Challenges of Skill Development

Teaching children with autism or a developmental delay is difficult and overwhelming. So many of the skills we use on a daily basis we take for granted. Children with autism do not acquire skills naturally: They need to be taught the skills.

Teaching in Isolation or Context of Real Life?

How can we possibly teach all of these skills? It is virtually impossible to teach every skill in isolation. In the context of everyday life, we do not perform skills in isolation. We combine many different skills in almost everything we do. As such, it is most realistic and efficient to teach the same way.

The following example lists several of the skills that must be executed at a doctor visit.  In this example, you can see the multitude of skills that are required to complete this event.

EXAMPLE: Going to the doctor. Parents of children with autism know exactly how dreadful a visit to the doctor can be!

  • Get in the car, walk in, go to the office, etc... (motor skills).
  • Cooperate with people, attend (social skill).
  • Verbally Interact with the doctor or nurse (language and communication).
  • Stick our your tongue, breath deeply (motor).
  • Communicate why you are at the doctor and what is wrong (language and social).
  • Follow directions (language, social and motor).

As you can see, a visit to the doctor isn’t a simple task that only requires one skill. It requires the execution of many different types of skills.

While all of these skills can be taught separately in isolation, it is easier to teach these skills within a meaningful context. Skills taught in isolation often have no meaning behind them. There is no real reason or motivation to complete the skill other than to please the teacher and get a reward. Often, this is simply not motivating enough.

With this in mind, it is common sense that skills be taught within the context of  real life situations.

Multiple Skills are Taught Simultaneously in Real Life.

Watch Me Learn videos allow you to teach multiple types of skills at once, as the skills are demonstrated within a real life situation. Teaching with video modeling allows for faster acquisition of skills and generalization of the skills because there is a meaning behind the action.

Basic Example: Teaching a child to touch their nose.

Taught in isolation, a child is requested to touch his nose and is rewarded for the proper response or is not rewarded for the improper response. There is no meaning behind this request.

Taught within a real life situation, such as a game of Simon Says, there is a reason to touch your nose and response properly to the request. The request is part of the game, the other children are playing and it is fun to play.

Teaching within this real life situation has provided a meaning to the request and also motivation to respond properly.

While it would be great to have a team of kids in the backyard willing to model for you everyday, it is unrealistic. This is where video modeling can meet the needs of the learner.

Effective Teaching Incorporates Video Modeling.

Utilizing VM with children with autism is very effective in teaching the following skills:

  • Social Skills
  • Language and communication skills
  • Play skills
  • Functional skills and daily living skills
  • Academic skills
  • Motor skills

Research has documented that video modeling is a well validated intervention for teaching. In addition, VM can be combined with other teaching methods, creating a multi-sensory learning experience. This experience provides maximum potential for learning.

Finally..... practice makes perfect.

For a skill to be mastered, one must be able to use that skill in various settings with different people and circumstances.

Once a skill is learned, it must be practiced.  Practice, practice, practice......

Now that a skill is learned, it is time to have fun with it and start using it. Watch Me Learn provides fun scenarios that can be reenacted for practice. Have fun learning!

Sometimes a refresher course is needed. One more reason to utilize video modeling as it can always be watched again!

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