Change is good? Well, in the case of what’s known as a token economy system, change is great! This is a system of behavior modification through [easyazon-link asin=”1591470064″ locale=”us”]positive reinforcement[/easyazon-link]. Basically, in order to achieve the desired behavior or activity, you find something that is rewarding to your child and you support them in working towards this goal. We’ve all grown up with little shiny [easyazon-link asin=”B000MEYJR4″ locale=”us”]star reward charts[/easyazon-link] to encourage us to get our chores done or earn some sort of classroom prize. This is exactly that basic method of reward, but you can extend and expand the concept with endless ideas and through the years of your child’s development.
I work with adult transition students who have successfully used these token economy or [easyazon-link asin=”B00114UCYS” locale=”us”]reward chart systems[/easyazon-link] since preschool. With some creative ideas and thoughtful consideration, you can utilize these systems from preschool through adult. One concern to keep in mind as children grow older is to make sure that the reward is still valuable to that child and that the actual token system is age-appropriate.
Change is Good! Getting Started
What behavior will you reward?
- Remember, you are promoting positive behavior.
How will the behavior be measured?
- It could be based on time or on how often something positive is noted.
- Is it appropriate for home, school and childcare? If so, perhaps you can make it portable for ongoing reinforcement. Be aware that it is important that whoever is managing the [easyazon-link asin=”B001CMSFKW” locale=”us”]token board[/easyazon-link] needs to be consistent or it will become confusing for the child.
What form of token will be used?
- Consider age and life-skills appropriate. If it’s an older student who is learning about money, you can have him earn 10 nickels which he can take to a machine to buy a soda. If it’s a younger child, you can use buttons or picture rewards.
What reward will be worthwhile to the child?
- Let the child be involved in helping choose the reward. It might be several options (on picture cards) from which they choose or it might stay the same for months at a time – if it is still rewarding to earn.
When should the tokens be rewarded?
- Initially, explain the token system to your child at their level. Make a big deal over initial achievements and give tokens more frequently. Then ensure the tokens are rewarded consistently. Make sure everyone at home or in the classroom is on the “same page” for fairness.
How do I keep this system going?
- Continue to review and monitor your system. Sometimes positive behaviors become so dependable that you can fade the reward out and work on a new behavior.
Creating a Token Chart
- Do a “google© image” search of “token system autism” for ideas and sample charts.
- They can be made simply and inexpensively.
- Basic chart materials might include construction paper that is laminated using Velcro© to attach the tokens. For longer lasting charts, you can utilize plastic (like thin binder material).
- Find a token that is fun for your child. Ideas include flat buttons, coin or picture cards. Or the token might actually describe the behavior that is getting rewarded. A token could be as simple as a written check mark too!
- Make sure the reward or reinforcer is visibly shown on the chart so the ultimate goal is obvious to the child.
- You can even purchase [easyazon-link asin=”B002QVUI80″ locale=”us”]inexpensive reward charts[/easyazon-link] online.
You might find that you have as much fun creating new token charts as your child has trying to earn the tokens. There is no right or wrong way to create the charts. The most important thing is to remember the goal is to reinforce positive behavior to achieve positive results.