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Self-Management (SM)

Instruction focusing on learners discriminating between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, accurately monitoring and recording their own behaviors, and rewarding themselves for behaving appropriately.

Evidence Based
Ages: Skip to Evidence

Steps for Implementation

Step 1. Preparing the Self‐Management System

  1. To prepare the self‐management system:
    1. Identify the target behavior to increase or decrease
    2. Develop a clear description of the target behavior that adults agree upon and that is presented in a format that learners are able to comprehend.
  2. Identify reinforcers that reward the learner by:
    1. asking family members,
    2. asking or formally assessing the learner, and
    3. using knowledge about the learner.
  3. Develop a data collection system by identifying:
    1. the type of data collection system (interval or frequency) and
    2. the initial criterion for the target behavior.
  4. Select self‐monitoring recording and cueing (if interval system is used) devices that are appropriate based on learner characteristics and the setting in which the self‐management system will be used.

Step 2. Teaching Learners to Use the Self‐Management System

  1. Instruct the learner to demonstrate the correct behavior by:
    1. providing learner with a description of the target behavior in a comprehensible form,
    2. prompting learner as needed to demonstrate correct behavior upon request,
    3. reinforcing all correct demonstrations of behavior (prompted and unprompted), and
    4. fading prompts until the learner consistently and independently demonstrates correct behavior upon request.
  2. Instruct the learner to discriminate between examples of correct and incorrect behavior by:
    1. modeling examples and nonexamples of the behavior;
    2. prompting the learner as needed to identify whether each modeled behavior is correct or incorrect;
    3. reinforcing all accurate identifications of correct and incorrect behavior (prompted and unprompted); and
    4. fading prompts until learner can consistently and independently identify examples of correct and incorrect behaviors that are increasingly similar to correct behavior.
  3. Teach the learner how to use self‐recording systems by:
    1. modeling examples of correct and incorrect behavior and prompting the learner as needed to record accurately at the appropriate time;
    2. reinforcing all accurate recordings at the appropriate time (prompted and unprompted); and
    3. fading prompts until the learner independently and accurately records behaviors 80% of the time.

Step 3. Implementing the Self‐Management System

  1. Either:
    1. provide learners with materials needed to use the self‐management system at the appropriate time or
    2. teach learners to independently gather the necessary materials.
  2. Provide learners with cues (e.g., verbal instruction, visual aid) that signal them to begin using self‐ management systems.
  3. Teach learners how to self‐record their behavior in the target setting by:
    1. prompting them (as needed) to self‐record accurately at the appropriate time,
    2. reinforcing all accurate self‐recordings at the appropriate time (prompted and unprompted), and
    3. fading prompts until learners self‐record (without prompts) with accuracy 80% of the time.
  4. Teach learners to gain access to reinforcement when the criteria are reached by:
    1. prompting learners (as needed) to acquire reinforcement when the criteria are reached and
    2. fading prompts until learners consistently and independently acquire reinforcement when the criteria are reached.

Step 4. Promoting Independence with the Self‐Management System

  1. Conduct ongoing, intermittent checks to determine whether learners continue to accurately self‐record and acquire reinforcement when the criterion is met.
  2. Gradually increase the criterion by ensuring that learners are successful at the current criterion before increasing it further.
  3. Gradually increase the session length while simultaneously increasing the criteria.
  4. Gradually increase the interval length as the session length increases.

Research and Outcomes

Research Summary

Age Range: 3-22

Skills: Communication, social, play, school readiness, academic/pre-academic, adaptive/self-help, challenging/interfering behavior, vocational, self-determination

Settings: Home, school, community

Evidence Rating: Evidence Based

The information found in the Research Summary table is updated following a literature review of new research and these ages, skills, and settings reflects information from this review.

Outcomes Matrix

The Outcomes Matrix shows outcome areas by age for which this evidence based practice is effective
Age: 0-5 6-14 15-22
Academic/Pre-academic Yes Yes
Challenging/Interfering Behavior Yes Yes Yes
Communication Yes
Joint Attention
Mental Health
Play Yes
School Readiness Yes Yes Yes
Self-determination Yes
Social Yes Yes
Vocational Yes Yes
More about Intervention Outcomes

Self-management (SM) is an intervention package that teaches learners to independently regulate their own behavior. Self-management involves teaching learners to discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, accurately monitor and record their own behaviors, and reinforce themselves for behaving appropriately. Although learners may initially require adult support to accurately record behaviors and provide self-reinforcement, this support is faded over time. Self-management is often used in conjunction with other evidence-based practices including technology-mediated interventions, modeling, video modeling, and visual supports (Steinbrenner, et al., 2020).