Self-Management of Problematic Social Behavior

  • Robert L. Koegel
  • William D. Frea
  • Alan V. Surratt
Part of the Current Issues in Autism book series (CIAM)


The purpose of this chapter is to discuss self-management as a valuable aid in the treatment of problematic social behaviors in autism. Within this treatment, the child is taught to determine whether or not a target behavior has occurred, how to record the occurrence of the behavior, and how to recruit or obtain reinforcement. The use of self-management permits a large amount of behavior management without the continual presence of a treatment provider, thus increasing the amount of treatment provided as well as the number of settings where treatment takes place. Self-management is especially ideal for individuals whose primary treatment goals are in the area of pragmatic or social skills. In environments where it would be especially intrusive or stigmatizing to have a clinician present, self-management (in the absence of a clinician) may have significant advantages. Not only is it less stigmatizing without the presence of a therapist, but it also is more likely that opportunities for natural social exchanges will occur under such conditions. Self-regulation during such exchanges also has the potential for fine-tuning social skills as a result of peer modeling and feedback. Because children with autism have many characteristics that make their behavior difficult for a single therapist to modify, incorporating self-management into a treatment package is especially advantageous. This is true to a large extent because of the need to observe and provide consequences for numerous behaviors across many settings. Further, although some of these behaviors occur infrequently, they are severely problematic when they do occur, thus requiring the therapist to maintain continuous vigilance over extended periods of time. For example, children with autism (1) exhibit low-probability excess behaviors that disrupt their environments; (2) fail to exhibit numerous appropriate behaviors that can enhance their development; and (3) exhibit certain behaviors that, even though they may occur rarely, have a major impact on nonhandicapped individuals judgments of autism. These characteristics result in the need for continuous and vigilant treatment intervention across significant portions of the day in order to produce socially meaningful treatment impacts. Self-management addresses this need by incorporating the child as an active contributor to his/her own treatment. The following characteristics of autism illustrate how self-management can be useful.


Social Skill Developmental Disability Autistic Child Target Behavior Treatment Provider 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bagshaw, N. B. (1978). An acoustic analysis of fundamental frequency and temporal parameters of autistic children’s speech. Unpublished master’s thesis. University of California, Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  2. Baltaxe, C. A. (1977). Pragmatic deficits in the language of autistic adolescents. Journal of Pediatrics Psychology, 2, 176–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baltaxe, C. A. M. (1981). Acoustic characteristics of prosody in autism. In P. Mittler (Ed.), New frontiers of knowledge in mental retardation (1) (pp. 223–233). Baltimore: University Park.Google Scholar
  4. Baltaxe, C. A. M. (1984). Use of contrastive stress in normal, aphasic, and autistic children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 27, 97–105.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Baltaxe, C. A. M. & Guthrie, D. (1987). The use of primary sentence stress by normal, aphasic, and autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 17, 255–271.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baltaxe, C. A. M., & Simmons, J. Q. (1975). Language in childhood psychosis: A review. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 40, 439–458.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartak, L., Rutter, M., & Cox, A. (1975). A comparative study of infantile autism and specific developmental receptive language disorder: 1. The children. British Journal of Psychiatry, 126, 127–145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernard-Opitz, V. (1982). Pragmatic analysis of the communicative behavior of an autistic child. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 47, 99–109.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Burke, J. C., & Cerniglia, L. (1990). Stimulus complexity and autistic children’s responsivity: Assessing and training a pivotal behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 233–253.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carr, E. G., & Durand, V. M. (1985). Reducing behavior problems through functional communication training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 111–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Craig, H., & Gallegher, T. (1982). Gaze proximity as turn regulators within three-party and two-party child conversations. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 25, 65–75.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dodge, K. A. (1983). Behavioral antecedents of peer social status. Child Development, 54, 1386–1399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duncan, S., & Fiske, D. (1977). Face to face interaction: Research, methods and theory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Fay, W. H. (1969). On the basis of autistic echolalia. Journal of Communication Disorders, 2, 38–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Feldhusen, J. F., Thurston, J. R., & Benning, J. J. (1970a). Aggressive classroom behavior and school achievement. Journal of Special Education, 4, 431–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Feldhusen, J. F., Thurston, J. R., & Benning, J. J. (1970b). Longitudinal analysis of classroom behavior and school achievement. Journal of Experimental Education, 38, 4–10.Google Scholar
  17. Feldman, R. (Ed.). (1982). The development of nonverbal behavior in children. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  18. Fine, G. A. (1981). Friends, impression management, and preadolescent behavior. In S. R. Asher & J. M. Gottman (Eds.), The development of children’s friendships (pp. 29–52). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Fowler, S. (1984). Introductory comments: The pragmatics of self-management for the developmentally disabled. Analysis and Intervention of Developmental Disabilities, 4, 85–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1985). Children’s perceptions of the personal relationships in their social networks. Developmental Psychology, 21, 1016–1024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Furman, W., & Robbins, P. (1985). What’s the point: Selection of treatment objectives. In B. Schneider, K. H. Rubin, & J. E. Ledingham (Eds.), Children’s peer relations: Issues in assessment and intervention (pp. 41–54). New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldfarb, W., Braunstein, P., & Lorge, I. (1956). A study of speech patterns in a group of schizophrenic children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 26, 544–555.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grossman, H. (1983). Classification in mental retardation. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Deficiency.Google Scholar
  24. Haring, T. G. (1990). Social relationships. In L. Meyer, C. A. Peck, & L. Brown (Eds.), Critical issues in the lives of people with severe disabilities (pp. 195–217). Baltimore: Brookes.Google Scholar
  25. Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1975). Incidental teaching of language in the preschool. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 8, 411–420.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hartup, W. W., & Sancillio, M. F. (1986). Children’s friendships. In E. Schopler & G. B. Mesibov (Eds.), Social behavior in autism (pp. 61–79). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  27. Hoffer, B., & St. Clair, N. (Eds.). (1981). Developmental kinesics: The emerging paradigm. Baltimore: University Park.Google Scholar
  28. Hunt, P., Alwell, M., & Goetz, L. (1988). Acquisition of conversation skills and the reduction of inappropriate social interaction behaviors. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 13, 20–27.Google Scholar
  29. Kanfer, F. (1971). The maintenance of behavior by self-generated stimuli and reinforcement. In A. Jacobs & L. Sachs (Eds.), The psychology of private events (pp. 143–179). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  30. Kanfer, F., & Hagerman, S. (1981). The role of self-regulation. In L. Rehm (Ed.), Behavior therapy for depression: Present status and future directions (pp. 143–179). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  31. Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 3, 217–250.Google Scholar
  32. Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., Hurley, C., & Frea, W. D. (1992). Improving social skills and disruptive behavior in children with autism through self-management. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 341–354.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., & Parks, D. R. (1991). How to teach self-management to people with severe disabilities: A training manual. Unpublished manuscript. University of California, Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  34. Koegel, R. L., & Felsenfeld, E. (1977). Sensory deprivation. In S. Gerber (Ed.), Audiometry in infancy (pp. 247–262). New York: Grune & Stratton.Google Scholar
  35. Koegel, R. L., & Frea, W. D. (1993). Treatment of social behavior in autism through the modification of pivotal social skills. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 26, 369–377.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koegel, R. L., & Koegel, L. K. (1990). Extended reductions in Stereotypic behavior of students with autism through a self-management treatment package. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 23, 119–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Koegel, R. L., Koegel, L. K., & O’Neill, R. E. (1989). Generalization in the treatment of autism. In L. V. McReynolds & J. E. Spradin (Eds.), Generalization strategies in the treatment of communication disorders (pp. 116–131). Toronto: B. C. Decker.Google Scholar
  38. Kohn, M. (1966). The child as a determinant of his peers’ approach to him. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 109, 91–100.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lagomarcino, T., & Rusch, F. (1989). Utilizing self-management procedures to teach independent performance. Education and Training in Mental Retardation, 24, 297–305.Google Scholar
  40. Levinson, S. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Litrownick, A. J. (1982). Special considerations in the self-management training of the developmentally disabled. In P. Karoly & F. Kanfer (Eds.), Self-management and behavior change: From theory to practice (pp. 315–352). New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  42. Loveland, K. A., Landry, S. H., Hughes, S. O., Hall, S. K., & McEvoy, R. E. (1988). Speech acts and the pragmatic deficits of autism. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 31, 593–604.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Lovett, D., & Haring, K. (1989). The effects of self-management training on the daily living of adults with mental retardation. Education and Training in Mental Retardation, 24, 306–323.Google Scholar
  44. Mank, D., & Horner, R. H. (1987). Self-recruited feedback: A cost-effective procedure for maintaining behavior. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 8, 91–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McHale, S. M., Simeonson, R. J., Marcus, L. M., & Olley, J. G. (1980). The social and symbolic quality of autistic children’s communication. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 10, 299–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Michael, J. (1986). Repertoire-altering effects of remote contingencies. Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 4, 10–18.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Moore, S., Agran, M., & Foder-Davis, J. (1989). Using self-management strategies to increase the production rates of workers with severe handicaps. Education and Training in Mental Retardation, 24, 324–332.Google Scholar
  48. Nelson, R. O. (1977). Methodological issues in assessment via self-monitoring. In J. D. Cone & R. P. Hawkins (Eds.), Behavioral assessment: New directions in clinical psychology (pp. 217–240). New York: Brunner-Mazel.Google Scholar
  49. O’Leary, S., & Dubey, D. (1979). Applications of self-control by children: A review. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 12, 449–465.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. O’Neill, R. E. (1987). Environmental interactions of normal children and children with autism. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara.Google Scholar
  51. Pronvost, W., Wakstein, M., & Wakstein, D. (1966). A longitudinal study of the speech behavior and language comprehension of fourteen children diagnosed atypical or autistic. Exceptional Child, 33, 19–26.Google Scholar
  52. Prutting, C. A., & Kirchner, D. M. (1987). A clinical appraisal of the pragmatic aspects of language. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 52, 105–119.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Quay, L. C., & Jarrett, O. S. (1984). Predictors of social acceptance in preschool children. Developmental Psychology, 20, 793–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ricks, D. M., & Wing, L. (1975). Language, communication, and the use of symbols in normal and autistic children. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 5, 191–222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rimland, B. (1964). Infantile autism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  56. Rutter, M. (1970). Autistic children: Infancy to adulthood. Seminars in Psychiatry, 2, 435–450.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Sainato, D. M., Strain, P. S., Lefebvre, D., & Rapp, N. (1990). Effects of self-evaluation on the independent work skills of preschool children with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 56, 540–549.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Scherer, K., & Ekman, P. (Eds.). (1982). Handbook of methods in nonverbal behavior research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Schreibman, L., Kohlenberg, B. S., & Britten, K. B. (1986). Differential responding to content and intonation components of a complex auditory stimulus by nonverbal and echolalic autistic children. Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 6, 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schreibman, L., & Mills, J. I. (1983). Infantile autism. In T. J. Ollendick & M. Hersen (Eds.), Handbook of child psychopathology (pp. 105–129). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  61. Seibert, T., & Oller, D. K. (1981). Linguistic pragmatics and language intervention strategies. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 11, 75–88.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shapiro, E. (1981). Self-control procedures with the mentally retarded. In M. Hersen, R. Eisler, & P. Miller (Eds.), Progress in behavior modification (Vol. 12, pp. 265–297). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  63. Sorosky, A. D., Ornitz, E. M., Brown, M. B., & Ritvo, E. R. (1968). Systematic observations of autistic behavior. Archives of General Psychiatry, 18, 439–449.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Strain, P. S. (1984). Social behavior patterns of non-handicapped and handicapped-developmentally disabled friend pairs in preschools. Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 4, 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  66. Von Raffler-Engel, W. (Ed.). (1980). Aspects of nonverbal communication. Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar
  67. Waterhouse, L., & Fein, D. (1978). Patterns of kinesic synchrony in autistic and schizophrenic children. In F. C. C. Peng & W. von Raffler-Engler (Eds.), Language acquisition and developmental kinesics (pp. 157–166). Hiroshima: Bunka Hyoron.Google Scholar
  68. Whitman, T. (1990). Self-regulation and mental retardation. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 4, 347–362.Google Scholar
  69. Wing, L. (1969). The handicaps of autistic children—A comparative study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 10, 1–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wing, L. (1985). Autistic children. New York: Brunner-Mazel.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Koegel
    • 1
  • William D. Frea
    • 1
  • Alan V. Surratt
    • 2
  1. 1.Autism Research CenterUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Center on Human DevelopmentUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

Personalised recommendations