Preschool early intervention classrooms should work on measurable goals and objectives outlined by the child's Individual Education Program (IEP). In addition, an Individualized Family Service Program (IFSP) plays an important role in developing goals as well as specific interventions used to reach them.
General Types of Goals for all Children
When a child enters an early intervention program, the family receives an Individualized Family Service Plan that outlines goals and the interventions used to reach those goals. The treatment team may use a Multidisciplinary Evaluation (MDE) if the child qualifies for early intervention services. In the area of abilities and needs, the MDE evaluates:
- Cognitive development
- Communication development
- Social and emotional development
- Physical development
- Adaptive development
The evaluation is a core element to developing goals and objectives for the child's pre-K IEP. When the child enters early intervention (typically two years old), an initial evaluation is completed. Once the child reaches the age of three, a transition to an early intervention preschool begins.
Specific Examples of Pre-Kindergarten IEP Goals
Autism IEP goals are not the same across the board as each student has unique needs and strengths. The following are examples of preschool goals for an autistic student:
- Outcome/goal: Student will use words to interact with adults and peers in the classroom setting to seek help, initiate play, express feelings, and communicate wants or needs during three separate observations. He will be able to answer "wh" questions (who, what, where, when) four out of five trials in the classroom setting over four consecutive observations.
- Outcome/goal: Student will complete non-preferred tasks with needing no more than one prompt, and without displaying negative behaviors over a six week period.
- Outcome/goal: Student will improve fine motor skills so he can use classroom tools, using a three point grasp to hold writing utensils and paintbrushes, and manipulate scissors to cut along a straight or curved line.
Current Level of Performance
Each goal should include a description of the child's current level of performance. For example, goal number one could state, "The student is beginning to use words to communicate wants and needs. He is not answering questions with yes/no consistently without maximal prompting. He is able to label objects, but not when specifically requested."
Teaching Strategies and Measuring Progress
The goals should include specific teaching strategies the teachers and therapists will use to help the child achieve them. For example, goal number one could state, "By reading stories, using drill cards, vocabulary building activities and conversation in the classroom, the student will be asked a variety of questions that require him to relate information. He will be encouraged to use words and sentences in each activity, and will be asked to label objects. The teacher and therapists will ask simple yes/no questions and will incorporate language building activities geared to increasing his communication skills in small group settings."
The team includes data collection strategies used to measure progress outlined in regular reports.
Preparing for Your Preschool Autism IEP Team Meeting
Goals and objectives should be observable and measurable in an autistic child's preschool IEP.
The early intervention IEP (EI IEP) may include:
- Summary of the child's present performance describing how the child's developmental delay affects his or her involvement with activities and routines
- Functional performance
- Preschool academic achievements (colors, shapes, numbers, letters)
- Gross motor and fine motor skills
- Favorite activities
- Special considerations (vision, assistive communication, hearing problems, English as a second language)
These elements help develop specific goals for the EI IEP. The goals are activities, behaviors and skills that the team wants the child to accomplish. They should address the parent's priorities and the child's needs as identified in the evaluation. The goals are functional and measurable so the team can monitor the child's progress.
Transitioning into Kindergarten
The IFSP and pre-K IEP for autistic students play important roles in transitioning into kindergarten. The child's level of functioning determines whether he or she will attend an inclusive typical classroom setting, an autism support or special education class, or a school for children with disabilities. Autism and pre-K IEP goals are integral to the transition plan, and a team meeting that may include the parents, preschool teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and the school district's psychologist.