For a long time, as I worked with clients, we fought the battle to get a child an IEP for ADHD rather than just the 504 accommodations for ADHD that the schools were offering.

After all, ADHD is listed as Other Health Impairment (OHI) in IDEA. Clearly, those who wrote IDEA did not intend for students with ADHD to only ever have just 504 plans. While a 504 plan for ADHD is sufficient for some, others needs the specially designed instruction (SDI) that comes with an IEP.

But now it seems we have some new hurdles. I often get asked “What are some IEP goals for ADHD?” IEPs are needs-driven, not diagnosis driven. And much like other neurological differences, students with ADHD do not all present the same characteristics.

high school student with adhd
With the right supports and services, students with ADHD can be successful.

There are many commonly seen skill deficiencies and characteristics that accompany ADHD.

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are a legal document that outlines the educational goals and services that a student with a disability or learning difference requires to make progress in school.

For students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), creating appropriate IEP goals and objectives can provide support and resources for their unique needs. These goals can help students with ADHD improve their academic performance, social skills, and overall well-being.

Understanding ADHD is crucial for creating effective IEP goals. ADHD is a neurological condition that may affect an individual’s ability to sustain attention, control impulses, and regulate behavior. Students with ADHD may struggle with organization, time management, and completing tasks.

They may also have difficulty with social interactions and emotional regulation. By understanding the challenges that students with ADHD face, educators can create meaningful and measurable goals that address their specific needs.

Setting IEP goals for ADHD requires collaboration between parents, teachers, and other professionals. It is important to monitor and adjust goals regularly to ensure that they are helping the student make progress.

Additionally, parents and professionals should be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to IEPs. By working together, parents and educators can create a supportive environment that helps students with ADHD thrive.

iep goals for adhd
IEP goals for ADHD should be challenging but attainable with support.

Understanding ADHD

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects both children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

These symptoms can significantly impact an individual’s ability to function in daily life, including in academic or work settings.

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ADHD is a common disorder, affecting approximately 6-9% of children and 5% of adults worldwide. It is more prevalent in males than females, with a male-to-female ratio of about 3:1. While the exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, research suggests that it may be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There are three types of ADHD: inattentive type, hyperactive-impulsive type, and combined type. Inattentive type ADHD is characterized by symptoms such as difficulty paying attention, being easily distracted, and forgetfulness.

Hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD is characterized by symptoms such as fidgeting, restlessness, impulsivity, and difficulty waiting for one’s turn. Combined type ADHD is a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.

It is important to note that individuals with ADHD may also experience other co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities. It is crucial to address these conditions in addition to ADHD to provide comprehensive treatment and support.

By recognizing the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals with ADHD, educators and clinicians can provide effective support and resources to help them succeed.

IEP Goals for ADHD

Remember that IEPs are needs-driven, not diagnosis driven. The key to proper IEP goals is the right assessments.

Not every child with ADHD lacks social skills. I am providing these as a sample, and you can always look in our IEP goal bank for more ideas.

Here are some examples of Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals that can be used for students with ADHD:

  1. Goal: Increase attention and focus skills.
    • Objective 1: The student will maintain focus on a given task or activity for a minimum of 15 minutes without distractions, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.
    • Objective 2: The student will follow multi-step directions without needing repeated prompts or reminders in at least 80% of opportunities, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.
  2. Goal: Improve organization and time management skills.
    • Objective 1: The student will independently use a planner or organizational tool to record assignments, due dates, and other important information for all subjects in at least 4 out of 5 school days, as measured by teacher review of the planner.
    • Objective 2: The student will demonstrate improved time management by completing assigned tasks within given time limits in at least 80% of opportunities, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.
  3. Goal: Enhance self-regulation and impulse control.
    • Objective 1: The student will identify and implement at least three strategies to manage impulsive behaviors in various settings (e.g., classroom, playground) with guidance from a teacher or counselor, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.
    • Objective 2: The student will demonstrate improved self-regulation by engaging in a calming or self-control technique (e.g., deep breathing, taking a break) when feeling overwhelmed or restless, in at least 4 out of 5 situations, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.
  4. Goal: Develop social skills and positive peer interactions.
    • Objective 1: The student will actively participate in group discussions, taking turns and listening attentively to others’ ideas, in at least 3 out of 4 opportunities, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.
    • Objective 2: The student will demonstrate improved conflict resolution skills by using appropriate strategies (e.g., compromise, verbal expression of feelings) during disagreements with peers, in at least 80% of observed instances, as measured by teacher observation and documentation.

You can also take a look at these lists of IEP goals. Most of these are often tied to ADHD and other similar learning disabilities.

Remember that IEP goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

These examples can serve as a starting point, but it’s important to tailor the goals to the individual needs and abilities of each student with ADHD.

Additionally, involving the student, their parents or guardians, and any relevant specialists or professionals can help in developing appropriate and effective goals.

Remember, always question anything your gut tells you to. A simple “Can you show me where it says that in the state regulations?”