1.What sort of behaviour is VSM good for?
VSM has successfully been used to teach the following skills:
social skills such as sharing, how to play with other children, waiting for a turn, staying with the group, walking with an adult.
play skills such as how to use toys, e.g. trains, dolls and tea sets.
self-care skills such toileting, grooming, hand washing, face washing, shaving, teeth brushing.
daily living skills such as dressing, using cutlery, sitting at the table.
communication skills such as speech, using communication devices, learning sign language.
self-regulation skills such as self-calming, waiting, asking for a break, asking for help, coping with separation and change.
physical skills such as climbing stairs, riding a bike, using scissors, walking with a support frame, swimming, playing with balls, dancing.
The possibilities are endless. VSM could also be used with elite athletes, stroke victims, rehabilitation, mental health and aged care, to name a few. Basically, any individual or group that could benefit from seeing an expected behaviour, learn a new skill, or improve on a skill. Elite athletes such as divers, swimmers and basketball players have all reaped the benefits of VSM in their performance.
2. What sort of people does VSM have success with?
VSM has been highly successful with people of various ages and abilities. It has been used for very young children aged 3, adults, elderly people and stroke victims.
VSM is particularly suitable for people with Autism and intellectual or developmental disabilities. Extensive research has been done on Autism and VSM in the USA.
VSM has successfully been used with students with Down's syndrome, Autism, Angelmans Syndrome, developmental delays, Cerebral Palsy and intellectual disabilities.
As long as a person can recognize themselves in a mirror it is worth trying VSM with them.
Interestingly, even if the person in the video knows it is a VSM and not an actual event, the changes still happen, the brain still recognizes it and accommodates new learning.
3. How long does a VSM take to work?
Research and experience have shown that some change in behaviour should be noticeable within the first 3 views of a VSM. That's less than 6 minutes of intervention time. The real skill in making a successful VSM is in knowing what video to make and pitching it correctly for the person it is made for. If no change is noticeable after a week of viewing, the VSM itself needs to be reviewed as it may be unsuitable, pitched too high, or just not simple and clear enough for the learner.
4. What should a VSM be about?
A VSM is primarily helpful for teaching a new skill, or replacing a challenging behaviour. The success of the VSM depends on the suitability of what it will be about. A VSM can ONLY show positive behaviours. If you want to teach a student to NOT do something, the VSM needs to be about what it is you DO WANT them to do. This is called the replacement behaviour. For example, if a child is screaming in frustration, a VSM may be about how the child can ask for help and take a break.
5. How long should a VSM be?
A VSM should be no longer than 2 minutes long. Some of the most successful VSM's have been less than 1 minute long.
6. How often should the VSM be watched?
A VSM should be watched one to two times a day for a couple of weeks. If the video is requested there is no harm in watching it more. Each view further reinforces the learning.
7. What equipment do I need to make a VSM?
It is not necessary to purchase expensive video equipment to make a VSM. It can be done very simply on an iPad, iPhone or smartphone. You will need an editing App such as i-movie. The beauty of VSM is that it is simple to make and we all have the equipment needed in our pockets or handbags.