Autism – Teaching Daily Living Skills

man cleaning floor with vacuum cleaner

For some people on the spectrum, daily living skills may be more difficult to learn than for normally developing individuals their age. To teach a skill that has not yet developed, caregivers should be able to help the individual break the skill down into multiple steps. By breaking the task down into each step, caregivers can teach the skill in phases so the individual can become increasingly independent. Caregivers can learn about task analysis implementation to improve their teaching skills. Task analysis includes the following six steps:

  1. Task identification
  2. Required prerequisite skills and materials needed
  3. Breaking the task into steps
  4. Confirming that the task is completely analysed
  5. Determining how the skill will be taught
  6. Teaching the skills and monitoring progress 

So how do we teach these skills…….

My suggestion is video modelling

Most of us carry a mobile phone with us throughout the day, and people on the spectrum often have an affinity with technology. Besides, video modelling is well supported by the academic literature as an evidence-based intervention for teaching new skills to those on the Autism Spectrum. A brief search of the ProQuest Medline database yielded 1809 results for the search term “video modelling and video prompting autism”. The first 20 results included video modelling interventions for a wide variety of behaviours including:

  • General Task Completion
  • Functional Skills
  • Role Playing Skills
  • Social Language Skills
  • Vocational Skills
  • Imitation
  • Finding a Word in the Dictionary
  • Safe Pedestrian Skills
  • Transitional Skills
  • Active Video Game Skills
  • Play
  • Toilet Training

The following table presents four types of video modelling appropriate for learning different skills in different settings:

Basic Video ModellingOther adults, children, or animations demonstrate the behaviour or skill
Video Self-ModellingThe individual models the behaviour while being guided and recorded by a trainer
Point of View Video ModellingThe video is recorded in first person view, so that the individual can learn what the behaviour looks like (particularly useful for seeing hand movements)
Video-PromptingDirections are given by a trainer in a stepwise fashion
Types of Video Modelling

There are four main steps to implementing video modelling interventions to develop new skills. The first is to plan the intervention, next the video is made, followed by implementing the video with the person with ASD, and then follow-up.

Step 1.Select a target behaviour, choose the equipment, break down the target behaviour by writing a task analysis.
Step 2.Decide on the type of video modelling, consider other factors (i.e. location), and then create the video.
Step 3.Decide on the equipment used to show the video, prepare (i.e. ensure the devices are charged), show the video on a regular schedule.
Step 4.Monitor the intervention, troubleshoot and resolve barriers to learning, fade the video, decide whether to expand the video to a related skill or move to a new one.
Video Modelling Process

Effective implementation has been demonstrated through a single case study design by Shrestha, Anderson, and Moore (2013), ‘Using Point-Of-View Modelling and Forward Chaining to Teach a Functional Self-Help Skill to a Child with Autism’ in ‘The Journal of Behavioural Education’ as demonstrated by the following direct quote.

“Three videos were produced, one for each phase, with John’s mother as the model. As the videos were intended to represent the participant’s point-of-view, the camera was held over the model’s shoulders showing two hands completing the tasks, with a voiceover explaining the steps. The first video, which began with a voiceover providing an initial prompt to start the task, saying, ‘‘I’m hungry! Let’s get some Weetbix without any help!’’ included a visual representation of Steps 1–4, and was 2 min 6 s in duration. The second video included Steps 1–10 and was 3 min 28 s long. The final video was 3 min and 45 s and included Steps 1–13. All three videos included verbal praise, ‘‘Great job!’’, at the end.

1) Get a bowl from the drawer

2) Get a spoon from the drawer

3) Get Weetbix from the cupboard

4) Get soy milk from the fridge

5) Put two Weetbix in the bowl

6) Open the lid of the milk bottle

7) Pour some milk in the bowl just enough so the Weetbix can still be seen

8) Close the lid of the milk bottle

9) Break the Weetbix up

10) Eat

11) Take the bowl over to the sink

12) Put the Weetbix back in the cupboard

13) Put the milk back in the fridge”

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