Implementation of a Token Economy in the Process of Skills Development in Distance Learning Classes with a Child with ASD



The research conducted with a five-year-old child diagnosed with childhood autism evaluates the effectiveness of using of a token economy reinforcer system and discrete trial teaching method for establishing matching and discrimination skills (animal discrimination and matching identical stimuli), as well as answering yes/no questions about preferred items. Due to the pandemic, the child did not have the opportunity to attend rehabilitation centers, so the parents agreed to work in a distance format. For this study, the child’s mother was involved as a tutor, who was previously trained to provide prompts and rewards on time. Data collection was carried out online by a specialist. At the end of the training session, the percentage of correct reactions from the total number of samples was calculated. The results of the study demonstrated that the child has mastered these skills, and also partially generalized them in new environmental conditions. The study also showed that cooperation with parents who take part in the process as tutors in a distance learning format is very beneficial and successfully affects the acquisition of new skills, their generalization, as well as the quality of life of the child.

General Information

Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, childhood autism, rewards, discrete trials, tokens, computer, distance learn- ing, “Boom Cards”.

Journal rubric: Education & Intervention Methods

Article type: scientific article


Acknowledgements. The author of the article is grateful to her scientific advisor Yulia Erz for her help in preparing this research.

For citation: Zayats M.V. Implementation of a Token Economy in the Process of Skills Development in Distance Learning Classes with a Child with ASD. Autizm i narusheniya razvitiya = Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2021. Vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 59–68. DOI: 10.17759/autdd.2021710207. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Cooper J.O., Heron T.E., Heward W.L. Prikladnoi analiz povedeniya [Applied Behavior Analysis]. Moscow: Publ. Praktika, 2016. Pp. 225—226. ISBN 978-5-89816-157-6.
  2. Sundberg M.L. VB-MAPP. Otsenka vekh razvitiya verbal’nogo povedeniya i postroeniya individual’nogo plana vmeshatel’stva [Verbal behavior milestones assessment and placement program: The VB-MAPP]: [In 2 parts: P. 1]. Protokol [Protocol]. [P. 2]. Rukovodstvo. Programma otsenki rechi i sotsial’nogo vzaimodeistviya dlya detei s autizmom i drugimi narusheniyami razvitiya [Guide. Program for evaluating speech and social interaction of children with autism and other developmental disorders]. Rishon LeZion: Publ. MEDIAL, 2013. [P. 1:] 108 p.: fig. ISBN 978-965-559-012-8. [P. 2:] 275 p. ISBN 978-965-559-011-1.
  3. Pantsyr’ S.N., Shvedovskii E.F. Vozmozhnosti i usloviya distantsionnogo konsul’tirovaniya semei, vospityvayushchikh detei s rasstroistvami autisticheskogo spectra [Potentials & Conditions of Remote Counselling of the Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders]. Autizm i narusheniya razvitiya [Autism and Developmental Disorders (Russia)], 2020, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 14—20.  DOI:10.17759/autdd.2020180203
  4. Ayllon T., Azrin N. The Token Economy: A Motivational System for Therapy and Rehabilitation. [New York]: Publ. Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1968. 288 p. ISBN 0-13919357-X.
  5. DeLeon I.G., Iwata B. Evaluation of a multiple-stimulus presentation for assessing reinforcer preferences. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1996, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 519—533. DOI:10.1901/jaba.1996.29-519
  6. Ferguson J., Craig E.A., Dounavi K. Telehealth as a Model for Providing Behaviour Analytic Interventions to Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2019, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 582—616.  DOI:10.1007/s10803-018-3724-5
  7. Gerow S., Radhakrishnan S., Davis T.N. et al. Parent-implemented brief functional analysis and treatment with coaching via telehealth. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2021, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 54—69. DOI:10.1002/jaba.801
  8. Kazdin A.E. Methodological and Assessment Considerations in Evaluating Reinforcement Programs in Applied Settings. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1973, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 517—531. DOI:10.1901/jaba.1973.6-51
  9. Kazdin A.E. The Token Economy: A Review and Evaluation. [Boston]: Publ. Springer, 1977. XVI, 342 p.: 11 il. ISBN 978-1-4613-4123-9. DOI:10.1007/978-1-4613-4121-5
  10. Lindgren S., Wacker D., Suess A. et al. Telehealth and Autism: Treating Challenging Behavior at Lower Cost. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016, vol. 137, no. Supplement 2, pp. S167—S175. DOI:10.1542/ peds.2015-2851O
  11. Matson J.L., Boisjoli J.A. The token economy for children with intellectual disability and/or autism: A review. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2009, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 240—248. DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2008.04.001
  12. Nickelson D.W. Telehealth and the evolving health care system: Strategic opportunities for professional psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 1998, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 527—535. DOI:10.1037/0735-7028.29.6.527
  13. 13.Pellegrino A.J., DiGennaro Reed F.D. Using telehealth to teach valued skills to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 2020, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 1276—1289. DOI:10.1002/ jaba.734
  14. 14.Peterson K.M., Piazza C.C., Luczynski K.C., Fisher W.W. Virtual-Care Delivery of Applied-Behavior-Analysis Services to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Related Conditions. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, 2017, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 286—297. DOI:10.1037/bar0000030
  15. 15.Simacek J., Dimian A.F., McComas J.J. Communication Intervention for Young Children with Severe Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Via Telehealth. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2017, vol. 47, no. 3, pp.  744—767. DOI:10.1007/s10803-016-3006-z
  16. Wacker D.P., Lee J.F., Padilla Dalmau Y.C. et al. Conducting Functional Communication Training via Telehealth to Reduce the Problem Behavior of Young Children with Autism. Journal of developmental and physical disabilities, 2013, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 35—48. DOI:10.1007/s10882-012-9314-0

Information About the Authors

Maria V. Zayats, behavioral specialist, NPO «Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children “Our Sunny World”», Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 712
Previous month: 11
Current month: 21


Total: 733
Previous month: 24
Current month: 21