Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Outline of strengths & challenges for teacher meeting

Here is a one-pager that I shared with Bearhug's Pre-K teacher at a teacher meeting early in the school year. I created it to help frame up our discussion around Bearhug's strengths and challenges, and some things about autism / sensory issues to be aware of that would help her work with Bearhug more effectively.

I'm posting it here in case it helps gives other parents ideas for their own summary that could be used for parent-teacher discussions where appropriate.

Sources: Some of these are my own, others are adapted from a number of online sources, which I pulled together and tailored specifically to Bearhug's needs at the time. (It's been 4 years so I apologize, I can't remember the specific sources or I'd post links).


Strengths to be aware of:
• ‘Bearhug’ is very sweet-natured and tries really hard to do what he knows he is supposed to do.
• He loves to learn
• He has an excellent memory for numbers and visual things (he remembers even minute details of places he’s been, he can find his way around our town and nearby towns by sight)
• ‘Bearhug’ is usually good at sharing and is good at puzzles

Suggestions to help ‘Bearhug’ organize himself, learn effectively, and interact appropriately:
• Be positive and patient – understand that he IS trying very hard and encourage him
• Note strengths often and in a visual/physical way (he doesn’t always respond to verbal praise)
• He may need help with problem-solving situations, please be willing to take the time to help
• If an activity requires groups, please assign or use some arbitrary means of grouping to avoid him being left out
• Avoid verbal overload – keep directions short and simple, and/or use visual cues
• If he has difficulty learning a task, break it down into smaller steps or present in several different ways (visually, verbally, physically).

Areas of difficulty and suggestions to help:
• Transitions – having a picture schedule and some “prep” for an upcoming transition may help
• Routines – please try to give as much advance notice as possible if there will be any changes
• Social situations – he wants to make friends but doesn’t always know how to go about it
• At times, he may experience “meltdowns” when nothing may help behavior. At times like this, please allow a “safe and quiet spot” where he can calm down. Try to take note of what occurred before the meltdown, and it’s best to talk after the situation has calmed down.
• When you see anger or other outbursts, this is often a “fight/fright/flight” reaction. Prevention can sometimes head off situations if you see the warning signs coming.
• An increase in unusual or difficult behaviors probably indicate an increase in stress. Sometimes stress is caused by feeling a loss of control. Many times the stress will only be alleviated when he physically removes himself from the stressful event or situation.

Important things to be aware of:
• Many of his behaviors are NOT under his control and not a result of willful misbehavior. Usually misbehavior is the result of efforts to survive experiences which may be confusing, disorienting, or frightening.
• He is easily overstimulated and has difficulty filtering through sensory input, which makes him easily distracted. Too much sensory input with lots of other kids, chaos and noise can also stress him out so he may need a quiet place he can go to “take a break.”
• Sitting still for long periods of time can be very difficult, allowing him to move around, even for short intervals, will help him stay focused
• Often he can listen better if he’s not looking directly at you – lack of eye contact doesn’t mean he’s not paying attention
• Just because he learns something in one situation he doesn’t automatically mean that he remembers or is able to generalize the learning to new situations.
• If he covers his ears, this could indicate that a certain sound hurts his ears. He also sometimes does this when he’s afraid of something.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pre-Academic / Play Skills

Play is the "work" of preschoolers, as it helps them learn and helps them develop pre-skills that they will need to build on later as they start learning academic skills. For that reason, it's not uncommon for children to have play-related IEP goals especially in a preschool setting.

IEP goals relating to pre-academic / play skills:

1. Imitate functional play demonstrated by an adult using a variety of toys for their intended purpose in a variety of settings (housekeeping, blocks, transportation, etc.) with visual model or verbal prompt at least twice a day for 2 minutes.

2. Engage in functional play using a variety of toys for their intended purpose in a variety of settings with verbal prompt at least twice a day for 3 minutes.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Personal / Social Goals

IEP goals relating to personal / social skills:

***newly added items starting with #19***

1. transition from one activity to another in his/her classroom, including non-preferred activities, independently.

2. attend to a teacher-directed activity for 3-5 minutes with no more than two verbal reminders

3. follow directions related to daily routine with verbal and visual cues (such as clean up or line up)

4. stay with a group during large and small group activities (to include meals, walking within the school and play groups) with two reminders for 3-5 minutes

5. play alongside one or two peers for 15 minutes independently

6. imitate simple play schemes modeled by an adult or peer

7. add 2-3 logical events to ongoing play with peers.

8. interact with peers in play.

9. work in collaborative groups with peers in his class.

10. listen to and speak in informal conversations with peers and adults.

11. initiate interactions with peers.

12. independently demonstrate attention to group activities by participating, answering questions or recalling 2-3 events of an activity.

13. participate in cooperative groups with peers with adult facilitation.

14. initiate interactions / play with peers with adult facilitation.

15. follow the classroom routine (to include transitions to non-preferred activities) with one verbal reminder.

16. participate in role-playing opportunities in the classroom (i.e. acting out stories, puppets, etc.) with adult facilitation.

17. play with one or two peers sharing a common set of materials.

18. take on a familiar role in sociodramatic play with adult facilitiation.

19. remain with the group during transitions throughout the school day and across all school environments with fewer than 3 prompts (to include any of the following: physical guidance, gestural prompts, and visual or verbal prompt)

20. with physical assistance, participate in simple reciprocal play with a peer for at least 2 consecutive turns (with verbal prompts from an adult) such as rolling a car / ball back and forth, taking turns to put shapes in a shape sorter, at least twice a day.

21. participate by attending to non-preferred activities with physical assistance, visual cues, and/or verbal prompting for a minimum of 30 seconds 2 times per day.

22. during classroom proceedings, indicate wants / needs / choices to an adult by using words, signs, or pictures when provided a model, and physical pronmpts as needed, at least two times a day.

23. play with one or two peers sharing a common set of materials.

24. initiate play with a peer with adult facilitation.

25. take on a familiar role in sociodramatic play with adult facilitation.

26. demonstrate attention to group activities by answering questions about activities or story or by recalling 2-3 events of activity.

27. transition from preferred to non-preferred activity with one verbal reminder.

Speech / Language Goals

IEP goals relating to speech / language development:

1. initiate interactions with peers and adults to gain attention, make requests, or relate information.

2. engage in give and take of rudimentary conversation, maintaining topic without perseveration, for at least two exchanges.

3. identify and express basic descriptive (big/little, hot/cold) and spatial concepts (under, in front of, in, on, out, off)

4. follow two-step related and unrelated commands in a variety of structured settings.

5. express prepositions (on, under, off, behind)

6. express possessive marker 's' appropriately.

7. answer 'wh' questions about immediate and recently occurring events with picture cues.

8. use early conversation devices, using eye contact, maintaining joint attention for at least two exchanges.

9. use the pronoun "I" to refer to himself / herself appropriately.

10. initiate verbal interaction with peers.

11. maintain conversational topic with partner for 3 exchanges.

12. express age expected morpho-syntactical structures such as auxiliary verbs, copulas (forms of 'be'), and possessive markers.
(umm... maybe some of our SLP friends can help translate that one for us? I'm sure they explained it to us at the time but it's been a while)

Articulation skills

IEP goals relating to articulation skills:

1. participate in oral motor exercises to improve muscle strength, coordination, and control

2. improve intelligibility of connected speech and thematic vocabulary by producing developmentally appropriate sounds (p, b, m, t, d) and increasing oral movement.

Fine Motor Skills

IEP goals relating to fine motor development:

***newly added items starting with #12***

1. complete two-handed activities such as stringing beads, stabilizing work, unscrewing or screwing lid.

2. imitate simple lines and shapes with a variety of mediums.

3. cut paper in half with scissors.

4. use a tripod grasp independently when writing.

5. write the letters of his name, using age appropriate size and formation.

6. write own first and last names with initial capital letters, self-selected words and letters of the alphabet.

7. copy simple shapes, designs, numerals and letters.

8. draw representational pictures (person, house, tree, etc.)

9. copy lines, shapes (circle, triangle, cross, square) and letters of his name in a variety of mediums.

10. draw a person having 6-7 recognizable parts.

11. cut across a piece of paper on a line within 1/4 inch of line.

12. when given paper and a writing utensil, will make a minimum of 3 purposeful marks on the paper.

13. when given a visual model, physical and verbal prompts, imitate vertical and horizontal strokes.

14. hold writing instrument with fingers in tripod position.

15. copy lines, shapes (circle, triangle, cross, square) and letters of his name in a variety of mediums.

16. draw a person having 6-7 recognizable parts.

17. cut across a piece of paper on a line.

Academic Skills

IEP goals relating to developing academic skills:

***newly added items starting with #5***

1. demonstrate the concepts of one and one more through objects and actions.

2. give or select three objects.

3. add two logical events to on-going play.

4. match objects by two attributes such as color and shape.

5. point to, retrieve or touch 20 objects or pictures of common objects when presented with a command or question (ie. "touch X, where is X?") given a choice of two and a physical prompt, within the classroom setting / natural environment.

A note on mastery of objectives

It is important that IEP objectives, like any other goals, be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART). Part of making the goals measurable is identifying how "mastery" of the objective will be defined.

Mastery criteria might take the form of:
- 4 out of 5 over 3 data collections
- 90% accuracy
- 85% intelligibility by XX date
- 50% over a 9 week period

Recent Posts


I've started adding IEP goals here, will continue to add more as time permits. These are all from our own IEP's, intended to be used as reference for other families who may be working to develop IEP goals for their own children.

I decided to group them by focus area, you can use the drop-down menu under "topics" or search to find specific areas of interest.

Some goals are similar to others, but represent a progression over time (ie. with adult facilitation, independently, etc.).

If this is helpful, or not helpful, or if you have any suggestions, feel free to email me at:
3runningincircles [at] gmail [dot] com


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.



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