A common way to manage behaviors is through a token economy. Token economies can be as simple or elaborate as the child for which they are designed. Some adults discredit them initially without realizing they are subject to one on the daily... money! In other words, money (a token) is earned (most likely through task completion at work) to access reinforcers (i.e. food, clothes, electricity). Trust me on this one, they can get much more difficult than that; the good news is, though, they don't have to! Even basic token economies hold much scientific merit.
Basic components of a token economy:
1. Tokens (tickets, pennies, small picture cards... keep in mind these do not necessarily need to be "appealing" the the child but instead serve the purpose of telling him/her that reinforcement is ## responses away)
2. [Withheld] Reinforcers (this is different for each individual but may often include food, verbal praise, or a preferred activity)
3. A well defined target behavior (a.k.a. behavior to increase, TB)
That's it! Of course, for our visual kiddos with autism, we typically include an actual base or board, pictures or symbols of available reinforcers, and a space on the board for the currently selected reinforcer. Sometimes even a timer is helpful.
Basic guidelines for a token economy:
1. Start off with the student set up for success (by allowing the student to contact the reinforcer or "prize" )
2. Be consistent (this is easily done if your behavior to increase is very well defined and yes, across staff members)
3. Offer multiple reinforcers across functions
4. Gradually increase what is "expected" (the response requirement)
Further information is readily available from Cooper, Heron, and Heward's publication of Applied Behavior Analysis. Which leaves me with the fun part: actually making the token economies! We tend to design our kiddos' with a little personal flare. An FR5 (fixed ratio of five... the number of tokens required to "cash in" for a reinforcer) is pretty standard in our classroom but your ratio of tokens/per reinforcer will depend on the child in mind. With this in mind, I made a token boards today that will debut in our classroom this year!
Grab your copy here:
(while the last few hours of the TpT sale take place!)