Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Self-Management Interventions on Students with Autism: A Meta-Analysis of Single-Subject Research

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Self-Management Interventions on Students with Autism: A Meta-Analysis of Single-Subject Research

Article excerpt

Although many treatment approaches are utilized for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the standard of scientific proof met by intervention procedures based on applied behavior analysis has not been achieved by any other approach (Foxx, 2008); as a result, the application of applied behavior analysis is generally thought to be the current best practice for this population. One such intervention procedure is self-management, defined as an individual's application of techniques that achieve a desired change in behavior (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007). There is a long tradition of behavioral research on self-management in schools, with researchers in the 1970s studying self-management strategies as a way to increase or maintain desired positive behavior and decrease undesired behavior (Broden, Hall, & Mitts, 1971; Glynn & Thomas, 1974) or to teach writing skills (Ballard & Glynn, 1975). At that time, Lovitt (1973) noted that the educational system should not only teach students performance skills but also provide them with a foundation in the principles of self-management. Although self-management treatment packages vary, a combination of self-monitoring, self-observation, self-evaluation, self-recording, and self-reinforcement components is typically included.

Previous Reviews of Self-Management Applications in Students With ASD

A PsycINFO search identified three literature reviews published prior to November 2012 that used self-management interventions for students with ASD. Machalicek et al. (2007) identified three self-management interventions among 26 studies that concentrated on classroom treatment of students aged 3 to 21 years with ASD who engaged in challenging behavior. Mixed findings were reported for the use of self-management techniques.

Lee, Simpson, and Shogren (2007) conducted a meta-analysis that investigated the efficacy of self-management techniques with students with ASD, and they selected only self-management-based interventions that targeted an increase in appropriate behavior of learners with ASD. The rationale for their decision is consistent with the current objectives of positive behavior support, with the authors noting the importance of improving social and academic outcomes by increasing positive behavior. Eleven studies published between 1992 and 2001 met inclusion criteria for their review. Students included in the study ranged in age from 3 to 17 years. Lee et al. measured strength of treatment effect of the interventions using the percentage of nonoverlapping data (PND) metric. An overall mean PND of 81.9% was reported, and the researchers concluded that self-management interventions were an effective treatment for increasing target behaviors. Lee et al. attributed advantages to self-management based intervention that included "the potential to increase students' self-reliance, facilitate skill generalization, and free teachers and staff from full management responsibility" (p. 3).

Southall and Gast (2011) conducted a review of empirical research published between 1994 and 2008 that used a self-management component with participants having a pervasive developmental disorder. Their review included studies that required a student to take responsibility for behavior, and 24 studies were identified. Seven of these studies were included in the meta-analysis of Lee et al. (2007).

Southall and Gast (2011) separated students by their diagnosis into categories for autistic disorder and higher-functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome (AS). Given their descriptive assessment of the studies, rather than an effect size calculation, Southall and Gast reported that self-management interventions were effective in teaching social, vocational, and communication skills to students with either autistic disorder or higher-functioning autism/AS, who ranged in age from 3 to 25 years. In conclusion, their review suggested that any claim to a specific self-management component as the primary cause of behavior change would be premature. …

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