Objectives: This pilot study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of using commercially produced videos to teach receptive identification of body parts to a group of young children with autism. Furthermore, the study investigated if the use of screen media was more or less effective in teaching the target goals than empirically validated DTT strategies.
Methods: Study participants included three boys (ages 2-, 3-, and 4-years-old) diagnosed with autistic disorder enrolled in an early intensive behavioral intervention classroom affiliated with a children’s hospital. The target behavior was receptive identification of body parts using Baby Einstein’s Baby Da Vinci from Head to Toe video. Six targets of receptively identifying body parts were chosen for the pilot and divided equally between video modeling teaching and DTT. Multiple baseline probes were conducted to ascertain that the children were not able to already identify the target body parts, that they did not learn them by multiple presentations of baseline probes and that they did not learn them simply by viewing the commercially produced video. Video segments were played for students in a group setting where the children were systematically oriented to the specific body part during the viewing segment. The discrete trial teaching comparison was conducted in a structured, individual setting within the classroom. Pre- and post-teaching probes were conducted on all targets each session to determine acquisition, maintenance and generalization.
Results: Preliminary results indicate that targets were not learned in baseline probes where the children were simply viewing the video and then asked to identify the target. Acquisition rates for targets varied per child from equal learning times using video modeling and DTT to demonstrated quicker acquisition time for targets using DTT methodology.
Conclusions: Commensurate with the established literature regarding typically developing toddlers, preliminary results suggest that merely viewing commercially produced videos is not likely to lead to skill acquisition in young children with autism. Applying structured teaching strategies to video viewing leads to skill acquisition, however, this teaching using video modeling does not appear to be any more effective or efficient than traditional discrete trial teaching.