In the classroom and clinic settings, my team and I have used many strategies and supports to shape the maladaptive behaviors of our learners. We have had many conversations and debates on when to use a task strip versus a token board. I will admit that when I started working with a new team, my old teaching strategies and ways were hard to change. I have been open to learning new ways to implement the strategies that I know and are familiar with, and I have seen our new learners thrive! Working with my new team, I have learned that typically if we are using a task strip, our learner is getting to escape something, and if we are using a token board, our learner is gaining access to something. We pair a task strip as counting down to something being all done, and a token board to counting up and getting “more”. In this post, I will share some tips and ideas for using and choosing task strips and token boards.
There are many types of task strips and ways that they can be implemented and individualized. Depending on each learner, the team may utilize putting a tab down for correct responding or putting a tab down for appropriate behaviors. My team and I have had many discussions about what implementation strategy of a task strip would be most beneficial to each of our learners. For most of our learners, we have learned that it is most beneficial to put a tab down one at a time for appropriate behavior. We understand that the skills and programs that we are targeting, especially during discrete trial, are skills that are in acquisition and may be difficult for our learner to get the correctly which may increase frustrations.
Token boards are implemented similar to task strips. Most of the learners that I have receive a star on their board for engaging in appropriate behavior rather than answering correctly. In the past, if a learner is engaging in maladaptive, off task, or inappropriate behaviors, we would give tokens quicker during quick and fast moments of appropriate behavior. Doing so would give the learner quicker access to their reinforcer. We have changed our ways after observing that this was increasing behaviors with some of our learners and reinforcing them for engaging in negative behaviors which gave them quicker access to what they wanted. Another tip is for a learner who may show a need to have control. The service providers or teachers should be the ones in charge of putting the tokens on. In this situation, there is a risk of power struggle between the learner and the adult.
There are many different token boards and token economies and must be individualized per learner. Some examples are:
- Learner gets 3 stars and gets access to reinforcer
- Learner fills in a 10-piece puzzle of their favorite Mario character and then get access to reinforcer
- Learner earns a token when engaging in appropriate behaviors. At the end of each period, they get to cash in their tokens from individualized chosen reinforcer menu.
- A task strip with 3 tabs including “work” and “all done” icons
- A task strip with 5 tabs including expected behavior icons
- A pill box representing tabs
The Autism Helper has posted many blog posts on token economies that are helpful and found below!
- The Dos and Don’ts Of Token Economies
- Creating a Token Economy
- Setting u a Token Economy
- Schedule Based Token Boards
- Five Benefits to Using a Token Economy
Before setting up and implementing either a task strip or token board, I recommend collaborating with your team and making sure that there is a plan and strategy in place!