Intensive ABA Services
By Vincent J. LaMarca, M.A., BCBA
Lovaas Institute – Indianapolis
The April 2007 issue of Meeting Point discussed some common requests from parents who have attended IEP meetings. One of the requests was for clear, measurable IEP objectives. While this may seem obvious, writing IEP goals for children with autism can present some unique challenges. For example, many children with autism demonstrate difficulty with generalization. They may be able to identify one picture of a dog but not other pictures of dogs. If the IEP includes an objective that the child will identify 10 new labels, does the child's ability to identify one picture of a dog count towards mastery of the goal or not? Children with autism also exhibit delays in language. If the IEP includes an objective that the child will demonstrate reading comprehension by answering who, what and where questions, will questions only be asked about people, places, and things that are already familiar to the child?
Below are two examples of general IEP objectives. By answering a few key questions, these objectives can be written to specifically address the desired response and goal. These questions include:
Answers to the above questions can lead to a wide variety of specific objectives. In each of the rewritten versions below, I have underlined several key words that demonstrate my answers.
REWRITE: Bryce will receptively identify 20 actions 80% of the time, using specific picture cards in a field of 6 pictures.
REWRITE: Bryce will expressively identify the action when shown a novel picture of each action, for a total of 10 actions.
REWRITE: At least once a day, Bryce will spontaneously identify an action that he is performing (e.g., "I'm eating..." during lunchtime, "I colored my...." during arts and crafts, etc.).
REWRITE: Bryce will make a spontaneous verbal request for 2 new actions at least once a week (e.g., "up," "push," "spin," etc.).
The ambiguity of the English language, as well as specific deficits in children with autism, can make it difficult to clearly write exactly what IEP objective is desired for the coming school year. Thinking about the behavior, stimuli, and type of response required of a child can help you clarify the objective as you write. Another way to clarify what the IEP objective specifies is to give parents an example of how the objective will be taught or tested. The more specific the objective and the more information shared with everyone responsible for meeting the goal, the more likely everyone will have the same expectations for the coming year.
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The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.
Aladdin's Magic Carpet! Put the child on a towel or blanket and pull them across the floor.
Jump! Sing, "Jump" by Van Halen and jump when the song tells you to.
I'm Shocked! Fall completely over with surprise and shock that the child answered the question correctly.
Car Ride! Line your chairs up next to each other and go for a car ride. Put seat belts on. Check left and right for traffic, beep the horn, etc.
Monster Palm! Draw a monster on your palm. Use the other hand to hold the wrist of monster palm so it can't get you. However, we all know a monster palm is stronger. Elicit the child's help to get rid of monster palm.