Our comprehensive goal banks for school-aged language, AAC, Early Intervention & preschool, and fluency are available on our site or Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Save time creating goals with over THOUSANDS of possible goal combinations. Select your own combination of DO + CONDITION + CRITERION (and consistency) statements to develop personalized and measurable goals for your caseload.

Find goal banks for language, AAC, EI, and fluency on our Resources page!

Self-Determination Skills: About

Self-determination involves personal goal setting through the acquisition of specific life skills and self-awareness. Skills typically include: choice/decision making, goal setting, problem-solving, self-awareness, and self-advocacy.

For more information, check out our complete article: What are Self-Determination Skills?

Why Do We Target Self-Determination Skills?

Self-determination skills are important for increasing independence as one approaches adulthood.

Many of these skills are naturally acquired over time through our general education and personal experiences; however, for individuals with developmental disabilities and/or communication differences, these skills often need to be explicitly introduced to increase success in adulthood. Oftentimes, classroom teachers, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and/or life skills instructors address these skill areas within academic or on-the-job training settings.

Self-determination instruction has been shown to be predictive of positive postsecondary outcomes in the areas of education, employment, and independent living (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997).

Self-determination instruction has been shown to be predictive of positive postsecondary outcomes in the areas of education, employment, and independent living (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). This means that individuals with strong self-determination skills may be more successful in post-secondary education, attaining jobs, and/or living on their own.

Writing Self-Determination Goals

If you haven’t already, check out our article that outlines How to Write Speech Therapy Goals.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus specifically on writing goals for increasing self-determination skills during therapy or other related instruction.

The first step to writing goals is identifying the area(s) of need. This may include formal and informal assessments, observations, and interviews with clients, parents, teachers, and/or caregivers. Once you have identified the area(s) or need, you can begin composing the goals you are going to write and target.

As seen above, speech goals should be written with 3* components in mind: the DO statement, the CONDITION statement, and the CRITERION statement.

*Also commonly included is consistency (we incorporate this!). Aka: does the individual have to meet a specific criterion more than once? A common example of this may include across 3 consecutive sessions. This is usually something understood by the therapy organization/service provider and is sometimes/sometimes not included in the written goal itself. Including consistency statements ensure that the skill has been generalized and provides more reliable data that the skill has been properly mastered.

DO statement

What the client is actually going to DO and the specific skill they will be working towards.

Example: will identify/state an appropriate advocacy response/strategy

CONDITION statement

The specific setting and/or context your client will work on this skill.

Example: when presented with a social situation within structured tasks

CRITERION statement

How the client’s performance will be measured.

Example: with 80% accuracy


Example: [Client] will identify/state an appropriate advocacy response/strategy, when presented with a social situation within structured tasks, with 80% accuracy.

There you have it! An example using our Goal Writing Formula containing the DO + CONDITION + CRITERION (don’t forget to think about consistency!) for increasing self-determination skills.

Self-Determination Goal Bank

Below are a series of goal examples targeting self-determination skills within the areas of: choice/decision making, goal setting, problem-solving, self-awareness, and self-advocacy. The goals below can serve as solid examples for common self-determination skill areas, in addition to guides/templates to help you generate and customize your own goals. You can take parts of some goals and mix them with others too (e.g. take the “do” statement from one goal and the “condition” from another)!

Choice/Decision Making

Example #1: [Client] will produce a refusal (e.g., “I don’t want that”) using multimodal communication (i.e., SGD and/or verbal speech), when presented with an unpreferred item/activity, in 80% of opportunities.

Example #2: [Client] will use a designated phrase to make a request for a field of options (e.g., “Can I have choices?”), to a familiar communication partner, in 90% of opportunities.

Goal Setting

Example #1: [Client] will develop a 3-step process-oriented goal, when presented with a scenario related to vocational skills/employment, in 4 out of 5 trials.

Example #2: [Client] will write a measurable academic goal for his/her/themself, given visual support, in 75% of opportunities, across 3 treatment sessions.

Problem Solving

Example #1: [Client] will identify a problem within a short story/paragraph, when presented in a field of 4 written choices, with 75% accuracy.

Example #2: [Client] will state a solution to a given problem relating to various activities of daily living, within structured and/or natural contexts, in 8 out of 10 opportunities.


Example #1: [Client] will use a designated phrase (e.g., “This is hard”) to identify moments of frustration/difficulty, during a vocational task, in 75% of opportunities.

Example #2: [Client] will use a 5-point scale to self-evaluate emotional regulation, following therapist-led social interactions, 2 times per treatment session.


Example #1: [Client] will use the phrase, “I need space,” within the classroom environment to familiar/unfamiliar communication partners, in 90% of opportunities.

Example #2: [Client] will negotiate a single idea, when participating in a project/activity with a peer, with 75% accuracy.

Looking for more goal posts?

We have goal banks for almost every area of speech and language and are adding more regularly!

Some include:

  1. How to Write AAC Goals
  2. How to Write Expressive Language Goals
  3. How to Write Fluency Goals

Citations/Further Resources