Video Self Modeling: Teaching Special Kids Using Video!

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Bethany has loved watching herself, family members, and friends on video ever since I uploaded the very first video of our family’s daily adventures to our YouTube channel!

She’s gotten into the habit of choosing a  new favorite every week or so and watches it over and over and over again!

She never seems to tire of seeing herself, family and friends being happy and having fun together!

I was just thinking the other day, in a bittersweet kind of way, how really cool it is that she’ll be able to watch all of these videos long after my husband and I are gone!

She’ll be able to reminisce while fondly watching and remembering happy times with her family.

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This has also gotten me thinking about the type of content that I actually want her to see and remember us by.

I pride myself on keeping our videos authentic and real, so the world can see what life is really like for us and our particular brand of special needs family.

However, I do believe it’s more important for Bethany to have fond, loving, and happy memories of all of us to look back on.

Watching videos of herself having angry meltdowns over and over again, would most certainly do nothing to help her develop happy memories of all of us.

Honestly, the only thing that would accomplish would be to adversely impact her mental health and well being.

And,  it would most certainly not encourage her to learn safer and more appropriate ways of dealing with her anger and disappointments.

So this in turn got me to thinking that…

If I can catch and film Bethany engaging in proper behaviors in a variety of situations and circumstances going about her regular activities of daily living and she watches that footage over and over and over again, it can only have a positive impact on her life and reinforce in her mind, the better more appropriate ways of behaving!

If nothing else, she will at least have happy, positive video memories to look back on with love!!

Imagine my delighted excitement when I came across, Seeing is Believing: Video Self Modeling for People With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, at the library the other day!

This book discusses how to teach children with autism and other special needs new skills,  behaviors, and even academics using videos which star the children themselves performing the desired target skills and  behaviors.

This can all be accomplished by filming the kids role playing, imitating what you want them to say and do, and using some very creative editing!

In Buggey’s book you’ll find:

  • Research showing potentially promising and effective results using Video Self Modeling!
  • How to choose which skills and behaviors to target.
  • Helpful equipment tips, filming suggestions, and editing techniques.
  • How to collect and record data to measure results.
  • Do’s and Dont’s of putting together a successful Video Self Modeling program.
  • Real life case studies of children using VSM to successfully learn new skills

According to the Siskin Children’s Institute, where the author is a leading researcher, studies suggest that video self modeling can help with:

  • Acquiring language.
  • Learning routines and coping with transitions.
  • Eating issues and food aversions.
  • Substituting appropriate behaviors for aggression and meltdowns.
  • Developing appropriate social skills.

I was quite impressed to read about two case studies in particular of children successfully learning new skills using VSM!

  •  Target skill #1: To teach a boy to speak in more than one word sentences.

    The author filmed the child saying each word he knew, one word at a time, then edited them together to look like the boy was speaking a complete sentence.

    Result: The boy began speaking in sentences shortly after viewing the video of himself speaking in a complete sentence!

  • Target skill #2: To help a girl with limited food choices expand her choices and eat a more variety of foods.

    The author filmed a clip of the girl sitting at a table with various new foods on her plate, a clip of her holding a fork with the new foods on it, and finally, a clip of the girl eating the new foods! (However, it was not actually the girl eating the foods. The author created the image of the girl eating with a little creative filming and editing of a clip of only the mouth of another, substitute child actually eating the new foods!)

    Result: One month after viewing the video of herself eating a variety of new foods, the little girl was actually eating about 30 new foods!!

I believe that VSM shows promising potential for teaching Bethany safer and more appropriate ways to express her anger and disappointments and even better ways to conduct herself in certain situations!

I recently “caught” on video, Bethany being unusually happy and uncharacteristically cooperative while at the doctor’s office getting her blood drawn! She absolutely loves watching this particular video of herself over and over and over again!!

Let’s hope that my accidental attempt at video self modeling reaps some positive results!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if turns out that she is happy and cooperative for every doctor visit from now on, just from watching that one video over and over and over again?

I was lucky to “catch” Bethany cooperating beautifully for her blood test the other day! Now we can use the footage to teach and reinforce the proper way to behave while getting her blood drawn!!

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If you are interested in pursuing your own Video Self Modeling adventure, I’d like to offer you a few tips to help you achieve the best possible results for your efforts:

  • Choose achievable target behaviors and skills. Do not pick skills and behaviors that are too advanced or unrealistic for the child.
  • Only show positive behaviors.
  • Only show the child being successful.
  • Make filming the video a fun experience for the child.
  • Keep the video under five minutes long.
  • Allow the child to view the video as often he or she desires within reason.
  • Do not comment on or discuss the video with the child.
  • Do not force the child to watch the video.
  • Do not expect a miracle.

*Please note: A version of this post was first published on 7/14/15
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We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog by email and to our daily You Tube vlogs below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

 *This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at not extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

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8 Replies to “Video Self Modeling: Teaching Special Kids Using Video!

    1. Yes! I even look at our videos like the wikki stix one, see my mistakes and try to improve my own performance!! I guess we can all learn from watching ourselves!!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Stephanie. You know I really must admit that I do think it’s helping boost Bethany’s mood a little! Who wouldn’t get happier seeing her happy?!

  1. What a brilliant idea. I particularly like the tricks used to show behaviour that the child wouldn’t ordinarily do. Such a simple idea, but ingenious.

    1. Call me crazy, but I honestly do think seeing herself happier really is making her a bit happier!! You just can’t help bit get a smile on your face watching Bethany laughing! Thanks for stopping by, Alison!

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