This is a question that I hear often from friends and readers. They often ask if I have any suggestions for self-advocacy or self determination goals that they can add to their IEP. It’s commonly known that our kids often struggle with asking for help. And, asking for help is a common self advocacy goal found on IEPs. But there are many other things that a student can work on as well. Time marches on whether we want it to or not…so we do have to prepare our kids for independence and life on their own–as scary a thought as that is sometimes. So I am compiling a list of 35 measurable self advocacy and self determination goals for an IEP or special education.
Many people, both parents and educators, are intimidated by adding goals like these because they can be a bit more challenging to measure. Or at least that is the perception. It can actually be quite easy to measure, all you have to do is add a quantity. If a child has a behavior plan as part of their IEP, then it is absolutely necessary that they have self-advocacy goals–you cannot stay on a behavior plan forever, or have adults intervening and removing your antecedents when they can. A student needs to be able to self-identify their antecedents, predict them and have an action plan of acceptable coping skills.
But do not shy away from doing these types of goals because you are afraid they are not measurable. For example:
- Given the school lunch menu, I will select between the two options available that day in 4 out of 5 trials.
- Given five elective class options, I will select one class per semester for my schedule.
- Given a challenging situation to solve, I will define the problem and come up with at least two possible solutions to the problem in four out of five trials.
You can see more specific examples like the ones above here: self determination tool kit
What is self determination?
This is how Google defines Self Determination: “the process by which a person controls their own life.”
I can only imagine how exhausting and disheartening and deflating it must be to be some of our kids. People always talking about you, your faults, your disabilities, your short comings, your negative behaviors. Telling you what you need to do…how often do we let them participate in the process? A child should participate in their IEP process from the earliest age possible that it is appropriate.
Self determination is often talked about at transition time, but not much outside of that. And that’s a mistake! When our kids leave the school system or leave the home, they don’t miraculously develop the ability to self-advocate. This is something that should be worked on and weaved in and out of everything.
Self Determination Skills
A child or student who has sufficient self-advocacy and self-determination skills should be able to exhibit the following:
- Goal setting and attainment
- Self awareness
It’s also essential that you and your child have a vision and that it is the same vision and that they have participated in developing the vision. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know what to advocate for?
Measurable Self determination and self advocacy goals for an IEP
For some of the self determination and self advocacy goals below, I listed an idea in parentheses of how to make it measurable. You will need to add specifics to meet the specific needs of the child. Yes–doing this in real life, real time, successfully, that is the goal. But, if your child isn’t at mastery level yet, it may be a staged setting. It may be a scripted conversation. That is the part of the goal that the IEP team will have to determine–what the skill set is now.
- Co-lead annual review and help develop IEP goals.
- Communicate academic strategies or compensation skills that work best for him/her.
- Demonstrate appropriate skills in asking for a curriculum modification and will negotiate the modification with some adult cuing.
- Demonstrate appropriate skills in asking for help at appropriate times.
- Demonstrate appropriate skills in asking for modification independently.
- Demonstrate appropriate skills in knowing when or how to ask for help.
- Demonstrate knowledge of community resources. (list 3)
- Demonstrate knowledge of strengths, weaknesses, personal learning style and their applications in daily school, community life and career options.
- Demonstrate understanding of Rehabilitation Act 504 (for students attending college)
- Demonstrate understanding of the goals on the IEP. (read over with them and discuss)
- Demonstrate understanding of what a learning disability (or other condition if appropriate) is and able to communicate to others how he/she learns best.
- Demonstrate understanding of what their learning disability is and communicate to others what he/she needs to learn successfully.
- Describe personal strengths accurately
- Evaluate effectiveness of their learning strategies and make modifications as needed.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of learning strategies and make appropriate modifications
- Evaluate the effectiveness of learning strategies and make modifications as needed.
- Explain the kind of help needed for a situation. (set the stage for weekly situations)
- Identify a strategy for approaching a learning task (self-monitoring skills will not be in place at this time).
- Identify and communicate academic strategies or compensation skills that work best for him/her.
- Identify one or two curriculum modifications (I need to have more time to complete work, I need to have directions written on the board)
- Identify one or two environmental needs (I need to sit in the front of the class, I need a quiet place to work)
- Identify one or two learning strategies that they use.
- Identify specific curriculum modifications that are in the IEP and why they are needed (My listening skills are not as strong, so I will need anote taker)
- Identify specific environmental modifications and to tell why they are needed.
- Lead annual IEP meetings to help develop goals. (YES! I do know of some kids who do this!! It can be done!)
- Learn how and when to ask for help in the classroom.
- Learn the appropriate skills for negotiating a curriculum modification and will practice these skills in a structured setting.
- List possible antecedents to their own behaviors (“I get upset when…..”) and list possible acceptable alternatives to their negative behavior.
- Make decisions between two or more choices.
- Participate in development of a post secondary plan.
- Participate in goal setting conferences and help to set own goals.
- Participate in school meetings (parent/teacher conference or annual review) and advocate for self with the support of parent and teachers.
- Self identify that they need assistance and know who is appropriate to ask for help and ask for help.
- Share with the classroom teacher that the IEP is a legal document and what kinds of information can be found on the IEP.
- Share work and accept help from an adult (this is a good one for ODD)
More great resources on self advocacy and self determination:
Of course I created an image for Pinterest, please pin and share, thanks!
The goals listed above were compiled from various resources on the internet, reprinted without permission. Link backs given when source was available.