Problem Solving

Teaching Problem Solving Skills to Teenagers


In 2016, I presented at an ABAI symposium in Chicago.  I was recently going through my old research, and came across this study I completed: "Teaching Problem Solving Skills to Teenagers Diagnosed with Autism," and I thought it would be helpful to share the results, so as to hopefully help parents and educators when targeting skills to teach teenagers diagnosed with developmental disabilities.

"Teaching Problem Solving Skills to Teenagers Diagnosed with Autism"

For many teenagers diagnosed with autism, problem solving can be a complex skill to teach.  Research indicates that using video modeling can be successful when teaching children with autism skills such as reciprocal conversation and play, but few studies address video modeling to teach problem solving skills (Charlop-Christie & Milstein (1989) ; Charlop, etc. al. (2000)).  Bellini and Akullian (2007) completed meta-analysis of video modeling studies, finding many studies supported video modeling.

During the intervention phases, video modeling was introduced for each step of a problem solving task analysis in using the phone to call a parent for help, then faded as participants demonstrated the skill independently. We then focused on generalization of skills from direct instruction, in contrived scenarios with parent participation, throughout the participants’ day where they would need to call their parent for help.  

For all participants, maintenance probes were completed one year after the initial training.  Following intervention, all three participants completed 100% of the problem solving task analysis independently.  One year later, two out of three participants maintained the skill at 100% of the task analysis. 




For additional strategies on teaching transition skills to students, please see our eWorkbook: Transition to Adulthood Series: Supports and Services!



•Charlop, M. H., & Milstein, J. P. (1989). Teaching autistic children conversational speech using video modeling. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 22, 275–285

•Charlop, M.H., Le, L., & Freeman, K. (2000). A comparison of video modeling with in vivo modeling for teaching children with autism.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 30(6), 537-552

•Bellini, S., & Akullian, J (2007). A meta-analysis of video modeling and video self-modeling interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders . Exceptional Children, 73, 261-284

•Collins, S., Higbee, T., & Salzberg, C. (2009). The effects of video modeling on staff implementation of a problem solving intervention with adults with developmental disabilities.  Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 42(2), 849-854


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