What are Adaptive imitation goals for IEPs?

adaptive imitation iep goals

What are imitation skills?

Before I share examples for Adaptive imitation IEP goals, we have to start with what they are! When talking about Adaptive IEP goals for autism or special education students or even if you are working with your own little one to foster their early development, imitation is KEY! 

Imitation is as simple as seeing and doing and starts at infancy. Look at any momma, leaning over baby, making coo sounds and smiling. Watch the baby’s response! Attending and imitation! 

Children learn through observing and imitating from parents and caregivers, siblings, eventually peers and teachers and other adults. 

Adaptive imitation goals are mostly motor imitation where the focus is on attending and engaging with a partner. At this early stage, we’re not focusing on verbal output or advanced direction following or anything. It’s the early stage!

Why are imitation goals important?

It’s what we do! We observe, then we try it out, then we get feedback from our environment, then we improve. It’s how we learn.

Imitation is a perfect early or even first goal for the earliest learner because…

  • we learn through observation
  • we watch and learn quickly and efficiently when we practice a skill
  • we use imitation in functional life, social learning, language, behavior skills
  • it demonstrates what we already know 
  • it speeds up learning by going beyond observing to practicing
  • we make connections
  • we coordinate and perfect our attempts

What are IEP goals examples?

Adaptive imitation IEP goals are also great starter goals because you don’t need a lot of equipment! Usually just your sassy self, a good rapport, and maybe some small toys.

When starting imitation goals, I like to do a couple of things first:

  • Built a strong rapport with the student. Play with them, engage in what they’re interested in, and make sure they’re familiar with me.
  • Have a quiet and secluded area, free of distractions. This helps with attending.
  • Have favorite items and reinforcers on hand where I can grab easily but the student can’t see or reach for (so I can quickly reinforce when I want to without distracting).
  • Sit knee-to-knee or very close. This helps with attending and responding the student and keeping them engaged. I don’t ever force a student to stay with me if they want to leave, but if I’m close, and I have their favorite items and an engaging personality, it helps keeps them with me!

 

So let’s get to it! What are some Adaptive imitation IEP goal examples?

Object Imitation

Here, the teacher provides a toy or small object to the student and has the same in their hand for the model. Teacher does a simple action with the toy (e.g., tap the table with the block, roll a car), and says, “Do this.” Student is expected to pick up their object and do the same action

Sample goal: When given “Do this” and objects with a model,  STUDENT will imitate a motor action using an item/object within 3 seconds improving imitation skills from BASELINE to at least 10 actions with at least 2 different actions for each object across three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records. STUDENT will imitate at least 10 different actions (including novel actions).

Gross Motor Imitation

Sitting knee-to-knee or otherwise close enough to attend to the movements, Teacher makes a simple gross motor movement, and Student is expected to make the same movement. Doesn’t have to be perfect execution; the goal is to attend to an action and to imitate, so allow grace for motor impairments!

Sample goal: When given “Do this” and a model of a gross motor movement (e.g., clap hands, stomp feet, jump), STUDENT will imitate a gross motor movement within 3 seconds improving imitation skills from BASELINE to 4 out of 5 consecutive opportunities on three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records. STUDENT will imitate at least 10 different actions (including novel actions).

Fine Motor Imitation

Similar to gross motor imitation, now we want to work on imitating smaller movements, so fingers and hands are targeted here. Again, don’t require perfection, but appropriate approximations for the developmental level. This goal is great if you are working with students learning sign language as a form of communication!

Sample goal: When given “Do this” and a model of a fine motor movement (e.g., tap fingers, open/close hands, touch nose), STUDENT will imitate a fine motor movement within 3 seconds improving imitation skills from BASELINE to 4 out of 5 consecutive opportunities on three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records. STUDENT will imitate at least 10 different actions (including novel actions).

Oral Motor Imitation

This is a great time to work on motor skills that may lead to vocalizations later on! Keep in mind, though, that this goal is NOT for vocalizations or even communication. The goal here is still imitation. I love to use oral motor imitation for silly faces! Make it fun!

Sample goal: When given “Do this” and a model of an oral motor movement (e.g., pucker, tongue out, open/close mouth), STUDENT will imitate an oral motor movement within 3 seconds improving imitation skills from BASELINE to 4 out of 5 consecutive opportunities on three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records. STUDENT will imitate at least 10 different actions (including novel actions).

Multi-Step Motor Imitation

Now we’re getting a little more complicated. In this goal, we are working on following at least TWO motor actions in sequence. Meaning, the student really has to attend to the instruction! Teacher performs two motor actions, maybe clap hands and then pat head, and THEN the student will clap and pat head. Should be in the same order! This is a great goal to use during circle time or small group.

Sample goal: When given “Do this” followed by a model of a sequence of actions, STUDENT will imitate a sequence of motor activities improving imitation skills from BASELINE to at least 10 sequences of two actions including some novel sequences in 4 out of 5 consecutive opportunities across three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records.

Motor Imitation with Vocalization

This may be the first foray into vocalizing for an entry-level verbal communicator. Teacher and Student have a toy, Teacher does a motor action AND makes a simple vocalization (e.g., push a car and say “vroom”), and student imitates BOTH the motor and vocalization. Again, allow for developmental approximations! The goal is attending and imitating. This goal is great to foster play and early verbal output.

Sample goal: When given “Do this” and shown a demonstration that combines an action and a vocalization (e.g., waving arms while saying, “swish swish”), STUDENT will imitate a motor movement along with a corresponding vocalization improving imitation skills from BASELINE to imitating up to three repetitions of at least 4 different motor and vocal response combinations without prompts in 4 out of 5 consecutive opportunities on three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records.

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Hi! I'm Audra!

I am a special education teacher, behavior analyst, and parent to an autistic adult. I love sharing the insights and resources I have gleaned over the past 25 years. Thanks for being here!

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