Imitation involves an individual’s ability to attend to others and imitate actions with objects, gross motor movements as well as speech. Imitation is an essential skill to have in an individual’s repertoire. Being able to copy someone else’s motor movements is one of the main ways that individuals learn language, play skills and social skills. There are numerous times I’ve observed children playing together in a sandbox watching what the other child is doing, specifically how they are building their sandcastle, what objects they are incorporating in their castle and the script that goes along with this play. We learn by observing others and replicating their actions.
Typically developing children learn to imitate in infancy. Infants use imitation to have social interactions with their caregivers and to discover new things. This skill is often difficult to establish with children with autism.
The Imitation Curriculum within our Portia Curriculum is a helpful tool for teaching individuals with autism to imitate others. It includes a variety of goals commencing with teaching actions with objects, imitating vocalizations, imitating fine motor movements, etc. Depending on the individual, imitation may start in the natural environment, where the overall goal is to imitate the child completing actions of interest and build the momentum in a natural way. Once momentum is built in the natural environment using motivating objects we are now ready to present novel imitation skills into the natural environment in which we ask the child to “do this” while completing a new action.
Examples of imitation goals for an individual with high support needs:
- Imitating actions with objects and gross motor movements such as, clapping hands, blowing kisses or stomping feet.
Examples of imitation goals for an individual with moderate support needs:
- Imitating motor movements in a group (such as circle time) and the natural environment.
Examples of imitation goals for an individual with low support needs:
- Spontaneous imitation
Click here for Portia Curriculum – Imitation https://www.portiainternational.com/curriculum/imitation-module/