I Love You Mom

Kathy-Marie-with-123TokenMe-on-the-SmartBoard-300x300I love you, Mom.” Imagine a mother who has never heard those words from her child? Or been hugged in years? When Kathy asked Marie what social skills she would like to tackle this month in her class of teens significantly impacted by autism, it was an easy decision for Marie. It would be a tough task, so Kathy invited Me to be part of the team. If successful, they knew these new skills would make incredibly memorable Mother’s Day gifts. 


“Where’s Mom?” Photos of families were used to develop an awareness of this very special group- mothers. Lots of pointing, smiling, and “Can you find the mom?” Gradually each student recognized the special attributes in mothers. 


Three magical words: “I love you. With a mixture of verbal and nonverbal students, this was a unique lesson. Simple social stories about why their mothers are special added meaning. Makes me dinner. Takes me places. Watches movies. With support from visuals and shaping words and hands, “I love you” was a mission accomplished.


Hugging was tougher than many would expect. Being touched and so close to others is not easy for these teens. With lots of reinforcement and encouragement, the teens practiced the simple steps in giving hugs: stand up, walk close to the person, circle arms around the person, and squeeze. Kathy said that being hugged by this favorite group of students was a highlight of her school year. 


My part?? The teens were familiar with 123TokenMe, but this was a treat. By connecting Me to the SmartBoard’s projector, everyone shared in the excitement when the whole group earned a token for practicing “I love you” and giving big bear hugs. Woohoo- we rock! Before long the avoidance and protests disappeared. Thanks to an incredible classroom staff, Marie’s students not only learned challenging new skills but had some fun.


And… Mother’s Day. Hopefully these “I Love You’s” and big hugs are celebrated with their mothers this Sunday. Our entire team wishes a very happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere. You are loved. And hugged.


Please share with the mothers in your life!

Vroom- vroom! Off to playing with a friend.

IMG_2764-300x300Follow Me into Miss Summer’s class where today is all about transportation. Summer led a class discussion about race cars being fast and how race cars work hard to get to the finish line. To increase the excitement her students are using my 123TokenMe race car token*.


Summer challenged her kids to follow the “how to be a rock star” rules in order to earn all their tokens and get to their own finish line. Finally, to really rev up her students’ engines, Summer added a fantastic marble race from Pinterest to her classroom rock star area. So, after using Me to motivate them on their individual behaviors, her students will have access to reinforcement that enhances the transportation theme and encourages playing with a peer- marble races with a friend. A great opportunity to cheer for each other.


Was today a great day to be Me, or what? Watched creativity unfold in Summer’s classroom, motivated students, played with marbles, and learned that race car is a palindrome. Can hardly wait to see where tomorrow takes Me.


* The race car token was designed by Ryan, a 123apps4Me guest artist. His artwork for 123TokenMe involves different vehicles for transportation. Learners are transported in style to the intersection of New Skills and Improved Behaviors with the help of Ryan’s drawings.

Stinky Diapers and 123TokenMe


At the APBA conference this past week in Las Vegas we met interesting behavior analysts from all over the world, and received great feedback. Maribel, however, took the prize for the most pungent idea yet for using 123TokenMe.


Maribel works primarily one-on-one with pre-school kids, but several times a week she runs a small skills group. Her idea? To take a group photo of her kiddos and set them up as a 123TokenMe group session. She said they love to call themselves something funny- Stinky Diapers, for example. She will set a target behavior such as Asking questions that the Stinky Diapers will work on together. She was already imagining how she’ll have each student come forward to tap a token for their group of peers after asking a question.

The reinforcer? A group activity that the Stinky Diapers will choose, such as a popcorn party, or playground time. Great idea, Maribel. Starting this week, have fun with 123TokenMe and the Stinky Diapers. Just don’t forget to hold your nose!

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. 

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 = )