I love working with students with multiple disabilities. However, when our students have a lot of needs in the area of speech and language, it can be difficult to determine exactly what to work on in order to get the most “bang for your buck”. Of course we want our therapy goals to be functional. We want the skills our students are learning to be carried over into their special education rooms, regular education rooms, at home, and even out on the playground. I’m sure we’ve all been educated on writing functional IEP goals. However, when I try to follow the “format” for writing functional goals, I often feel like I just end up with a really wordy IEP goal. We want to make our students more effective communicators, and I am not sold that adding more words to their IEP goals like “during structured and unstructured activities” or “in order to better communicate with their teachers and peers” is the way to do that. I think what is much more important is our goal selection. What specific, measurable goal can we write that will have the most profound impact on the child’s overall communication. Here are a few IEP goals that I find to have a domino effect on increasing students’ overall communicative effectiveness followed by just a few of the reasons WHY I find them to be so functional.
- Sequencing Goals: “Child A will sequence 4 pictures to tell or retell a story in 3 of 4 opportunities.” Sequencing is important for: reading (stories have a beginning, middle, and an end), writing , activities of daily living (first you put on your socks, then you put on your shoes), and play (first the puppy gets sick, then it goes to the vet).
- WH Question Goals: “Child A will answer all forms of WH questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) with 80% accuracy.” Answering questions is important for: participating in small and large group activities within all school environments, reading (comprehension), test taking (you can’t show what you know if you don’t know what you’re being asked), and social skills (conversations center around asking and answering questions).
- Narrative Language Goals: “Child A will tell/retell a story to include the following components in 3 of 4 opportunities: characters, setting, sequential events, dialogue, internal response (thoughts/emotions).” Narrative language is important for: reading, writing, social skills (retelling and conversing about past events).
These are not IEP goals I’m recommending you copy and paste into IEPS, but I think they are a good place to start a brainstorming session if you have one of those students you just can’t pinpoint where to go next. These are also great goals to tuck other targets into. If I have a student who struggles with vocabulary their IEP goal might have the phrase “using specific vocabulary” tucked into it. If I have a student who struggles with grammar, the phrase “using age-expected grammatical structures” might be tucked in. When individualized to each child’s specific needs, I have found that these IEP goals can give the most bang for your buck!
I’d love to hear from you! What IEP goals do you feel like give you the most “bang for your buck”?!