How to Use Assessment to Develop Functional Language Goals

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Observe in the natural environment (home or classroom)

1. Look for challenging behaviors, what are they trying to communicate?

  • Write goals to use some sort of communication to meet that need instead of resorting to challenging behaviors

2. How do their communication problems limit their access to learning or participating in activities?

  • What could a typically-developing child do during an activity that this child cannot due to communication barriers?  Write goals to use some sort of communication to access learning or participate in activities

3. Look for the common functional language skills and determine what level the child is currently functioning at for each one.  Write a goal for the child to use the next most complex level of that skill

  • Requesting: Cry, gesture, point, single word (AAC or speech), phrase, sentence
  • Answering Questions: No response, gestural/nonverbal, single word, phrase, sentence
  • Asking Questions: No asking, looking inquisitive and pointing (gestural), single word with rising intonation, phrase, sentence
  • Following Directions: Not following, following familiar one-step, following novel one-step, following two-step (familiar then novel), following three-step
  • Social Skills: Parallel play, shared materials (each has own), taking turns, working together, etc.