The Benefits of Video-Based Modeling for Applied Behavioral Analysis

New ways of achieving better treatment progress and outcomes through applied behavior analysis (ABA) dominate news outlets across the internet. However, one of the most common methods of disseminating information, video streaming, could be the solution to many of the challenges faced in ABA. Video-based modeling has become a focal point of studies to determine its effectiveness in teaching complex social contexts. Specifically, it has been recognized for its usefulness in teaching facial expressions, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Before implementing it in your therapy sessions, you need to think about its meaning, benefits in ABA training and therapy sessions, what evidence supports its use and how it may be applied in future scenarios.

What Is Video-Based Modeling?

Video-based modeling (VBM), otherwise known as video-based intervention (VBI), describes the use of video to teach social, communication, behavior, play, functional and self-help skills to students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), explains Intervention in School and Clinic. Essentially, VBI allows therapists to select or customize learning scenarios for teaching specific skills to people with autism, and it is also highly adaptable to different environments.

The Adaptability of VBM Benefits ABA

Take a moment to think about all of the ways to create and share videos online. Potential options for creation include Facebook Live, YouTube, SnapChat and more. Each of these venues represents an opportunity to spread the use of VBM to provide greater benefits of ABA to more people, especially younger children. However, the most striking benefits include the following:

  • Immediate interventions outside of a typical ABA session. This situation may occur when a parent or family member needs to conduct an intervention before the next scheduled session with a behavioral therapist, such as when traveling.
  • Access to VBM is available via mobile devices. Mobile devices enable the use of VBM from virtually any location. This can be a critical component of early intervention and can encourage appropriate behaviors for children in isolated areas. In addition, it can be adapted regardless of what causes this isolation, such as weather or political turmoil. Essentially, mobile technology can provide an unparalleled way of reaching more children with autism before significant development delays occur.
  • Changes to video to reflect how inappropriate actions can result in long-term consequences. All traditional ABA sessions have limitations. Behavioral therapists can only demonstrate how an action or inaction may result in immediate reinforcement. For example, completing schoolwork may result in attention. However, therapists cannot demonstrate long-term effects of inappropriate behaviors, but VBM makes it possible.

What Evidence Supports Video-Based Modeling?

Based on a general Google search, finding evidence to support VBM can seem impossible. This is compounded when filtering out resources that manipulate information for personal gain. In other words, the evidence behind VBM may not necessarily be written in a journal for those with autism or an ABA manual. In fact, it can be found when looking into the modern tools used to prepare a child or family member for surgery. Preparation in advance of an event has been repeatedly linked to a better understanding of and better responses to different situations since 1975, reports Medscape. In fact, more than 100 studies have reached similar conclusions. In the context of a surgical procedure, a child and his family members may be shown how a surgery resembles going to sleep in video. Parents may be present during the video to provide emotional support. Meanwhile, behavioral therapists may help with coping skills instruction, such as how to ask for help or describe pain after surgery. Each of these components must work together in order to provide the best outcome possible. When applied to the development and reinforcement of appropriate skills, VBM can be leveraged in conjunction with other intervention methods to encourage positive behaviors.

How Can Video-Based Modeling Be Applied in the Future?

Imagine a child playing a video game at home. He must learn to react to different situations, develop problem-solving skills and interact with others. Now, if this situation is applied to a multiplayer game, the interactions become more complex. The idea of using a gaming platform to conduct interventions for those with autism may seem futuristic, but it is already being studied. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the intensive interventions necessary for modeling appropriate behaviors in children with autism can be extravagant, creating a strain on resources and difficulty achieving optimal results. In the study, researchers found that the use of gaming platforms can provide a suitable means of assessing current development and conducting interventions as well. Furthermore, the gaming system’s concepts were easily adapted for home or clinical environments. In other words, the gaming system could be used to provide self-management of ABA interventions in the future. For example, Google Now can recognize voice commands, but it cannot automatically respond when a person is speaking or behaving without saying “Ok Google.” In other words, the app is not always listening to the conversation. But, it does open the possibility of modifying voice recognition systems in the future to recognize key phrases or physical actions that occur during a crisis or when intervention is necessary. Essentially, Google Now could be used to monitor and complete behavioral interventions without ever notifying a therapist or other family member. Similarly, the system could be linked to the medical records of a person’s behavioral therapist, providing detailed, accurate information about the person’s actions and the use of ABA interventions between in-person therapy sessions.

Final Thoughts

Opportunities for the expansion of resources do not come often, and the slowly rising prevalence of ASDs suggests that constraints on ABA resources will worsen. This could leave thousands of children, adolescents and young adults at the mercy of developmental delays or social immaturity. However, VBM indicates the solution may be literally in the palm of your hand. Even if a set of VBM recordings are unavailable to you, consider using mobile technology to create, share and apply video in improving outcomes for individuals with autism. Moreover, VBM can be applied to enhance ABA training with peers and teach parents how to respond during a crisis. The opportunities are endless, and you can introduce those you serve to the excitement of using video to achieve mutually beneficial results.

Jason Vanover

Working in health care since 2005, Jason's body of experience encompasses dozens of care settings, including Senior care, psychiatric facilities, nonprofit health service centers, group homes for those with developmental disabilities and beyond. Jason understands the need to tailor his skills to each setting to encourage the best treatment outcomes and promote an inclusive, healing environment.

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