Fading Out Token Economies

Categories: Interventions | Resources

Token economies are awesome. These system of reinforcement glory enable us to get our little bundles of love to work or maintain behavior for an extended period of without needed get their high powered reinforcer every few minutes. These are essential to a well run classroom and must be individualized for each student. So I have sold you on token economies? Here is the catch – you have got to worry, be ready for, and plan for fading out your beloved token economy.

This is an extremely hard thing for me – mentally. You finally have something that works and as your carefully slide around on your thin ice of calm the thought of changing absolutely anything seems just plain dumb. I get it. I have this frustration/worry/anxiety all the time. Don’t rock the boat, right!? But you know what – sometimes it’s our job to rock the boat. We don’t want our students depending on these systems for the rest of their lives. Imagine if you still needed your mom’s help to tie your shoe or needed someone to cut up your hotdogs. It’s be weird. I mean it’d be weird if you still wanted to indulge in cut up hot dog for a balanced meal – but to each their own. Our jobs are to make our students as independent as possible and generalize those skills like crazy. So let’s get this boat a rocking.

One of my all time favorite and most frequently used token economies is this mini one. You may have it – it’s one of my best sellers on TpT. It’s a go-to must have. It’s great for those students who need structure and visuals in order to prompt new learning, appropriate behavior, or independent work. We love over in my room.

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But before we get too comfy with this one, I like to push the envelope. This is a good one to try and fade because we don’t really want adults with autism running around asking for stars every time they do something good. I have faded this successfully to a 10 tallies system (which is way less intrusive and more ‘typical’) with some of my most tricky students. Here’s how:

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If you think I did this in one day, you have really underestimated the trickiness (cleverness) of my students and you really don’t understand the word fade. It’s fade out token economies not shock the system. This process is gradual. Don’t rush it. Give it a try. Rock the boat a bit – don’t worry you won’t tip over 🙂

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for your post. As a teacher of high school students with autism I have tried various methods to get them off tokens, because after high school. They will not be rewarded like that, and they need to be as independent as possible. I have had a few successes and some failures in trying to wean my students (and their parents) off tokens. I will try this in September for sure.

    Reply
  2. This is an awesome idea! I too teach HS students with autism and fading can be SO difficult. I can’t wait to try this!

    Reply
  3. Let me know how it works! 🙂

    Reply

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