A Token economy is a system to positively reinforce desired behaviors by giving an object or by using a symbol on an individually designed token board. These items have little value, but can be saved to access a more desired item or activity at a later time, which serves as the back- up reinforcer. Tokens have been found to be effective with one student or a group, with one or multiple behaviors. They are used in most special education classes, as well as some general education classes, to reinforce appropriate behaviors and task completion. The procedure can be implemented in schools by teachers, paraprofessionals, or other trained staff (Alberto & Troutman, 2006). Token economy can also be used in the home by parents or caretakers. This topic was chosen because I have already witnessed successful implementation and am eager to increase my knowledge.
A preference assessment will be conducted by discussing preferences with parents and teacher and observing Suzy during 3 sessions of 10 minute free play time to see which items she chooses to play with on a regular basis. The items will then be placed in front of Suzy in groups of 3 with the top choice from each group being used as potential backup reinforcers. Pictures of these items will be taken for use on the token board. Suzy will be able to choose her “reward” prior to each session.
A recent study of two students, ages 7 and 14, diagnosed with autism, compared the use of a progressive ratio schedule (PR) on the strength of the reinforcement of previously implemented token economy systems, tokens unpaired with reinforcement, and primary reinforcement on skill acquisition at a center based school. The findings indicated inconsistent resp...
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... If there is a discrepancy, the lower number will be divided by the higher number and multiplied by 100. If the IOA is less than 90% further review and training will be needed (Cooper et al., 2007).
Generalization and Fading
In order to ensure generalization of the target behavior, the paraprofessional will use the intervention in other classrooms. Reinforcement rate will be reduced to a variable schedule of reinforcement. The token board can also be used for one session per day to gradually “fade” the use of the reinforcement. Since the token board was already paired with social praise, the use of social praise, which is a more naturally occurring reinforcement would replace the tokens. The paraprofessional will collect baseline data at 30 days and 90 days to check for maintenance. The data will indicate whether the intervention needs to be re-implemented.
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