This post originally appeared on the blog The Autism Vault.

Since the needs of typical students and our students with autism can vary greatly, I thought it would be a good idea to give some ideas and examples of self-monitoring that are commonly used in autism classrooms.
 
If you’re completely new to the idea of self-monitoring, it’s a strategy where students are responsible for managing their own behavior. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the typical token economies (whether individual or for the whole class), but self-monitoring ups the ante. Students must reflect on their behavior and whether or not they have followed the rules set up for them. I especially love this strategy for older students. It’s pretty safe to assume that our students will not be walking around with a point sheet or a token economy system for the rest of their lives, so it’s important for them to start reflecting on their behavior now.
 
I currently have two students who use self-monitoring. Both students are working on skills for working in a whole group. However, their goals and self-monitoring system vary.

I have one student who uses a self-monitoring check-off system. He is responsible for setting the timer for six minutes (although this will eventually increase). He has two rules that he needs to follow. If he is able to follow these rules, he gives himself a check when the timer goes off.

 
If you're completely new to the idea of self-monitoring, it's a strategy of students being responsible for managing their own behavior. I'm sure we're all familiar with the typical token economies (whether individual or for the whole class), but self-monitoring ups the ante. Students must reflect on their behavior and whether or not they have followed the rules set up for them. I especially love this strategy for older students. It's pretty safe to assume that our students will not be walking around with a point sheet or a token economy system for the rest of their lives, so it's important for them to start reflecting on their behavior now.
 
My other student is working on staying on topic during group lessons. He uses a tally chart. Instead of holding on to the timer, I will use a timer on my phone to prompt him to give himself a yes or no tally. I usually set the timer for 2-3 minutes, just to add a little more ambiguity as to when the timer will go off. When the timer goes off, the student needs to be on topic in order to earn a tally. The mystery of when the timer will go off seems to help my student monitor himself throughout the interval, rather than goofing off until the last 30 seconds of the interval.

If you're completely new to the idea of self-monitoring, it's a strategy of students being responsible for managing their own behavior. I'm sure we're all familiar with the typical token economies (whether individual or for the whole class), but self-monitoring ups the ante. Students must reflect on their behavior and whether or not they have followed the rules set up for them. I especially love this strategy for older students. It's pretty safe to assume that our students will not be walking around with a point sheet or a token economy system for the rest of their lives, so it's important for them to start reflecting on their behavior now.
 
Things to Keep in Mind When Setting Up Self-Monitoring:
  • As with any behavior intervention, you want to think about what you want the student to do as opposed to what you what them to not do. Limit it to 2-3 things at a time, give or take depending on what is best for your student.
  • Take baseline data. It’s tough to really know if an intervention is useful if you don’t have data. Take baseline data and make sure you’re taking data after the intervention has been put in place.
  • Make sure your student is in the loop as to what behaviors they are working on. It should be very explicit as to what they are working on.
  • Don’t forget to teach the student how to use their self-monitoring system, just like you would any other skill.

If you have students who are currently using individual token economies in your class, you may want to try moving them on to self-monitoring. You can get your own copy of these self-monitoring tools for free from my Teachers Pay Teacher store.

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The Autism Vault: Teachers Pay TeachersLiz Manolis has been teaching middle school students with autism for the past 8 years. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has a passion for using the science of behavior to teach communication and life skills, as well as foster independence in her students. Liz brings her ideas and knowledge to others through her blog, theautismvault.com, and through her resources in her Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.