How Token Economy Boards Work For Us


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Using a Token Board system in our house has made such a difference in how we can effectively communicate with our daughter. I don’t claim to be a professional so please when you read any of my blog posts take them as the personal experience of a mother trying to figure out the best way to help her autistic daughter and sharing her personal experiences both good and bad. In our house I had to be the one to spend countless late nights on the internet searching for Ideas and therapies for specific behaviors one at a time. And then in the mornings try a few and see if any of them clicked and if not repeat the same thing the next night. I couldn’t get the advice of a professional because she wasn’t diagnosed. She was evaluated a couple of times but because she does very well with older people no body could see what I saw at home and in public. The evaluations were usually with 1 or 2 adults at a time giving her 1 on 1 attention so she would pass all the tests. All they would say is she had Developmental Speech Delay and recommend speech therapy. This went on for 2 years. I couldn’t sit on my butt and wait until someone noticed what I had been telling them. So I turned to the internet and researched her behaviors and that is how I came across Autism. All the characteristics matched! I was on to something! Finally yay! In this blog I will document everything we do hoping it helps someone. But in this post I will be specifically talking about the Token Economy Board and how We use it. This doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all advise so you can take the basic context and tweak it to meet your needs. I have also made a few fun token boards because I like to keep things exciting for my daughter and a lot of the free token boards I saw online are boring standard blah blah blah. So hopefully I can figure out how to add a PDF  to this blog but if I don’t just ask and I will email it to you.

So I am starting with this topic because so many people have requested my method of using it. Especially the people that knew my daughter before I started implementing my research. Please understand that this post is long winded and without very many technical terms since I’m really trying to keep it simple for those of you that are looking for a starting point.

It is my Personal belief that the best way to get your child’s attention is through something they like. So my token boards are themed based on what she is interested in at the moment. That way she is excited to earn her tokens at the moment the token board is My Little Pony and the tokens are Cutie Marks. I mostly use the token board for things I know she won’t want to do. After school I have “homework” prepared for her. this includes tracing letters upper and lowercase, practice her sight words (reading and writing them), sitting quietly while I read her a story that she doesn’t really care for to name a few. A lot of the work that we do daily I have laminated and give her dry erase markers so she can do her work. All of the laminated sheets I have for her have square of the fuzzy side of velcro and each of my tokens have the hooked side. I stick a token on everything I want her to do and let her know before hand how many tokens she has to earn to cash in for her reward. I’ve also been teaching her how to self regulate her token board so as she finishes the task she takes the token to her token board and moves to the next item. So on the back of the token board I have a First, Next and Last so that she always knows what we are are doing and where to find her next task. and at the bottom of the schedule I also have a soft velcro where there will be another token for when she finishes all the tasks.

As for rewards they can be anything. In our case I started taking pictures of things I know she loves to play with or read and activities she loves to do. The toughest part of this when I was getting started was NOT letting her do things she has always done freely, such as jumping on her indoor trampoline or playing with her doll house etc. Other examples of rewards that I use are Dancing With Mommy she loves this one the most (you have to throw maturity out of the window and boogie with everything you’ve got) You see I can’t speak for anyone else but Isabella has a very strong ability to know when you are going through the motions or when you are actually fully engaged in the activity. So I give the kids as much effort as I want them to give me. So all of these activities and toys that I’ve taken a picture of I have printed and laminated and stuck some velcro to the back. So once we are ready to get to work I have her select her reward and put it on her Token Board up top where it says I’m working For. Then I tell her how many she needs to earn to get the reward. Depending on the day whether she is having a good day or bad I adjust the expectations. For example tracing the letters on a good day I will have her do the whole sheet before being able to take her token but if I know she’s not in the working kind of mood I will set a timer and tell her ok trace letters until the timer buzzes. And again how much time I set the timer for will depend on how I think she’s doing. Remember the objective is to get your child to perform the task successfully. So I won’t set her up for failure but I can’t back away from the terms either because then they will quickly figure out that if they want to get out of doing something all they have to do is have a meltdown. When she doesn’t want to finish the task I don’t give her the option to go to the next. Her only option is to go to the quiet corner (I refuse to call it timeout) or to finish the task but no yelling kicking hitting throwing is allowed that will get her sent to her quiet corner. And in the corner I have a water bottle with glitter that I made that when shaken it takes 2 minutes for the glitter to settle. So she knows that she has to go sit and shake her bottle and she usually watches the glitter settle and this alone calms her down then she waits for permission to come back and finish the task. I have other calm down items for her in the corner as well more on that on another post.

So fast forward your child has now earned all the tokens necessary to cash in for reward. If you have more work for your child to do you need to let them know ok we are going to Dance for 10 minutes when the timer buzzes we have to do blank blank and blank. I always try to keep my daughter informed and out of the tasks that I have for her to do I make sure to give her the chance to choose as many as possible. For example if the task is writing I will have several different writing things for her to do could be tracing, or writing with her finger or stick in the sand, pencil or crayon. It doesn’t matter as long as she is writing I don’t try to make things seem like all work work work because then she will tune me out and it’s lose lose. That’s not to say that everything is her choice I put things in that HAVE to be my way.

After training her at home to use her token board I made a copy for her teacher which was having a bit of a hard time getting her to do things she didn’t want to do. Even things I knew she could do for example read a book that we have been reading at home every night for a week but at school she wouldn’t get past the 1st word! I even tried to get her to read it for her teacher and she behaved like she didn’t know the words. As soon as we got to the car I gave her the book again and she read the whole thing without a problem. I figured then that she thinks there is a separate set of rules for being at school. Once I gave the teacher a copy of the token board I use at home Isabella’s was pretty upset for about 5 minutes. I believe that is when she realized she would have to work to earn her rewards at school as well 🙂 But after the initial shock of her worlds combining Home, school, and ABA, she actually did so much better. The rest of her day was perfect. She now had control of how her day went. She has a visual of what she needs to do and how much more she has to earn to get her reward. Her Teacher is happy and for the past 3 weeks has had about 2 or 3 very short (less than 5 minutes) meltdowns.

So the following are photos of my token board and I am working on several more so if you have a theme that you think your child would like let me know and I will try to put one together. Thanks for reading about our journey and I hope this post helps someone!

Print and laminate token board, tokens and reward pics.

Print and laminate token board, tokens and reward pics.

Make sure to put the fuzzy side of velcro on the boards and always use the hook side on tokens and rewards.

Make sure to put the fuzzy side of velcro on the boards and always use the hook side on tokens and rewards.

Here is here token board. In this one she is working for some dancing time! She only has to earn 3 tokens so I had placed the bottom 3 cutie marks so there would only be 3 slots for her to see. She is very visual and if I had left the other 3 open she would have gotten frustrated.

Here is here token board. In this one she is working for some dancing time! She only has to earn 3 tokens so I had placed the bottom 3 cutie marks so there would only be 3 slots for her to see. She is very visual and if I had left the other 3 open she would have gotten frustrated.


Sensory Approved Frozen inspired Ana Costume


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Handmade Birthday Card

Handmade Birthday Card 

Handmade gift wrapping to match dress :)

Handmade gift wrapping to match dress 🙂

Ana Inspired costume short dress so it can comfortably be used to play but you can make it as long as you’d like. Soft cotton and silky polyester for the hypersensitivity SDP child. And because it’s a circle skirt the twirl power this has was perfect for my daughter which is a human spinner.

So this is a quick post I wanted to get out before it was too late for anyone to make it. My girl has been invited to her 1st birthday party.  Now she’s been to parties before but usually because one if her brothers was invited and she came with us. But never has she been invited by a friend! … Well the day has come this little girl loves Isabella for who she is and is ok if Isabella only plays parallel to her and has been so paitent with her that now Isabella asks to go play with her friend!  To anyone that has an Autistic child I know you know the joy behind this major step! Well the party is at a gym and the theme is from the Disney Movie Frozen. I’m not the best behind a sewing machine I taught myself after I found out Isabella had Sensory Processing Disorder. She liked all the pretty princess stuff or fairies but the tulle and cheap costume fabric would dig into her like 60 grit sandpaper! And the good quality costumes were $100+ so a friend gave me her sewing machine and off I went to YouTubevercity! I’ve made a bunch of her outfits since but shy away from the delicate fabrics they scare me! But with this Ana Costume I couldn’t find any cotton in royal blue 😦 but did find a remnant of it in polyester in the clearance bin for under $3.00 so I took on the challenge and faced my fears…. but in a “safe” way that I will NEVER do again. After I cut my circle skirt out I was so terrified if the fraying that I used Fraystop all over. OMG this stuff is so tacky the skirt kept sticking to itself. I had to zigzag around the elastic waistband twice to cover all tackiness if I left a hint of it my girl would NOT wear it. Then at the bottom hem I had some hem tape that perfectly matched the blue so I sewed that on to cover tackiness on hem. If I were daring enough to sew an actual hem I would have but I only have 3 days till the party. No I don’t procrastinate I just take on WAY to many projects 3 children with do that to you! So bottom line is with my very limited novice sewing skills, scary fabric, no room fir error, and deadline I was able to completely put this costume together in 1 day! Not straight though lots of breaks to handle kid after school shuffle and waiting for glues to dry.

Skill level BEGINNER!
Sewing machine
Fabric to make circle skirt my daughter wears a size 7/8 and I used less than 3/4 yard to make an 11 inch long skirt.
Tulips fabric glitter sets (I used 2 different sets since they didn’t have all the colors I needed in one but still cost under $5.00 per set and I have a ton left ove)
Light box
Print out pattern of designs (They are free and they belong to Event Horizon Cosplay go say hi and print yours!)
I bought the tank and blue shirt at Wal-Mart on clearance and the shorts I had on hand
Gold colored ribbon

Draw out your circle skirt there are lots of tutorials online for how to make one and the formula to used so I won’t get into specifics. But you can follow this link to the instructions I used. Circle Skirt Tutorial

Next cut out your skirt. I didn’t take pics of the next few steps but you would sew your elastic into a circle then attach the skirt onto elastic but all these instructions are one the tutorial I linked to above. For bottom hem I just used hem tape I don’t have the expertise to work with this fabric so I took the safe route!

Using the light box and a printout of the design put your shirt on top use the Tulip fabric glitter set glue and trace the design one color at a time. So we did everything that would be green 1st and my little helper sprinkled all the gillter generously then carefully shake off excess glitter and funnle back into container. Repeat with all colors set aside to dry. Be careful with the glue do not snip the top (like I did) instead use a small needle to make hole.

All the pics here are self explanatory. Just be advised when doing the skirt make sure to work on a big surface and so your skirt can stay spread open and move the light box around again work one color at a time. I did all the stems and leaves 1st waited 2 hours then shook off excess and then did the next color and let it sit over night (about 24 hours) as you can see above I didn’t wait between colors on the 1st one and some pink got stuck in green areas.

Last I sewed gold trim around the bottom of shirt. I did have to cut some of the shirt off since it was to long for her. And the Shirt underneath I just tucked into the skirt. You definitely want shorts on underneath because you little girl will spend a lot of time spinning in this baby! You can get fancy and make this really look realistic but I knew this would be mostly for playing and was working with less than 24 hours at this point. So there you have it! Now go put one together for your beauty!

I would love to see everyone’s creations if you use my post as inspiration 🙂 please respect the images on this post as my own. You are welcome to use the 1st one as long as it contains a link back to my page. And if you like my post please like, share and Pin me!

How Isabella melted my heart…. Again!


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September 3, 2014 at 8:00pm est. I literally saw music notes flutter to my ears!

Yes I will explain! At 8:00pm we start Isabella’s bedtime routine. It usually takes some coaxing and reward offer to get her to cooperate quietly but not on this wonderful evening! I simply asked “Isabella are you ready for bed? ” and her response was “Mommy can we go potty and brush my teeth? I have to go to school tomorrow.” I wasn’t completely sure I was awake because I really didn’t think I would hear those words come from her mouth especially considering the nightmare of a teacher we had last year at a different school. (More on that in another post don’t want to ruin this glorious moment! ) I hugged her tightly mostly to hide my tears. They were happy tears but I didn’t want her to think I was sad.

So the only conclusion I can come up with is the teacher this year is above all happy to be working with Special Needs children and Isabella can feel her love, patience and compassion. She is trained to understand certain behaviors and doesn’t belittle the children for behaviors they can yet control. She doesn’t yell at them to get their cooperation (which in our case would start a back and forth fight last year with that awful teacher) And most of all she understands that when a meltdown is happening the best thing to do is clear the room to remove the sensory overload of and for the other children. And then just 1 person is there to help her through the meltdown.

My humble advice to anyone searching for preschool/school is to interview the teacher. Ask some tough questions and demand the answers make sure everything is covered in the IEP! Very important questions would be 1- How long have you been teaching special needs. (This is THE most important answer anything less than I was an assistant in a special needs environment for 5 years is a major red flag!) 2- How will you communicate with my nonverbal child? 3- In the event of a meltdown how will you handle calming my child down? 4- Could you show me your classroom? And make sure to have the teacher point out where the quite area will be such as tent or shelves that form a separation from the rest of the class with maybe just a soft pillow or blanket.

Do you have any experiences that you could share to someone going to their 1st IEP meeting? Or any suggestions on how you have been able to ease the transition into school?

Welcome to Isabella’s Spectrum Designs!


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Thank you for stopping in to our blog to follow our journey. We are in the works of writing blog posts which will hopefully be helpful in some way to some one (or a lot of someones!) Please be patient as we are updating and feel free to request topics. This Blog will focus on educating the public about Autism Spectrum Disorder, Supporting each other as we navigate our very interesting lives with our awesome children, therapies or techniques that have helped and other experiences. Here I will also highlight the small business that I am creating with my 5 year old on the spectrum in hopes that by the time she grows up she will know the business like the back of her hand and be able to live an independent happy life and be able to support herself. We will make a donation with every sale to support Autism Awareness and hoping to start a running group in the area. Stay tuned to future posts!