4 minutes

Who can learn self-monitoring and self-management skills? Anyone.

Anyone? Yes, anyone. Individuals with severe developmental disabilities? Of course. In fact, we encourage it. 

Self-monitoring is a very common and well researched self-management technique. It involves systematically observing and recording one’s own behavior. 

Self-monitoring is used in fitness, dieting, toilet training, social skills training, fluency of math and reading skills, and in the workplace.

It is very likely you engage in some form of self-monitoring already. Weekly to-do lists, tracking steps or fitness goals, and counting carbs/caloric intake are just a few examples. But what if we took self-monitoring further for ourselves, clients, or our children to change behavior in a way that remains positive and motivational? 

In this blog post, we will explore the significance of self-monitoring in ABA and how it can be a game-changer in achieving behavior goals, increasing self awareness, and independence. 

Understanding Self-Monitoring in ABA

Self-monitoring in ABA refers to the practice of individuals systematically observing, recording, and analyzing their own behaviors. This process empowers individuals to gain insights into their actions and emotions, enabling them to make informed decisions and work towards behavior modification goals. Self-monitoring can be particularly beneficial in several ways:

Increased Self-Awareness: Self-monitoring encourages individuals to pay close attention to their behavior, helping them recognize patterns, triggers, and emotional responses. This heightened self-awareness is essential for identifying problematic behaviors and devising strategies to address them.

Personalized Interventions: By self-monitoring, individuals and caregivers can develop a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t in terms of behavior management. This knowledge allows for the creation of tailored interventions that are more likely to succeed.

Promotes Responsibility: Self-monitoring fosters a sense of personal responsibility. It empowers them to take charge of their own behavior and progress, ultimately leading to greater independence. For individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, this is very powerful.

Efficient Problem-Solving: Regular self-monitoring enables quick problem identification and resolution. When a problematic behavior is detected early, it can be addressed promptly, preventing it from escalating.

Data-Driven Decision-Making: Like traditional ABA, self-monitoring relies on data. The data collected through self-monitoring provide valuable information for behavior analysts and caregivers to refine intervention strategies and set achievable goals.

Practical Implementation of Self-Monitoring

Implementing self-monitoring in ABA involves several steps:

Identify Target Behaviors: Begin by identifying the specific behaviors you want to address. These should be clearly defined and measurable.

  • Set Goals: Establish achievable goals related to the target behaviors. Ensure that the goals are realistic and can be broken down into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Select Self-Monitoring Tools: Choose the most suitable tools for self-monitoring, such as behavior charts, diaries, or digital apps. Make sure these tools are easy to use and understand. Be sure to reach out via email if you need app suggestions!
  • Consistent Data Collection: Encourage individuals to consistently record their behaviors. This may involve self-recording incidents, emotions, or using a rating scale to measure the intensity or frequency of a behavior.
  • Data Analysis: Regularly review the collected data to identify trends and progress. Compare current data with baseline data to determine the effectiveness of interventions.
  • Adjust Interventions: Based on the data analysis, make necessary adjustments to intervention strategies. This might involve refining reinforcement techniques or modifying the environment to support desired behaviors.
  • Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate small victories along the way. Positive reinforcement for progress can be a powerful motivator.


Self-monitoring is a valuable tool in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) that empowers individuals to take an active role in behavior management. By fostering self-awareness, personal responsibility, and data-driven decision-making, self-monitoring enhances the effectiveness of ABA interventions. When implemented consistently and thoughtfully, self-monitoring can lead to positive behavior changes and improved quality of life for individuals with autism and their families. It is a tool that not only complements traditional ABA therapy but also promotes autonomy and self-determination, key values in helping people thrive.

Want to learn more? Email me at

Written by Amanda Fishley, M.A., BCBA, COBA

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