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Question: How can the friendship goal be stated and how could it be measured?

This question was submitted in response to the April Ask the Advocate article Preparing for your Next IEP Meeting

Hi Kelly,

Friendship goals per se would be dependent upon age, skills and needs of the child in question. Often times communication skills and behavior inhibit children from developing friendships. So it might be best to have goals that support those skills that will lead to creating friendships. Keep in mind when teaching skills that lead to friendship it is important that they take place in naturally occurring places, like: lunch, recess, and after school programs and activities. The goals also need to be measurable.

An example: Long Term Goal
Child will develop a positive, social relationship with one child form his/her class during lunch and recess; will be observed sitting with and talking to the same child at lunch time on three consecutive days for six weeks; will be observed on the playground engaged in playing with 1 or more of the same children three times each week for six weeks.

A long term goal might also be something like: child gets invited for a play date outside of school, or to a birthday party or sleepover, reports having a good time, and receives a second invitiation. Short term objectives would be related to lunch, recess, group activities, and school sanctioned after school activities. The school cannot really control this long term goal, the short term objectives at school can lead to achieving the long term goal.

In addition to specific goals, you might put friendship under specially designed instruction or supplemental aids and services. You could ask your school to develop a “best buddy” program or a “circle of friends” for your child (you can find specifics on both programs online). Education for the teachers and paraprofessionals in facilitating friendships can be written into the IEP. You could ask for a lunch bunch program where your child chooses several children from his/her class to have lunch with led by the guidance counselor or principal or an appropriate designated adult (could be in the classroom or principals office) 1 or 2 times a week. Here he/she would get to practice social/conversational/turn taking skills while finding children who may have shared interests. In many schools where this is currently happening, it starts out structured and later gives opportunity for the children to lead it. (this should be fun and children should participate because they want to)

There are many websites where you can find IEP Goals specific to friendship or social skills or many other academic goals as well. Click here to visit a great list of goals from the website Speaking of Speech.

I hope this has been helpful, please feel free to write in again with questions.

Kathy L
Ask the Advocate