W. Dowrick (Ed.), A practical guide to using video in the behavioral sciences. NY:  John Wiley & Sons.

Striefel, S. (1999). How to teach modeling and imitation (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

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