Sample IEP Goals for Students with Autism

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to write annual individualized education program (IEP) goals for students with autism. You'll also find an IEP goal-writing checklist to assist in writing specific goals.

Autism and the IEP

Autism is a disorder with a wide-ranging spectrum, and it affects students who have been diagnosed with it differently. Issues range from social anxiety to the inability to make eye contact or speak. The goals you choose to write will be very specific to each of your students in need of an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), a written document that outlines what special education services a disabled child will receive.


Keep in mind that each IEP goal needs to include the following components:

  • Condition
  • Time frame
  • Accuracy
  • Method of measurement
  • Desired behavior
  • Behavior being replaced. It is not always necessary to include this; this component usually appears when dealing with behaviors that have adverse consequences.

Sample Scenario and Goals: Example 1

Johnny does not like to take turns during social play time. He will often refuse to give up the object needed by the other person. He frequently becomes frustrated while waiting for his turn to come around again during a game.

The following goal would be used for students on the less severe end of the autism spectrum.

IEP goal: When engaging in activities that require turn-taking, Johnny will engage in appropriate turn-taking skills by attending to his peers' turns and waiting for his turn 4 out 5 times, as measured by teacher observations by the end of 36 weeks.

Goal Breakdown

  • Condition: 'When engaging in activities that require turn-taking.'
  • Time frame: 'by the end of 36 weeks.' This is flexible. Johnny might meet this goal in 18 or 27 weeks.
  • Accuracy: '4 out of 5 times.' You could use any ratio that measures progress, such as 2 out of 3 times.
  • Method of measurement: 'As measured by teacher observations' is how the progress to the goal is being measured.
  • Desired behavior: will attend to peers' turns and wait for his turn.
  • The replaced behavior is not needed.

Sample Scenario and Goals: Example 2

Johnny has difficulty transitioning from one activity to another. He will often refuse to stop what he is doing and start another activity. He can become aggressive and will hit himself in the face repeatedly.

The following goal would be used for a more moderate case, but transitioning activities can be very difficult for students with autism.

IEP goal: When Johnny is instructed to transition to a new activity, he will do so without harming himself. He will transition without incident, and with no more than two prompts from the teacher 4 out of 5 times as measured by teacher observations by the end of 36 weeks.

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