The goals of speech therapy are what drives the child’s progress and determine the course of therapy. With this being said, it is quite clear that writing great speech therapy goals matters more than people think.
The goals are important for each participant in the therapy as you all get a chance to measure the success and exude motivation when the set objectives are achieved. But what if that doesn’t happen? What if you set the bar too high?
That’s exactly why the goal-setting process is a delicate matter that demands full attention. Hopefully, the following tips will provide you some clarification on what you should focus on if you wish to write excellent speech therapy goals.
Assess Child’s Situation and Assign Goals Accordingly
Talk with the child about skills that matter to them. Getting a grasp of what they find important and what are their communicative needs can help you prioritize goals for each child’s case.
For example, if the family wants to see improvement in the school setting, look into the child’s tests from schools, and compare them with the SLP assessment results. Drive information about the child’s speech challenges from various sources to pinpoint their most important communication issues and needs.
When it comes to older children, have an open talk with them that will address their personal priorities and desires.
While children may have similar speech disabilities, their needs and life settings aren’t the same. Therefore, the goals need to be personalized for each and every one of them.
Determine the Time Frame
A time frame is necessary for encouraging the child to push through their insecurities and unwillingness and keep up with the goals.
Based on your assessment and goals that lie ahead, set a time frame for each goal as well as for overall therapy. For example, you can write goals that can be achieved within two weeks but also plan to reach the ultimate therapy goal within a year.
“What’s essential when it comes to time is to be realistic. Rather than impressing children with improbable goals or dreaming of speedy progress, do your research to set an attainable time frame,” says a speech therapist and contributor writer at BestEssaysEducation, Samantha Partridge.
The problem with short time frames that make goals harder to reach is that they can demotivate the child or put too much pressure on him. You want the goal’s time frame to inspire the child to reach for bigger and better improvements, not to hold him back.
Be As Specific as Possible
Determining the goal as “the child will improve his expressive skills” doesn’t say much. Which expressive skills? Over what course of time? With the help of which methods?
Once you have a clear perspective of the child’s situation and what he or the family want as the outcome, you need to polish it up.
For example, for younger children, you might need to add more visual tools like Subjecto flashcards or encourage more writing in addition to speaking. Specify such details within each goal.
Also, the use of technology in speech therapy has become more popular. If you plan to implement some additional methods such as telepractice in speech therapy, make sure to write that down within the goal.
Overall, whatever props or cues you plan to use for each goal, include it in the goal-setting process.
Your long-term goals don’t demand such accuracy but detailed short-term goals are what will keep both you and the child focused on achieving it.
Specify the Context within Which You’ll Measure the Goal
The assessment of a child’s progress can be done in different settings.
You can do the assessment in the classroom, therapy, during a conversational speech, and so on. The outcome of the goal will differ based on the setting, so you need to be specific about which setting will be most suitable for each goal.
Depending on the type of skill the child needs to master, adapt the context to help the child test out their progress in the best possible way. You want to challenge them as that will realistically showcase whether the goal is met or not.
Define How You’ll Measure Progress
How will you assess whether the goal has been mastered? Will you use percentage, or will you base it on given opportunities? For example, the child can succeed in 4 out of 6 trials in 3 consecutive opportunities.
Decide in advance on what is the best way to measure the progress. Try to use the same approach for each goal (if possible) to make tracking the results easier and consistent for the child.
You also want to count in the accuracy. The goal can be that the child repeats “r” in medial multisyllabic words within sentences with 80% accuracy and minimal verbal clues.
Taking accuracy into account will give you more control over how you measure progress and what the child needs to work on more.
Match One Goal Per One Issue
Take one step at a time and assign one challenge per goal. That will ensure that your focus is sternly locked in on one issue rather than scattered over different issues that the child needs to overcome.
For example, reading single velar final words to increase the ability to communicate should be one goal. Producing 6 or more words per breath is another one.
If some skills intertwine, you can put them within one goal, but ultimately, try to dissect the issues, separate the goals, and work on them one by one.
This will help the child feel less overwhelmed as they have to battle with one specific issue within each goal. Don’t forget that you want the goals to seem attainable to children, and this is the way to do it.
Every child is unique, and speech therapy goals should reflect that. However, there are some general writing tips such as these that can help you narrow down what you need to focus on. With a clear focus and set goals, speech therapy can be something that children look forward to. Achieving those goals can give them wind beneath their wings to invest more and do better in their speech therapy.