I am becoming a big fan of video modeling for kids with behaviors. The idea is to show a child a video of himself or someone else successfully performing a behavior that he has difficulty doing. Over time, the child will start to mimic the behavior.
I see a boy who is afraid to ask his teacher for help. When he is given something that he can't figure out or feels is too difficult, he'll stare at it for a few minutes, become frustrated and then move into a meltdown. His mom told me about this while I was putting together some video footage for a lecture. I asked for and got permission to use the boy as a guinea pig for my video taping.
We set up a date, and he did a variety of videos with me: an obstacle course, IM, and headphones. Finally, it was time for the video modeling piece. I asked him if he would do some acting for me in a short film about asking for help. He said okay. This was the script: He was to sit at a table, open his book to a page and start working. Then he would decide that he needed help, raise his hand and say, "I need help". We practiced it one time and then as chance would have it, a real teacher, a friend of mine, happened to come into the room. I told the boy "What luck, we have a real teacher for our video, Ms. Smith can be the teacher while I shoot the video". To my surprise, he got up from the table and ran and hid under some pillows in the clinic. It took me a while to coax him out and then I had to promise him that Ms. Smith would hold the camera while I played the teacher. We shot the video a couple of times and got a good video.
Later, I showed it to him, then showed it to his parents. He was very proud of it.
Typically, you show a video to a child every morning for a week or so until they start mimicking their own behavior, but this one worked quickly. Without additional viewings, the boy self-advocated for himself in a difficult situation that happened soon after taping. His teacher moved desks around in the classroom and he was given a spot in which he couldn't see the chalkboard. He tried out his new desk, and instead of having a melt-down, he raised his hand and said, "I can't see the chalkboard". His seat was reassigned. Later when he got home from school, he advocated for himself with his mother, as well, something that he had not done before. A real success for him.
I certainly got lucky in my first attempt, but research shows that this is a good therapy for kids on the spectrum. I am hoping to explore video modeling in conjuction with self-management techniques in the near future to see if the combined methods help to address multiple (and more serious) behaviors.