In this post you will learn about independent functioning IEP goals and how you can write them to save you time.

Independent living is one of the major outcomes of an IEP. So, preparing for it should ideally start from earlier education levels and working on these skills throughout their education.

That said, independent functioning IEP goals might look different for different students, depending on the student’s abilities, age, and what their caretakers are focused on. 

Working with the school district and the student’s guardians should help you choose what independent functioning skills to add to your IEP goals. So here are some examples with various goals to help you and save you time.

Templates for IEP Goals

If your school district doesn’t specify a template for IEP goals, it could get a bit challenging to find one that’s both versatile and all-encompassing. Here are a couple I found helpful that include most parameters you should include in your goal development:

  • By (insert date), given (number & type of) prompts, (the student) will (accomplish goal), in (number/percentage of) trials over (number of) consecutive (days, weeks, or months) as measured by (testing methodology).
  • Given (accommodations, prompts), (the student) will (accomplish goal) in (conditions, setting), (to what extent) by (a certain date) as evaluated by (evaluation methodology).
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Examples of Independent Functioning IEP Goals

The skills needed to live and function independently are widely varied and include many subcategories. For the sake of being thorough, I’ve divided them into goal clusters that should cover most bases and give you ideas to add more goals as you see fit.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Nutrition Goals

  1. Hold and use a utensil correctly.
  2. Put an appropriate bite of food on the utensil and eat it.
  3. Chew the food adequately with the mouth closed.
  4. Try new flavor combinations.
  5. Wait for the food to cool and take small bites.
  6. Identify different food courses and savory/sweet foods that go in each one.
  7. Clear the table at home and put used plates and utensils in the sink.
  8. Wash hands before and after eating.
  9. Pack away leftover food before refrigerating.
  10. Pass around food and utensils at large gatherings.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Hygiene and Grooming Goals

  1. Correctly identify body parts (by pointing at them).
  2. Identify tools for personal hygiene (hairbrush, toothbrush, soap, tap, bath, washcloth)
  3. Wash the face every morning.
  4. Brush teeth after every meal.
  5. Swish water or mouthwash without swallowing.
  6. Floss teeth (with regular floss or floss pick).
  7. Differentiate between hygiene products and household cleaning products.
  8. Use the bathtub to clean the body.
  9. Brush and style hair (curl, straighten, or use styling products)
  10. Apply deodorant thoroughly (roll-on or stick)
  11. Ask to use the restroom when needed and reply yes/no when asked.
  12. Follow a restroom use routine.
  13. Identify the correct restroom stall.
  14. Close the stall door.
  15. Adjust clothing before and after restroom use.
  16. Use toilet paper correctly.
  17. Flush the toilet correctly.
  18. Wash hands after using the toilet.

For more personal hygiene strategies, click here.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Dressing Goals

  1. Identify the correct orientation of clothing (front, back, inside, and out).
  2. Learn how to put on underwear (boxers, briefs, bras, and undershirts).
  3. Learn how to put different tops on and off (T-shirts, shirts, and jackets).
  4. Learn how different bottoms go on and off (jeans, pants, and sweatpants).
  5. Learn how different shoes are fastened (velcro, tie, and slip-on).
  6. Identify season-appropriate clothing and how to tell the weather outside.
  7. Identify the correct personal clothing and shoe size when shopping. 
  8. Learn about accessories.
  9. Loop belts through pants and buckle them.
  10. Choose handbags or purses.
  11. Pick out jewelry (earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces).
  12. Learn how to take off accessories and store them after wear.
  13. Dress oneself fully.
  14. Learn about dressing for an occasion (work, dinner, a casual get-together, etc.).
  15. Choose an outfit independently.
  16. Change into the correct outfit when it’s time to go out.

For more dressing strategies, click here.

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Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Safety Goals

  1. Identify edible and inedible items around the house.
  2. Identify choking hazards in edible foods.
  3. Identify hazardous items around the house (sharp knives, hot iron, etc.).
  4. Participate in fire, earthquake, and lockdown drills.
  5. Follow directions from authority figures during drills.
  6. Dial 911 during personal emergencies only.
  7. Identify community workers and what they respond to. 
  8. Learn how to describe an emergency to a responder.
  9. Locate the fire extinguisher and learn how to operate it.
  10. Locate the first aid kit and learn how to use every item.
  11. Operate a cell phone.
  12. Locate or dial emergency contact numbers on the cell phone.
  13. Learn about boundaries with strangers.
  14. Learn to search for a trusted figure in uncomfortable situations.
  15. Learn when to answer the door when home alone and when not to. 
  16. Learn how to avoid or clear dangerous materials like cleaning chemical spills or broken glass.
  17. Learn what to place inside a microwave oven and what not to.
  18. Learn about expiry dates and how to dispose of spoiled food.
  19. Learn what to do when you finish cooking (turn off the stove and open a window).
  20. Learn what to do before leaving the house (close windows, blow out candles, and lock doors)

For kitchen safety resources, click here.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Communication Goals

  1. Identify name, address, and social security number on written documents.
  2. Write name and address when needed.
  3. Identify different types of written documents, like bills, letters, etc.
  4. Use a computer for written tasks.
  5. Use a web browser to access the internet.
  6. Learn about internet safety and how to communicate with strangers on the internet.
  7. Operate a cell phone for phone calls.
  8. Use the internet to shop for items.
  9. Use the internet to pay bills.
  10. Use the features on a smartphone like texting and accessing the internet.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Miscellaneous Goals

  1. Identify different furniture for various uses around the house.
  2. Call a professional when something breaks around the house (a plumber for water leaks, an electrician for broken light fixtures, etc.).
  3. Care for houseplants.
  4. Care for a pet.
  5. Keep the house in order (cleaning, tidying up, and doing laundry).
  6. Operate small appliances in the kitchen (blender, hand mixer, microwave oven, etc.).
  7. Read labels to know what’s inside a container.
  8. Read price tags and labels to identify item prices.
  9. Use cash or a debit card to pay for purchased items.

Are You Looking for Additional Help and Strategies for Functional Life Skills?

Check out my new Functional Life Skills Toolkit. It includes step-by-step resources for task analysis and goal development for autistic children, teens, and young adults.

Other Functional Life Skills Resources for You

The Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Individuals with Autism

Breaking Barriers: Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

Executive Functioning Challenges with Task Initiation: Resources to Help Teach Life Skills

independent functioning IEP goals