Monday, May 26, 2008

Behavioral programs: the latest iteration of our sticker chart reward system

We've evolved our reward system over about 6 years and much trial and error, so I figure it's worth passing on.

I've mentioned it briefly in the context of the behavior mod philosophy we follow:
Be the Best You can Be: Changing behavior in children: Kazdin for most and what we do now

...We've returned to using a sticker chart of about 7 columns by seven rows. Each act is rewarded with praise and a sticker, a column gets a bigger-than-average privilege (ex: 20 minutes on the Wii) or a quarter (the sibs prefer the money, of course the same system must apply to all), a full chart gets a treat or $2.00...
One particular constraint is that we have 3 children who spam the working labels from neurotypical to (for the moment) Asperger's to a a combination of autism, cognitive disability, anxiety disorder, hyperactivity, etc.

So we needed one solution that would work for all of them, and that would be balanced. Every child needs to earn rewards at about the same rate, regardless of absolute accomplishments. (We have a family, not a corporation.)

Given that constraint, and a lot of experimenting, here's the current configuration. It's worked for over a month, which is fairly long by our standards.
  • Children earn stickers based on individual goals. Awakening, getting dressed, and going downstairs without rousing siblings earns 3 stickers for one of the children. All kinds of acts get 1-2 stickers. We constantly look for opportunities to give positive reinforcement.
  • Doing 1-2 pages in supplementary home study curriculum books we use earns a sticker.
  • One column of stickers is good for either 25 cents or 10 minutes on the computer.
  • An entire chart of stickers is good for either $2.00 or a family outing to the child's favored destination (often this is lunch out -- the $2.00 is way cheaper).
It takes 5-6 days to fill out a chart. We used to give money directly as a reward, but that flopped. The stickers can be exchanged for money, that works better for us.

No comments: