“I want to implement a Token Economy system with my 12 year old Aspie. Can you give me detailed instructions on how to do this?”
1. Identify the behaviors for which your child can earn credits. An example of a good behavior would be if he took it upon himself to start and complete his homework without having to be asked twice to do so. Then you would award him a token.
2. Decide the "currency" used. Every time your "Aspie" (i.e., high functioning autistic child) does something positive, then he would earn a token (e.g., a sticker, points, poker chips, monopoly money, etc.). You can even offer bonus points for doing certain chores.
3. Determine the value of the currency (i.e., how many tokens your child should receive for each good behavior – and how many he should lose for each bad behavior). For example, he could earn 5 tokens for every time he takes the trash out without having to be asked twice, and he could lose 3 tokens for every time he picks on his sister. (Caution: If you subtract too many tokens, he will feel like there is no way to win in this game – and he will quit. In this case, you could subtract tokens for every third time he picks on his sister.)
4. Decide what type of privileges your child should receive for his tokens (e.g., a few extra minutes of computer time, a later bedtime, coloring book, favorite snack, etc.). Be sure to pick the rewards that he is truly interested in. Also, whenever you give your child a token, be sure to praise him and explain why he is receiving the token. In this way, he will know what behaviors to repeat in the future. Praise in itself is a reward, motivator – and it builds self-esteem. All kids like to hear how well they are doing.
5. Give the reward items a cost so that your child can turn in his tokens for the different rewards (e.g., 30 minutes extra time on the computer costs 10 tokens, going out for pizza costs 20 tokens, etc.). Also, be sure to have rewards with a higher value to motivate your child to maintain good behavior, but also have items at a lower value since they will be easier for him to obtain.