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Sample Speech Therapy Goals for Autism

Instructor: Jocelyn Cherry

Jocelyn has taught Special Education for over two decades and has three post secondary degrees all in the field of Education.

This lesson will discuss the unique speech therapy needs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and provide 15 sample speech therapy annual IEP goals for students with ASD and speech impairment.

Different Needs

Debbie is a speech-language pathologist. Her desk is adorned with trinkets and other paraphernalia that have various catchy speech-language therapy quotes and sayings on them. One day after meeting with a small group and preparing to walk them back to class, a student in the group student with Autism Spectrum Disorder started to ask for some of her 'jam'. The pathologist was perplexed and did not understand what he meant or what he was asking for. When she returned to the room, the pathologist noticed one of her pens had a saying on it: 'Speech therapy is my Jam!'. The student had made a literal connection to the statement on the pen! It was at that point that Debbie realized there is more to speech therapy for a student with ASD than just working on letter sounds.

Scope of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Speech Impairment

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated about 1 in 68 children ages 3-21 have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the year 2014. For these students identified as having ASD, one-third are also identified as having a speech and/or language impairment (SI).

Increased Communication is the Goal!

As a speech-language pathologist, the goal is to increase communication with the student. Some students may have speaking capabilities, some may have some speech skills that are echolalic (immediate repetition of words said by another person or source), and some may not speak at all. Without the ability to communicate, the student cannot express their needs, which can lead to frustration.

The Pivotal Role of Speech-language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are very important for students with ASD because of the communication and social skill deficit areas often associated with the disorder. SLPs can work with a student individually or in a small group setting.

Some students with both ASD and SI may need support because they do not speak at all. Others may need assistance understanding phrases and word usage or learning how to play and get along with others, use gestures to communicate, take turns in a conversation, start or stop a conversation, follow directions, accept new food choices, etc. The needs can vary tremendously.

Considering Augmentative and Alternative Communication Strategies

Augmentative and Alternative Communication strategies (AAC) provide students with the opportunity to express themselves. Any form of communication that is not verbal is considered augmentative alternative communication, e.g. American Sign Language, gestures, picture exchange, and/or the use of devices such as a tablet or speech-enabled laptop.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Gold Star Goals

Goals for speech impairment for the student with ASD/SI should not be written in silos or without the input of other members of the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team. Collaboration and discussion are necessary in order to glean an understanding of the student in all situations in order to create goals that are measurable and attainable. Let's look a few examples:

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