Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Who Chooses Outcomes/Goals?

Remember that, in both the Routines-Based Early Intervention and the Engagement Classroom models, the family chooses outcomes/goals. Professionals don't.

This has come up recently in a situation where the child's classroom teachers were interviewed with a Routines-Based Interview after an IFSP was in place. Such a situation occurs when, for some reason, the original IFSP occurs with only the family, or the child doesn't start in a classroom-based program until he or she has been in early intervention for a while. Teachers were interviewed and they chose the goals. Someone then presented those goals to the family to see if they agreed with them. Wrong.

First, the family should have been invited to the interview with the teachers, so they could have heard first-hand what the teachers said. Second, If the family didn't go to the interview, the professional (probably the interviewer) should have taken the information back to the family and asked the family if they wanted to amend the IFSP. If the family had picked only about six home-related and family outcomes, originally, and they they chose about six new, school-related outcomes, they can just add them to the plan. If, however, they had had an RBI and had picked 10-12 outcomes to start with, you wouldn’t want to add six more. The family would reconsider all their outcomes/goals or pick the top 10-12 out of the whole list.

It's tempting to think that teachers who see the child's functioning in school routines and who will be responsible for teaching the child in those routines should select the outcomes/goals, but the IFSP and the IEP are the family's plan. I know they're supposed to be the team's plan, but we're trying to make this a family-centered endeavor. Whose child is it? Teachers provide information about the child's engagement, independence, and social relationships during school routines, so families can make decisions about what they want the child to do during those routines. If teachers feel the child really could benefit from acquiring or bettering certain skills during certain routines, this will come out in the interview. Furthermore, teachers are not limited to working on outcomes/goals during the classroom day, so they can still work on skills the family didn't choose. They just can't ignore any skills the family did choose.

Remember, families--not professionals--choose outcomes/goals.