Independent Living Skills | Checklist | IEP Goals

Transition IEP Goals

We all want our kids to live as independently as possible. Sometimes when I think about it, I kinda can’t believe that my Dad just dropped me off somewhere 150 miles away and expected me to figure it out. They never gave me any instruction, just expected me to learn by watching.

I hafta say, I nailed it as far as the social skills component of college. The other stuff? Not so much. I ate poorly, overdrew my bank account repeatedly and made poor safety decisions. Sure, the argument can be made that I would have done some of that stuff anyway. But, I had the ability to learn these skills, just no one ever taught them to me.

independent living

As your child enters transition age for their IEP, here is a list of skills you can look at and start to form a plan of what needs to be accomplished.

It’s important to remember, and to encourage our kids, that for some of them these skills may not be evident right now. But, that doesn’t mean that they are not attainable. Some kids may not be ready for this until age 20, 25 or even later. And that’s ok.

I’ve had several clients over the years who were not ready for these things by age 17 or 18 and felt defeated by that.

IEP Transition Goals and Objectives

You may look at this list and say, “hey, you said these were IEP transition goals! These are just independent living skills!”

However, it’s easy to form them into transition IEP goals and objectives. To make them measurable, you plug the skill into the formula below.

To make it a goal with objectives, you add the subsets of skills to the main skill.

For example “student will demonstrate independence in completing banking skills necessary for independent living” or something like that. Then, add in the objectives such as creating a budget, explain the concept of saving, demonstrate how to use a check card, demonstrate what to do if card is declined, etc.

IEP goal formula for special education

Independent Living Skills

I compiled this list from numerous lists I saw online to make it more comprehensive. The printable list of independent living skills is at the bottom of the post.

It may seem overwhelming. And, you might be doing some of these skills and tasks for your child. That’s fine! That is what supported living is all about. What’s important is that maximum level of independence is being supported. And that your child is as independent and as safe as possible.

I saw some outdated sentences. Things like referencing payphones and phone books. So I changed those but please let me know if you find another error.

Shopping and Banking Independent Living Skills

  1. Knows values of coins and currency
  2. Can make a transaction at a local store and count change
  3. Has an understanding of the difference between “luxuries” and “necessities” in food, transportation, clothing, housing
  4. Understands the difference between “sale price” and “regular price”
  5. Can identify one way to save money on purchases
  6. Can use a credit/debit card at a store
  7. Can open a checking or savings account
  8. Can write checks/make withdrawals and make deposits
  9. Can record banking transactions (either checking or savings)
  10. Can budget allowance to last for a week.
  11. Shows some understanding of the concept of saving
  12. Understand the difference between gross wage and take-home pay
  13. Can use a calculator to add, subtract, divide and multiply
  14. Can resolve situation at a store if credit/debit card is declined
  15. With assistance can make out a monthly budget covering regular expenses for independent living
  16. Shows some “sales resistance” to “something for nothing” advertising and “low weekly payment” credit plans
  17. Can read monthly bank statements, compare balances, make adjustments as necessary (deduct service charges, check fees, adjust for differences in the balance)
  18. Can comparison shop using unit pricing information
  19. Understands the responsibility of filing tax forms
  20. Knows the information that is required for filing taxes and knows where to go to get assistance in filing taxes
  21. Budgets for unanticipated emergencies, seasonal bills, etc.
  22. Understands buying on credit, loans, interest, and late payment penalties
  23. Understands payroll deductions, taxes, FICA, insurance
  24. Can complete a short tax form
  25. Can balance a checkbook; or demonstrate understanding of staying within balance
  26. Has savings plan or retirement plan, can explain.
  27. Understands how to not overdraw checking account, overuse card
  28. Understands concept of pay periods, pay days, and budgeting/spending within means

Food Shopping and Preparation Life Skills

  1. Washes hands before eating and preparing food
  2. Can order in a cafeteria or restaurant
  3. Can describe food groups and foods that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
  4. Knows name and use of cooking utensils
  5. Can order a meal from the menu in a restaurant
  6. Can fix breakfast for one
  7. Can fix lunch for one
  8. Can fix dinner for one
  9. Can make out a grocery shopping list
  10. Can use cooking utensils effectively and safely (knives, grater, can opener, potato peeler, egg beater, etc.)
  11. Can use kitchen appliances effectively and safely
  12. Can use acceptable table manners
  13. Stores perishable items under refrigeration
  14. Recognizes signs of spoilage in food
  15. Can follow the instructions for preparing canned or frozen foods.
  16. Can plan weekly menu
  17. Can shop for a week’s menu and stay within a food budget
  18. Can carry out a grocery-shopping trip (selecting items on the shopping list and paying the cashier)
  19. Prepares recipes from a cookbook
  20. Can adjust recipes to feed more or less people than called for in the recipes
  21. Understands how to use dates on food packages to prevent spoilage
  22. Prepares and eats a reasonably balanced diet (not perfect diet, but not candy bars for dinner either)
  23. Understands and can use unit pricing to comparison shop

Personal Hygiene and ADLs for Independent Living

  1. Can dress self (including underwear, socks, and tied shoes) in a reasonably acceptable fashion.
  2. Can bathe self
  3. Knows how to use soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, other common personal products appropriate to sex.
  4. Brushes teeth regularly.
  5. Showers or bathes regularly.
  6. Keeps hair clean and neat.
  7. Dresses in reasonably clean clothing.
  8. Can read clothing labels and determine which clothes are to be dry cleaned, hand-washed, and machine-washed.
  9. Can sort and machine-wash clothes at a Laundromat using appropriate temperatures, amounts of soap, bleach, etc.
  10. Can dry clothes in a dryer using appropriate settings.
  11. Knows the cost of and can budget money for special hair and nail care (i.e., permanents, braiding, manicures, etc.).
  12. Can iron clothes (does anyone still do this? I left it in anyway)
  13. Can sew on buttons and make minor clothing repairs (or knows not to wear torn/damaged clothes)
  14. Can hand wash items following the instructions on the label.
  15. Knows appropriate clothing to wear for almost all occasions.
  16. Knows approximate cost of dry cleaning and can arrange for dry cleaning.

Personal Health and Medications Living Skills

Managing medication is a big one! I would make that a priority if independent living is a goal on your IEP.

  1. Can open childproof container.
  2. Knows not to take someone else’s medication.
  3. Knows that drugs, alcohol, and tobacco may be harmful to your health.
  4. Knows parts of the body and sexual functioning.
  5. Knows how pregnancy occurs.
  6. Knows how and where to get emergency health care.
  7. Can recognize and describe symptoms of colds, flu, and other common health problems.
  8. Knows what to do for a minor cut, a minor burn, a splinter.
  9. Understands the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  10. Understands the risks of drug and alcohol abuse.
  11. Can take own temperature using a thermometer. 
  12. Can nurse self through cold or flu.
  13. Recognizes/makes correct use of “over the counter” drugs for pain, stomach upset, diarrhea, fever, cold/allergy.
  14. Can call a doctor or dentist and schedule an appointment.
  15. Can read a prescription label correctly and follow the instructions.
  16. Can take medication without supervision.
  17. Knows how to dispose of drugs in a safe manner.
  18. Knows how to use what is included in a First Aid Kit.
  19. Knows how to obtain a copy of personal immunization records and medical history.
  20. Knows methods of birth control and how to obtain birth control devices.
  21. Knows how to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
  22. Has selected a doctor, dentist or clinic for regular health care.
  23. Understands the importance of medical insurance.
  24. Is conscious of diet, exercise, good eating habits, and other preventative health measures.
  25. Can determine when to go to an emergency room and when to make an appointment with the family doctor or clinic.
  26. Has obtained medical insurance, understands concept and how to use

Cleaning and Housekeeping IEP Goals

  1. Can wash dishes adequately using soap and hot water.
  2. Can change a light bulb.
  3. Can make a bed.
  4. Knows how to dispose of garbage, and when garbage day is, consequences, etc.
  5. Can use vacuum cleaner properly and change bags.
  6. Can change bed linen.
  7. Knows how to prevent sinks and toilets from clogging.
  8. Knows how to sweep floor and stairs, wash wood and linoleum floors, wash windows, dust, polish furniture, clean toilet, clean bathtub and sink.
  9. Knows appropriate cleaning products to use for different cleaning jobs.
  10. Knows how to stop a toilet from running.
  11. Knows how to use a plunger to unstop a toilet or sink.
  12. Can defrost the refrigerator, if necessary.
  13. Can clean a stove.
  14. Knows how to conserve energy and water.
  15. Perform routine house cleaning to maintain the home in a reasonably clean state.
  16. Uses drawers and closets appropriately for storage.
  17. Knows what repairs a landlord should perform.
  18. Can do minor household repairs.
  19. Is able to contact the landlord and request repairs. 
  20. Can change a fuse or reset a circuit breaker.
  21. Can measure a window for shades or curtains.
  22. Knows how to get rid of and avoid roaches, ants, mice, etc. as well as preventative measures

Renting and Independent Living Skills

  1. Understands the concept of renting.
  2. Knows how to access emergency shelter, and when to do so
  3. Knows where to look for housing opportunities
  4. Understands basic terms (lease, sub-let, utilities, studio, efficiency, security deposit, reference, etc.)
  5. Can calculate the costs associated with different types of housing.
  6. Can describe pros and cons of choosing a roommate.
  7. Can identify type of housing that is within budget and meets current housing needs.
  8. Can calculate “start-up” costs (Utility deposits, connection fees, security deposit, first month’s rent, purchase of furniture and all other household items).
  9. Can complete a rental application.
  10. Can ask the landlord about the available apartment to determine if it meets their needs.
  11. Knows to inspect the apartment to make sure appliances work and that the landlord has supplied accurate information about the apartment and the neighborhood.
  12. Shows some concern for the rights of other residents with regard to property and noise.
  13. Understands the consequences if the rights of other residents are not respected.
  14. Understands the implication of the security deposit. Knows the role of a landlord.
  15. Demonstrates the ability to get along with other residents and the landlord.
  16. Knows how to get help if there is a conflict with the landlord.
  17. Can access emergency assistance for utilities.

Managing Transportation Skills

  1. Aware of consequences of driving without a license and insurance.
  2. Has successfully completed a Driver’s Ed class.
  3. Knows how to call a taxi and provide the information needed.
  4. Knows the approximate cost of using Uber
  5. Can use Uber, understands safety procedures of using rideshares
  6. If given instructions, can make public transportation journey involving several transfers.
  7. Can give directions or address if using rideshare
  8. Can arrange routine transportation to work or school.
  9. Knows what is required to get a driver’s license.
  10. Has driver’s permit.
  11. Can fix a bicycle.
  12. Can read a map.
  13. Knows how to do basic car maintenance.
  14. Can estimate the cost of owning and operating a car for a month/year including tabs and insurance
  15. Has a driver’s license

Educational Transition IEP Goals- Postsecondary

  1. Has a realistic view of his/her chances for completing high school.
  2. If high school graduation is not realistic, understands what a GED is and how to obtain one.
  3. Can fill out forms to enroll in an educational program.
  4. Has a general idea of what education is needed for the job he/she wants.
  5. Can discuss educational/vocational plans with teachers/counselors.
  6. Is aware of educational resources available in the community.
  7. Knows how to obtain school transcripts.
  8. Is aware of current educational credits and standing. 
  9. Has an appropriate educational plan for the job selected.
  10. Understands educational/skill requirements for job selected. Is aware of the cost of higher education/vocational training.
  11. Knows the difference between a loan and a grant.
  12. “Shops around” to find the best educational resources.
  13. Knows where to find and how to access adult education or vocational training in the community.
  14. Knows how to obtain financial aid/scholarships for additional education.
  15. Understands future prospects and probable living standards relative to levels of education and specialized skills.
  16. Is able to identify the connection between course work and vocational goals.
job training

Getting and Keeping a Job- IEP Transition Goals

  1. Can make an appointment for a job interview.
  2. Knows appropriate clothing to wear for the interview.
  3. Can write a resume.
  4. Has a completed job application/fact sheet to take on a job interview.
  5. Knows to prepare for a job interview.
  6. Can complete a job interview.
  7. Knows the function of and can contact the public employment agency.
  8. Knows the function of and understands that private employment agencies charge fees.
  9. Can identify ads placed by private employment agencies.
  10. Can contact temporary employment services.
  11. Has a resume.
  12. Can follow up an interview with a letter.
  13. Is able to maturely weigh the advantages of one job over another.
  14. Understands legal discrimination and where to seek help if discriminated against illegally.
  15. Dresses for work appropriately.
  16. Reports to work on time.
  17. Knows job responsibilities and how to complete job tasks. 
  18. Knows to contact employer when not able to go to work.
  19. Know how to read a pay stub.
  20. Knows appropriate way to talk to a supervisor.
  21. Knows what behaviors will get a person fired immediately.
  22. Knows how to ask for help with a problem on the job.
  23. Knows if eligible for sick time, vacation time, or personal time. 
  24. Knows what a grievance procedure is.
  25. Know what to do to get a raise.
  26. Knows where and when not to talk with co-workers.
  27. Has a plan for handling anger when angry at supervisor, co-workers, or customers.
  28. Can implement anger management plan in majority of cases.
  29. Knows how to use company grievance procedure to resolve disagreements.
  30. Knows companies “unwritten policies” and can function within them.
  31. Knows how to ask for a raise.
  32. Knows what to do to be eligible for promotion.
  33. Knows legal rights as an employee.

Daily Living Skills-Safety

  1. Knows functions of police, ambulance, and fire department.
  2. Can reach each by calling the appropriate number. 
  3. Is trained to evacuate the residence in case of fire.
  4. Knows proper way of disposing of smoking materials, if smokes. 
  5. Knows how to lock and unlock doors and windows.
  6. Knows how to check smoke alarm and how to replace the battery.
  7. Understands basic fire prevention (No smoking in bed, using a gas stove to heat, excessive use of extension cords, frayed electrical cords, etc.).
  8. Knows how to use a fire extinguisher.
  9. Knows that improperly used appliances can cause fires.
  10. Can recognize the smell of a gas leak.
  11. Knows what to do, and whom to call if she/he smells a gas leak.
  12. Knows the different methods for putting out different kinds of fires.
  13. Knows how to properly store cleaning materials.
  14. Can usually determine when professional medical help is needed.
  15. Has completed First Aid training.
  16. Has completed CPR training.

Community Participation IEP Goals

  1. Knows how to get emergency information by telephone.
  2. Knows whom to contact if injured or sick.
  3. Knows where nearest supermarket or shopping district is located.
  4. Knows how to access emergency food and shelter.
  5. Knows how to access crisis line.
  6. Knows where nearest Laundromat is located.
  7. Knows where their personal bank is located.
  8. Can use the internet to obtain information. 
  9. Knows the location of nearest post office and how to use it.
  10. Knows whom to contact if utilities disconnected, or heat goes out.
  11. Knows where and how to register for selective service.
  12. Knows where the nearest state employment office is located.
  13. Can obtain a copy of birth certificate and a duplicate social security card.
  14. Has awareness of “specialized” resources: mental health counseling, consumer counseling, clinics, student aid offices, tenant groups, animal control, public recreation, etc.
  15. Knows who elected representatives are and how to contact them.
  16. Has obtained a library card.
  17. Can respond to introductions and answer simple questions.
  18. Can identify one friend.
  19. Can make “small talk” (face to face), or respond appropriately (not ignoring when acknowledged)
  20. Communicates with at least one person weekly.
  21. Can make introductions, including approaching others to introduce self.
  22. Is aware of boundary issues.
  23. Is not harmful to others.
  24. Can ask for help.
  25. Can explain feelings.
  26. Understands what oversharing is and how to refrain
  27. Can identify relationships that may be hurtful or dangerous.
  28. Can identify personal strengths and needs (with assistance if necessary).
  29. Accepts invitations from others to be involved in social activities.
  30. Make arrangements with peers for social activities.
  31. Knows where to get help if unable to resolve interpersonal conflicts alone.
  32. Has some ability to resolve conflicts with others.
  33. Refrains from physical violence as a means of solving interpersonal conflict.
  34. Has practiced how to say “no” to a peer who is trying to persuade him/her to do something wrong.
  35. Can develop a realistic plan with appropriate steps identified to achieve goals.
  36. Can carry out plans with some assistance provided.
  37. Can describe the “best possible” outcome if the goal is achieved and the “worst possible” outcome if the goal is not achieved.
  38. Can describe the relationship between actions and consequences.
  39. Has “good” table manners (can use knife, fork, spoons, napkin appropriately so as not to be ostracized)
  40. Avoids hurtful or dangerous relationships.
  41. Labels and expresses anger or other strong feelings appropriately, “talks out” problems.
  42. Has demonstrated the ability to say “no” to peers.
  43. Can develop and carry out a personal plan for goal achievement without supervision.
  44. Can anticipate, with limited input from others, what consequences might be associated with different choices.
  45. Knows when and how to thank others
  46. Can close a relationship or say “goodbye” in a healthy manner.
  47. Has the phone number of someone to call if arrested or victimized.
  48. Understands generally what actions are against the law and what the consequences are.
  49. Knows personal rights if arrested.
  50. Knows what the function of a lawyer is and how to contact one
  51. Knows legal age for buying alcohol and tobacco products.
  52. Understands the meaning of “legal age” in legal terms (what you can do, what you cannot do).
  53. Knows how to read a contract.
  54. Has understanding of POA or guardianship process. 
  55. Knows how and where to register to vote.
  56. Knows where and when to vote
  57. Knows the responsibility to register for selective service
  58. Aware of the availability of free legal services.
  59. Understands the consequences of signing a contract or a lease.
  60. Show good citizenship and an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of a citizen.
  61. Is registered to vote.
  62. Knows where to go to vote.
  63. Knows the difference between “felony”, “misdemeanor”, and “violation”.
  1. Buying, possessing, selling, and smoking marijuana and other drugs
  2. Buying and drinking beer and alcohol underage
  3. Trespassing Shoplifting Burglary
  4. Possession of stolen property Traffic violations

Sexual Relationships IEP Goals for Transition

If you’re looking for some resources on discussing sexuality with your disabled child, I have a separate post on that.

  1. Knows resources for birth control. 
  2. Knows the location of family planning office. 
  3. Knows options for birth control.
  4. Knows options for pregnancy.
  5. Knows dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco during pregnancy.
  6. Knows what adequate prenatal care is.
  7. Knows where to obtain prenatal care. 
  8. Knows not to leave child without supervision.
  9. Can provide appropriate supervision for child. 
  10. Is comfortable being alone with child.
  11. Knows how to bathe child and change diapers.
  12. Knows how to access community resources (WIC, PHN).
  13. Knows how to engage a child in appropriate play (reading, singing, drawing, building things, etc.).
  14. Knows the available options for regular childcare.
  15. Selects appropriate people to periodically babysit with the child. 
  16. Knows where to go for help if child is sick.
  17. Can select toys appropriate for child’s age and developmental level.
  18. Can discipline without using extreme measures (hitting, screaming, withholding necessary food or care).
  19. Can make arrangements for regular childcare.
  20. Takes child to childcare on time.
  21. Picks child up from childcare on time.
  22. Spends “quality” time with child each day (talking, playing together, listening to the child, etc.).
  23. Knows where to go for help with parenting.
  24. Knows what behaviors are appropriate for the child’s age and developmental level.
  25. Knows the costs and benefits of each child care arrangement available.

Printable List of Independent Living Skills

Here is the printable list of Independent Living Skills. It is a work in progress, so check back often. But I didn’t want to delay in getting it out there for you.


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