123TokenMe’s Flexibility with more Impacted Students


If you work with severely impacted individuals with autism and other special needs, you know that flexibility is important. Especially while we are building replacement skills and targeting frustration tolerance or interfering escape behaviors. Can 123TokenMe simultaneously address staying calm and demonstrating the new, difficult skill? 


The easiest method to accomplish this is to award a child two tokens when they truly knock it out of the ballpark. Today I had a student spontaneously take deep breaths to keep himself calm, verbally repeated the complex direction as a self- management strategy to combat his poorer attending, and completed the directions independently and accurately. Woohoo! We celebrated with high fives and extra tokens. This momentum continued, and was celebrated with time for a rarely given special privilege.


In an earlier post, a second method to accomplish this was addressed- setting up the student with two different names in order to address each behavior simultaneously and independently. I’ve used both of these methods successfully- last year with my preschoolers, and this year with my high school students. Another example of the flexibility of 123TokenMe.


Improve two behaviors simultaneously

One-child-two-simulaneous-behaviors-300x300Many great questions and ideas are being generated by our early 123TokenMe Pro users. Today I discuss the question, Is there an easy way to token two different behaviors for the same child? Two behaviors that we want to address simultaneously.”


The answer is yes. As a clinician in classrooms of highly impacted students, this is an ongoing need. Our team is always working to build new replacement skills while simultaneously targeting frustration tolerance or interfering escape behaviors. For example, we want to token staying calm AND a new, difficult skill. Here is one great method to utilize the flexibility of 123TokenMe Pro to accomplish this:


Set up different boards for the same student on 123TokenMe Pro. One board for each behavior. I typically distinguish between boards by using different nicknames. For example, with “Chris” I might use “Chris Calm” for the behavior goal and “Chris Skill” for the difficult new skill. I make sure that the token boards differ visually in token type and background color. Usually the behaviors will also have different parameters and reinforcement. I easily and quickly move between these two boards as if they represented two different students in the same session. Make sure to take a close look at all data generated, and remember to record notes about behavioral patterns.


I used this method last school year with my preschoolers and again this year with my high schoolers. It works. Thanks for your questions. Please keep them coming.


Articulation goals- an opportunity for shared fun

IMG_1916-300x300Last year some of my favorite speech sessions were with a group of kindergarten boys with articulation goals. Who would have guessed they would become big fans of 123TokenMe? As with most of us, they liked to see how long they were going to work and what they were working for: One token = one correct production. Twenty tokens = FUN.


A little bit of control in their very big world. Each boy had a different goal, and knew that after everybody in the group produced twenty correct targets they would all share something fun. A reward that I encouraged them to choose as a group. MarbleWorks? Mr. Potato Head? Star Wars? Very quickly they knew their routine: Check in by finding their name, choose their token type and background color, and decide together what they wanted to play on their break. 


There was lots of conversation making these choices, Hey guys, lets all get soccer balls this time. They knew the rule: EVERYONE had to get all their sounds and receive all their tokens before it was break time. What was surprising, though, was watching them coach and give feedback to each other. They LOVED IT, and I loved seeing them literally cheer each other on.


At the year end conference a mom asked me what app I was using in speech, because her son raved about it. I told her that the boys had so much fun with 123TokenMe, that they did not even recognize how focused they were on working. Speech = fun? Absolutely. 

Tapping and touching turns sweets into toys

Screen-Shot-2012-09-08-at-3.01.27-PM-300x300An unexpected result from using 123TokenMe Pro involved “Sage”, a pre-schooler on my caseload last year. Sage was one of my children severely impacted by autism. She would work for sweet edibles- candy and cookies- and nothing else. On her old fashioned token board her tokens were smiley faces- extremely non-meaningful to her.


Using 123TokenMe Pro, I let Sage choose the token that she wanted to work with- she chose cookies. As her reinforcers, she wanted strictly candy and cookies. Not surprising, right? What happened over the next week, however, was unexpected. I let Sage award herself a token each time that she displayed her target behavior.


She was extremely engaged with her taps turning chocolate chips into cookies. In fact, this touching seemed to gradually lead Sage into becoming satiated with sweets. Slowly, but surely she picked new token types. Even more exciting, she started to choose non-edible reinforcers as rewards- toys and activities.


Expanding the reinforcement choices that a child makes is very important. To expand it seamlessly at the same time that a behavior is being targeted and improved is a real bonus. Thank you Sage, for this unexpected insight.

Picky Eaters Beware!

IMG_2113-300x300Very nice to meet you, Little Picky Eater. You’re about to meet your match- Miss Kathy, armed with my 123TokenMe app.


Here’s how: I start with five tokens and a target behavior of “take a bite.” Next, I use the app “peer to peer.” In other words, I have a peer use the iPad to award the tokens. The three of us have chosen an activity, such as building a fort, that they look forward to playing together after the successful completion of five bites. Shared activity time is something my kids work extremely hard for. I subtly model for the peer how to encourage the behavior- taking a bite of cheese, carrot, crunchy food, or ???


Working with a peer can be extremely motivating and is a key to learning social skills. If I work on this behavior during lunch or snack time, a whole group often starts cheering for my little picky eater as each token is awarded and transformed. A natural setting for social reinforcement- you can imagine the motivation this elicits. I’ve even had students keep going beyond their target of five and take extra bites. The feedback that the app and the peers combine to provide is very powerful.


Little Picky Eater? Not for long.





Toys in the Middle

Toys in the MiddleTransitioning from summer play all by yourself to playing with others at school is tough for our children. A simple way to introduce opportunities for group play is to place toys in the middle, kids on the outside, with children around a common set of toys and facing each other. Whenever a child looks up from play and sees someone, it is a brief social opportunity.  Slowly increase the time you expect a child to play near peers.  Transition them to group play by including a preferred toy in the shared set.  Opportunities for teaching group play: in the sandbox with toys, on the floor with cars and blocks, or at the table with play-dough.

Besides creating opportunities, what else? If you want to sustain play, join in!  Model functional use of the toys by pushing the car or rolling the play-dough.  Add simple language or sound effects.  Enjoy the moment.  If you are not having fun, the child probably isn’t either. I love to tell people that I get paid to play. More info?  Please comment = )

Boo! Ring-around-the-Ghost

Ring-around-the-GhostEach month our preschool classrooms target a group social game. We teach games step-by-step, but our goal is to keep it F-U-N. We began this several years ago, and received feedback from parents that it was helping our kids be more successful at birthday and family parties- a great bonus.

This month’s game is “Ring-around-the-Ghost,”a version of Ring-around-the-Rosie.(Special thanks, SurfMama.) We play this after lunch, a good time for giggling. Goals for most social games include sustained participation, orienting to the group activity, anticipating one’s turn, turn taking, learning to be a good loser, cheering on friends, and following the rules.We build in tangible and social reinforcement at high rates for those demonstrating targeted skills. It is amazing how quickly these are learned.

We begin with the ghost standing in the middle and looking through a simple ghost mask with cutout eyes. We make our own masks using die-cut ghosts on popsicle sticks. The ghost looks at their friends and teachers circling around, holding hands, and singing the familiar tune: Ring- around- the- Ghost. Who will he scare the most? Spooky- spooky. The ghost says, Boo!

For preschoolers, saying Boo! is pure fun.Unlike Rosie, no one falls down. The child or teacher that the ghost is looking at when the singing stops simply becomes the next ghost in the middle.

This game also provides an opportunity to facilitate a child’s understanding of looking at the speaker and the importance of gaze direction.At early stages, we actually take time to draw an imaginary line and connect the ghost’s body orientation and gaze direction to the next ghost. We ask, Who is the ghost looking at? and give high fives as everyone guesses.As a SLP, this is an important nonverbal and social communicative behavior to understand. When a teacher’s orientation is not to the child, it signals, are not my turn now.This is a critical building block to understanding that do not interrupt my teacher now. I need to wait. She is talking to someone else.

Ring-around-the-Ghost. Enjoy.And, “Boo!”

Emotions: Scared? Afraid? No… Brave!

Scared faceScared. Afraid. Brave. We target these emotions during October because of Halloween. We discuss what scared looks like in how we move and what is on our faces. We talk about costumes and not real/ pretend. The staff often introduces this concept using a mask or scarf over someone’s face in a group circle activity… “Where is xx?” When removed, “Look, it’s XX!”

We discuss being safe in simple social stories (thanks, DC!).It’s night time when I trick-or-treat. It’s dark. At night time, I see the moon and stars. A house with lights on signals, someone is home. My mommy or daddy carries a flashlight so we can see. We hold hands and stay in a group.

We look for these types of environmental cues in the books we read this month. Some favorite picture books with lots of recurring lines for choral or group responding include: The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything/ Linda Williams, Go Away Big Green Monster/ Ed Emberley, and We are off to Find the Witcha’s House/ Mr. Krieb. It’s trick-or-treat time, but build this awareness throughout the year when you drive or walk in your neighborhood.Be brave!

A Three Kleenex Moment

Three Kleenex momentBefore the students returned to campus this year, I was asking myself if I was ready for school.There were still questions about my caseload, my computer wasn’t working, and my office was still upside down from a last minute move. As soon as I started seeing the kids and their bright smiles, though, I knew it was good to be back. Hi, Miss Kathy! See my new backpack. Are you coming in my class this year? Look- I lost a tooth! When do I see you? Are you going to be on the playground?

But a single comment from a young girl was what reminded me of how much I loved my job. I had first met her as a preschooler challenged with autism, and now she was entering her third year in elementary school.Pretty as always and growing in confidence, she greeted me as soon as I entered her classroom. Turning from her desk, she shouted, Hello, Miss Kathy! Then she stood up, hugged me and added, You are the best speech teacher in the whole world. It was a three Kleenex moment. Yes, I love my job, and it is great to be back.