ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006: 1:30 PM-2:45 PM
Providence Ballroom I
#1726- Using video and multi-media technology to teach children with autism
In this age of increased multi-media technology, many children with autism are interested in (and learning from) videos, DVDs, and computers. This presentation will explore the benefits and potential challenges to teaching appropriate skills to children with autism via video and multi-media technology. Further, presenter will provide step-by-step strategies for developing and using video social stories and other multi-media technology for children with autism.

Presenter:E. Amanda Boutot, Ph.D., BCBA, DePaul Unversity, Assistant Professor - Dr. Boutot received her doctorate in special education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999. She has worked with persons with autism and their families for nearly two decades. She served three years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as the coordinator of the graduate program in mental retardation and developed the graduate program in autism. Currently, she is an assistant professor at DePaul University in Chicago. She researches play and language development in autism as well as family issues. Dr. Boutot has presented nationally and internationally and has authored numerous publications in the field.


According to Crozier and Tincani (2005), Social Storiesª are beneficial for children with autism for several reasons. First, because children with autism are often very visual learners, the social story capitalizes on this strength. Second, they can be used easily and unobtrusively in an educational environment. Third, stories are concrete and their content can be rehearsed and repeated until mastery has been achieved. Finally, professionals and families report social stories are effective and easy to use. While this is true, there are still many (particularly young) children with autism who do not respond as well to print or picture books as they do to technology, for example, television videos. This can be seen in the ability of young children with autism to repeat phrases from their favorite shows, even "acting out" entire scenes. Though often echolalic in nature, at times these repetitions take the form of attempts at communication, as reported by their parents and teachers. One means of teaching children with autism is to place a social story on video. Taking advantage of the innate fascination with technology and capitalizing on the ability of children with autism to recall details seen and heard on video is the goal of a video social story. This presentation will explore the benefits and potential challenges to teaching appropriate skills to children with autism via video and multi-media technology and will provide step-by-step strategies for developing and using video social stories and other multi-media technology. Samples will be shown and discussed. Benefits of Video Social Stories and Other Multi-Media Approaches:

  1. Capitalizes on interests of the child
  2. Can be useful for those with shorter attention spans
  3. Can be home-made and tailored to the individual child's needs
  4. Commercial videos are available to eliminate the need to filming and editing
  5. Scripts from the videos can be used in the natural environment whenever the skills are necessary
Potential Challenges to Teaching via Multi-Media and Video Technology and Ways to Overcome them:
  1. The child may not be interested in the "actors" on video
    1. Identify and use videos that include elements that interest your child. For example, some videos use child actors, and these may be more interesting than cartoons for some children
  2. The child may lose interest in a lengthy video
    1. Show only portions of the video at a sitting
  3. The child may be distracted by portions of a video
    1. Select videos that contain limited distracting stimuli, like flashy costumes, backgrounds, or music
  4. The child may not spontaneously recall essential components from the video when needed
    1. Create a script, or pictoral social story from the video to be carried with the child when away from the video
    2. Prompt or cue the child to use the script or remind of the skill learned on the video
Strategies for Developing Videos and Multi-Media Technology:
  1. Select skills that can be taught via technology (note: they must be able to be shown or displayed visually)
  2. Select a medium that your child prefers (CD, DVD, Video)
  3. If developing your own technology:
    1. Determine who will perform any skills that will be modeled
    2. Obtain necessary materials, including technology for recording or shooting
    3. Edit as needed
  4. If choosing commercially available technology:
    1. Select videos, DVDs, or CDs that include the skills that you wish to teach
    2. Select videos, DVDs, or CDs that are specific for children with autism whenever possible
    3. Choose those that are most suited to your child's learning style and interest
Strategies for Teaching via Videos and Multi-Media Technology:
  1. View the video/DVD/CD first, identifying specific skills you wish to highlight
  2. Identify vocabulary necessary to skill development
  3. Keep terms short and to the point in order to facilitate the development of scripts
  4. Develop scripts, social stories, etc. for use when away from the technology in order to facilitate skill generalization
  5. Sit down with your child and view the video, etc., pointing out key skills and emphasizing key terms (e.g., those from the script)
  6. Rehearse with your child away from the technology
  7. Practice the scripts in the natural setting
  8. Prompt your child to use the script or remind him/her about the video when in a natural setting requiring the use of a skill learned on the video
  9. Always provide plenty of positive reinforcement for displaying skills learned from the video as well as the use of the script
Following this presentation, participants will be able to:
    • Discuss the advantages of the use of multi-media and video technology for teaching children with autism
    • Identify skills that can be taught via multi-media and video technology
    • Describe challenges to creating and teaching via technology and how to overcome each
    • Discuss details of the types of video or multi-media technology that their child or those with whom they work might best benefit
    • Describe how to create video Social Storiesª or multi-media CDs for teaching children with autism
    • List the steps in teaching via videos/DVDs or CDs
This session will be appropriate for parents and professionals working with children with autism of various ages. No prior knowledge of technology is required to understand and participate fully in this session. All examples will be clearly explained as presented to the audience. Audience participation in the form of questions and ideas will be welcomed. The participants will be encouraged to leave the session with a plan for the use of these types of technology in the instruction of the children with autism with whom they work.

See more of The ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)