The effects of teacher-implemented video-enhanced activity schedules on the academic skills and collateral behaviors of students with autism
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Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) represent a growing proportion of students receiving special education services. Their unique challenges make acquisition and generalization of academic skills difficult, necessitating effective interventions. Unfortunately, research targeting the academic skills of students with ASD is relatively rare and most interventions have been implemented by researchers in a one-to-one context. Therefore, interventions that are feasible for teachers to implement in a classroom setting are needed. One potentially effective option for teaching academic skills is the use of portable touch-screen devices. Teachers report using these devices frequently in their classrooms and many individuals with ASD prefer technology-based instruction. Two evidence-based approaches that are well-suited for use with portable electronic devices are visual activity schedules (VAS) and video modeling (VM). Evidence suggests that combining these two approaches, so that the user self-prompts by navigating through the images and activating the embedded video models, may decrease reliance on adult-delivered prompts. However, only two previous studies have investigated the use of VAS with embedded VM to teach academic skills to individuals with ASD and neither has described a process for training classroom teachers to use the intervention. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the process for training a classroom teacher to implement a VAS-VM intervention and to evaluate its effects on the academic skills of students with ASD. A multiple baseline design across students was used to determine the effectiveness of the intervention and to measure untargeted changes in students’ stereotypy or other challenging behaviors. Additionally, the researcher conducted probes for generalization across untargeted academic problems and collected maintenance data after the intervention was removed. Behavioral skills training was effective in training the classroom teacher to implement the intervention with high fidelity. All students demonstrated an immediate improvement in academic performance during intervention, although their performances after intervention was removed were mixed. Additionally, students engaged in lower levels of stereotypy or other challenging behaviors during the VAS-VM intervention. Generalization and maintenance of academic skills was observed.