iMsocialTM a Research Based Program

The iModeling project (now iMsocial) has been independently evaluated by the Disabilities Research Unit from the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide. They have evaluated the program from early 2009 to mid 2014. Below you will find a summary of the findings of the research into the iModeling project.

If you are interested in the longer version please click on the link: Research Report iMsocial

Improving Social Skills using a Group-Based Approach to Video Modeling

In recent decades video modeling has been widely used as an intervention for children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. Video modeling has been shown to be effective for teaching a variety of skills including social and communication skills, daily living skills, play skills, academic and task oriented behaviours of children with ASD, and has been shown to be an effective method for reducing problem behaviours.

To date though, video modeling has not commonly been combined with a group based program, although research has shown group based programs are also an effective way of teaching social skills to children with ASD. 

The iModelingTM App developed by Autism SA provides a program that enables parents to use video modeling at home and in other environments to support their child with learning new skills and behaviours. The iModelingTM Project has incorporated this App into a social skills program that involves metropolitan participants who have used the iModelingTM App at home but have also attended a weekly social development group while other regional/rural participants have undertaken an Outreach program that involves the parents delivering the social skills instruction at home using the iModelingTM App.

Key Features of the Video Modeling Techniques

The evaluation findings suggest that the iModeling Project involving the use of the iModelingTM App has produced positive outcomes for the majority of participants. Video modeling techniques as used in the iModeling program incorporate key features that make it a successful learning tool for children with ASD. In particular, current research and parent feedback have indicated that:

  • The video modeling captured the attention of children with ASD through the presentation of visual material on a screen that focused the child’s attention and reduced distractions.
  • The video modeling helped with the retention of learning as the child could watch the modelled behaviours as often as needed.
  • The video modeling approach used in the iModeling program provided the child with opportunities to observe and then practice the modelled behaviours in a safe and supportive environment, with the iModeling App incorporating incentives to reward the child for repeated viewing of the material.
  • The use of the video modeling allowed the children to view themselves successfully performing skills that were beyond their typical functioning level, which served to encourage self-efficacy by providing visual evidence of their capacity to be able to perform the skills.
  • The use of the iPad as a learning tool was motivating for the children as they enjoyed using the iPad and as it was something that their typically developing peers also used.

Video Modeling and iModelingTM App

  • 85% of parents considered the video modeling as a learning tool had contributed to the changes in their child’s skills and behaviours. The other important program factor reported by parents was the participation in the social group situation.
  • The majority of parents reported they used the iModelingTM App with their child and 88% reported that they intended to continue using the iModelingTM App after the program concluded. The main reason provided by parents who reported that they were not likely to use the iModelingTM App was that they did not own an iPad.

Program Helpfulness for the Child

  • 97% of parents reported that the iModeling program had been helpful at improving the social skills of their child with ASD.
  • 82% of parents reported that the iModeling program had been helpful at improving the self-protective behaviours of their child with ASD (e.g., peer pressure, on-line safety, safety with others)
  • 82% of parents reported that the iModeling program had been helpful at reducing the problem social behaviours of their child with ASD.

Benefits beyond the Program

  • Most parents (70%) reported that their child’s teacher had commented on improvements in their child’s skills and/or behaviour at school.
  • The majority of parents (95%) reported that they had observed their child using the skills learnt in the iModeling program in other settings or with other people.
  • Feedback following the program from the parents and children indicated that the benefits of the iModeling program for the child extended beyond the learning of new skills and included opportunities to make friends; the children improved their understanding of ASD and felt less isolated as they realised there were others in similar situations; it helped improve self-confidence and self-esteem; and the children reported that it was fun to do.

Benefits for the Parents

  • Parents also reported the iModeling Project led to indirect benefits for themselves and other family members including opportunities to meet and share information with others in similar situations; family members had a better understanding of ASD and the associated behaviours and ways for supporting the child to learn new skills; and the enjoyment of seeing their child successfully learn new skills and having fun.