Video Learning Helps Autism Kids Learn Social Skills
October 17, 2013

Video Teaching May Help Autistic Kids Hone Social Skills

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Researchers have developed a video-based teaching technique that could help improve important social skills in teens who have autism. Scientists writing in the journal Exceptional Children say they have developed a group video teaching technique to improve social skills among individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This video method could be adapted by schools with limited resources to help students with the disorder.

“Teaching social skills to adolescents with ASD has to be effective and practical,” says Joshua Plavnick, assistant professor of special education at Michigan State University. “Using video-based group instruction regularly could promote far-reaching gains for students with ASD across many social behaviors.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the diagnosis rate for ASD for 14- to 17-year-olds has more than doubled in the past five years. Previous studies have shown many people with ASD are more likely to pay attention when an innovative technology delivers information.

Researchers recruited 13- to 17-year-old students with ASD and used laptops or iPads to offer group video instructions on social behaviors, such as inviting a peer to join an activity. One facilitator showed four students video footage of people helping one another clean up a mess, and then they gave them opportunities to practice the skills themselves.

The team said students demonstrated a rapid increase in the level of complex social behaviors every time video-based group instructions were used. Particularly encouraging was how the students sustained those social behaviors at high levels even when the videos were used less often.

Parents of children involved in the study were asked to fill out anonymous surveys. The questionnaires showed that the parents had high levels of satisfaction regarding how the video helped their children. One couple reported their child started asking family members to play games together, which is a social skill the teen had never before exhibited at home.

Some schools may not have appropriate staff resources to provide one-on-one help for students with autism. This video could be an effective tool for these under-staffed schools.

“Video-based group instruction is important, given the often limited resources in schools that also face increasing numbers of students being diagnosed with ASD,” said Plavnick, who also has begun implementing the strategy as part of a daily high school-based program.