Reinforcement is a common occurrence throughout our daily lives. Receiving a pay check from our work or getting a compliment from our friend- these are forms of reinforcement. Some kinds of reinforcement are more predictable that others, and some take longer to achieve.
During speech therapy the use of reinforcement is crucial, since this is the motivation to continue working and growing during therapy. If a toy, action, or activity is not reinforcing for a child then the likelihood of them wanting to continue is low. It is always the goal to fade the reinforcement from happening continuously to a more natural occurrence. One of the tools we use is a token board. Token boards can take may forms and have endless designs, however they all serve the same purpose. When the child receives all their tokens or "points", they get access to their chosen reinforcement.
EX. Kevin has a 10 piece token board, for every correct answer he receives a token. After he receives all 10 tokens he gets access to his highly preferred reinforcer, cars, for 3 minutes.
Token boards use the principals of primary and secondary reinforcers.
Primary reinforcers: are biological, things like food, drink, sleep, and shelter. We don't need to be taught to want these things.
Secondary reinforces: These are reinforcers that need to be learned through experiences and association. Things such as money, praise, good grades, and well tokens.
Most of our reinforcers are secondary, however by paring a primary reinforcer such as food, with a secondary reinforcer like a token, the secondary reinforcer then can act to increase the likelihood of a behavior or response.
Why use a token board?
1. Token boards are a great visual for the learner to know when the reinforcer will be available. On the token board it self you can have a picture of the reinforcer as an even stronger reminder. When first using a token board, we may reinforce every correct response with a strong reinforcer, such as food or a sensory toy. Then as the child advances, we will . slowly fade to every 5-10 responses.
2. Token boards are adaptable as the child grows. With a child who is just learning the token system and is younger, it can be a toy or a Cheeto for every 5 tokens, but then as the child gets older it can be a collection of tokens or"points" throughout the day to use toward a chosen activity such as phone time, or time on the Ipad.
How to use a token board
In order for the child to understand the purpose of the token board it can be introduced by having the token board full except for one piece. As you are about to reinforce the correct response, you put the token on and show the child that they get the reinforcer (cars, i pad) because they got that token. Then, slowly they will work for 2 tokens, then 3, and eventually can wait to earn all 10 tokens before receiving their reinforcer.
Token boards can be made at home, or printed from the internet, some kids may even want to make their own what ever they look like their intended purpose is the same. Token boards are a great therapy tool that can even work at home!