As you may have noticed, I have been writing a regular column highlighting one of the 27 evidence-based practices (EBPs), otherwise known as ‘things are have a lot of proof behind them that they really work’ in helping people with autism (Wong, 2016). There has been some exciting new developments in this area of study and that list has been very recently revised (2020) and now there are 28 EBPs! As an educator involved in the field of inclusive education and as a parent working to support my own kiddo, I am all about finding what really works and excited when new developments like this occur. Each month, I plan to highlight one of these (now) 28 EBPs for you.
This month, I will highlight the EBP of ‘self-management’. The AFIRM module related to this topic explains it this way: “Self-management involves systematizing self-regulation strategies so that individuals with ASD can learn these rules and norms to act appropriately in a certain situation. Self-management is highly generalizable, easily adaptable to many natural settings, and can be used for long periods of time without assistance from a teacher or practitioner.” In other words, it is a system set up to help discriminate between appropriate or inappropriate (expected vs unexpected) behaviors, accurately monitor one’s own behavior and then reward oneself for that appropriate/expected behavior (if needed). Choose a support needed to make a positive change, decide on the goal specifics, record your success and celebrate!
I find this specific strategy to be very respectful for the user as most of the responsibility is in the users’ hands. It helps to build both independence and self-advocacy skills. Depending on the look and set-up, this strategy can be used from the very young to older people as well. I use self-management for many areas in my own life. These tools are an important tool in my own personal daily and long term successes. For instance, I keep track of personal health goals I have set for myself, check off my successes, and sometimes reward myself with something motivating to me. This lends to my mantra of “Good for all, critical for some”.
What type of goals can be addressed through an effective self-management system? A wide variety of goals both at home, school, work or out in the community can be addressed. Some examples are:
How do we put it into practice?
Self-management can be a ‘stand alone’ strategy (as all the strategies can be) but this also works as an important piece of the plan with many parts. It can be connected to visuals (using a chart, checklist, recording device, etc.), reinforcers (providing that little extra incentive to begin a new path), prompting (providing those reminders (verbal or otherwise), and determining the function of the behavior (the why people do what they do). These pieces, all in conjunction can help to build a more independent and positive day!
If you are interested in checking out the free online AFIRM modules, here is the link (will take you to the self-management module in particular as I am highlighting this here).
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Carmen has been published in a variety of online and print articles. Writing is a passion and she strives to grow and share her message.