The token economy for children with intellectual disability and/or autism: a review

Johnny L. Matson, Louisiana State University, USA.
Jessica A. Boisjoli


One of the most important technologies of behavior modifiers and applied behavior analysts over the last 40 years has been the token economy. These procedures are useful in that they help provide a structured therapeutic environment, and mimic other naturally occurring reinforcement systems such as the use of money. Token economies, at least from a research standpoint, appeared to have crested in popularity during the 1980's. However, for children with intellectual disability (ID) and/or autism, such methods continue to hold considerable therapeutic promise. An overview of past developments, current status, and potential future trends and applications with respect to this special population are discussed.