Monday, March 5, 2018

Token Boards

We are having some homework drama. He totally can do it. He's just choosing not to and I can't tell if this is an Autism problem or a Teenager problem. More than likely, it's a hellish combo of the two. Ain't I lucky? #Blessed

Something has happened in the last few weeks where the Kiddo wants NOTHING to do with homework and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. This is a child that up to a few weeks ago would do it as soon as he got home from school. (Which as a former homework procrastinator myself, I did not understand how he could be related to me.) We've now hit an area of not just not wanting to do it but added gobs of behaviors that he sprinkles all over the experience. Crying, yelling, screaming and grabbing at me the entire time and for a good half hour after the actual work is done. Good gravy!

Clearly something needs to be done and I brought up to the teacher. She wasn't by any means giving him a lot or anything that was beyond what he could do. That's one of the most challenging parts of this. He's totally capable of it. A few weeks ago he would actually say things like "YAY! MATH!" when pulling out his worksheet. (Again, I almost question if I was given the right baby in the hospital.) His only struggle was the handwriting part but with a few prompts not to rush and take his time, the whole thing would be done pretty quickly and life at the House of Fry would continue right on schedule.
She decided to give him him some super simple homework. Stuff and concepts he's long mastered. She didn't want to get him in the habit of "Throw fit, then no work." which I agree with completely. If it was easy, maybe he would just mellow out and get into the groove again. So far it had been working. I was letting her know that there was less drama and he was just getting it done. She started sending home more challenging work but work he could do none the less and BOOM! It came to a Mac Daddy header last week over four freaking Math questions on a single worksheet. A clusterfuck of a meltdown and all aimed at me. FUN!

So, back to the teacher with a "HELP ME! I cannot be drinking by 3:30 PM every day or the neighbors are gonna talk." email and this was her reply.

"Have you tried a token board?"

Oh sweet Mother of Mercy.
I can't even believe I'm reading these words again but here we are. My Kiddo is 13. You want to talk about been there, done that, and threw the freaking token board out the window because DUDE, we have done that and then some by now. So let me tell you at why with where we are with autism and this journey and all that warm and fuzzy yadda yadda yadda B.S. why this isn't gonna do squat.

Come sit down. Let me break this down like Queen Bey.

Here's a math equation for it. Kiddo's inability to be focused on a long term goal PLUS having next to nothing that actually motivates him because even "Window Fries" don't have the same value as they used to when he solely existed on them as toddler EQUALS The Kiddo giving ZERO FUCKS about a token board. He just doesn't care. Period.

Look, I get that token boards/reward earning works great for some kids but there gets to be a point where this classic move just doesn't cut it anymore. Especially after years of various behavioral approaches being done on the lad. He knows your tricks and he doesn't care how hard you worked on your laminate Velcro tokens that you made when you weren't getting paid over a weekend. I get it. Teachers and therapists work so hard with our kids and I am so grateful that they do because they get paid a shit wage and work all the freaking hours of the day. But WHHHHHHY on God's green earth is this the only go to ya'll got?

I kind of wish teachers would just say "Well, shit, I don't know what to do either if that doesn't work." Let's all just be in that feeling together. It's okay. Sit right next to me. I'll share my fries with you too. Seriously. I'm not saying I know more than you. Not in the slightest. I have ZERO clues just like Kiddo has ZERO fucks about those damn tokens and a timer. That's why I'm emailing you all the time crying for help.

And at this rate, I have to be real about his future. Part of me wants to just say "Okay, we're just not doing this homework stuff anymore." and insist it be added to his IEP. The other part of me really likes this teacher and she's figured out ways that work with him before. We email some more back and forth and I think we might have something. I explained why the token board idea doesn't jive here and that maybe we could focus more on his typing skills since it's when he actually has to write the answers he loses his shit. We have all the products that Apple makes and plenty of WiFi. (I mean clearly it's a strong signal as I'm emailing the teacher all the freaking time.) We're moving on to stuff he can email to her and I'm hoping like Hell this might be the thing that works.

Cause much like the Kiddo, I too give ZERO fucks about a token board and I'd rather focus our collective energy to something that might prepare him more for the future that is rapidly approaching.

Fingers crossed! Let's hope this works.


  1. OMG the dreaded token board... Sending you good vibes that things work out, been there so many times...

  2. I ask "Is this an autism thing or a 10 year old boy thing?" Every. Darn. Day. Hang in there mama. Easier said than done, but the token boards and the sticker charts and timers (we have 3 freakin' timers) can just take a hike.

  3. Ohh reallyy good to read this thansk for sharing this read more

  4. You have me rolling with laughter! I'm a fellow ASD mom and an ABA Therapist and I too agree many times. What's next after the token boards lose effectiveness and our children know our bag of ticks and don't want to participate in the give and take. My son started this aversion to school work when he started public school at 5 years of age. He is currently 9 and still has his days.

    My experience: Many of our children give us their best when we appear to let them have their own way then revisit the tasks they object. I always have to remind myself that there is always something that each child wants. We just have to be able to deliver once we agree to a contract [verbal, written or whatever...]. Then we can eventually coach them to reward themselves.

    You're Awesome. I love your humor and energy.

  5. OK Colour me super late to the show on this post... by about two years...

    I have been reading your entire blog from the beginning for the last 3 days... I will be done the rest in a couple more hours... LOL

    This was the first post that I felt I could actually make a useful share on... Everything else was 'just yup... I get it...' and I can imagine spamming that in every post would NOT be appreciated...

    but this is what I did when my now 22 year old was starting to fight back on the issues of homework back in middle school... which came to an end fast... My thinking was this:

    School is school... Home is home... I totally had 'Never send homework home (except for Mom, ie trip forms, info sheets, etc)' to his IEP's each and every year...

    I felt his home environment was his sanctuary...

    I never allowed testing, interviews, meetings, nothing of that sort to happen inside the home... I wanted Jason to have at least one place in the world that the outside did not invade...

    I did this after several episodes of trying to get him to do sent homework but it was fruitless after a point... and this was not a battle I chose to engage in ... reward systems, first thens, nothing worked to get him to do the work...

    This removed so much stress from the home it was amazing... and I never looked back!!!

    I always felt that any 'homework' they gave that was not incomplete work from that day was just busy work... or 'lets see if we cant make then jump through hoops' work...

    I also found that Jason tended to finish his work completely at school on the day assigned MORE often than when they would issue incomplete or 'extra' worksheets ... which I thought was weird but whatever... LOL