Video Modeling for Teaching Imitation to Young Children with Autism: A Treatment Comparison and Analysis of Potential Predictors of Success

Logan McDowell, Florida International University


Imitation is a prerequisite for the development of several important abilities. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit a distinct deficit in imitation. There has been a considerable amount of research into the most effective ways to teach this crucial skill. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to many prevalent teaching strategies including difficulty with implementation and lack of generalization. The present study sought to determine whether video modeling (VM) might function as a successful alternative for teaching imitation to young children with ASD. The literature on VM has demonstrated that it can be a highly effective technique for teaching a variety of skills to individuals with ASD. Additionally, VM has been identified as easy to implement and has lead to improved generalization when compared to other treatments. However, there are still a number of questions about when, and for whom, VM is most effective. The current study begins to answer some of these questions by analyzing a treatment comparison between VM and live modeling (LM). Eight children were taught to imitate two equivalent behaviors each, one using VM and the other using LM. The trials to criterion required to learn the behaviors were then compared. Results indicated that there was a significant difference between the two treatment types, and that six of the participants were more successful with VM. Neither social skills nor technological literacy were significant predictors of treatment success. However, pre-treatment imitative abilities were shown to significantly predict success. Those children with the fewest imitative abilities were shown to be more successful with the VM technique, while those children with more imitative abilities were more successful with LM. An additional analysis was conducted to evaluate the predictive relationship between social skills and imitation. Results indicated that social skills significantly predict imitative abilities. These results could have widespread implications for imitation training, as they verify the relationship between social skills and imitation, demonstrate that VM can be an effective treatment for teaching young children with ASD to imitate, and further indicate that a pre-treatment imitation assessment may help to identify the most effective and efficient treatment for each child.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

McDowell, Logan, "Video Modeling for Teaching Imitation to Young Children with Autism: A Treatment Comparison and Analysis of Potential Predictors of Success" (2015). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10002875.