If you are a parent, family member, or caregiver of a child or adult with a developmental disability, you are in a unique position. Not only are you providing them with much-needed support, but you can also use this time as an opportunity for helping them set personal, social, or professional goals. Learning how to set goals and work towards achieving them is an essential skill that individuals living with developmental disabilities can use in any area of their lives. At RISE Services Inc. Utah, we’d like to encourage you to help your loved one set a goal for the new year. Keep reading to learn how you can make that happen.
Who Can Benefit from Setting Goals?
Anyone can truly benefit from setting goals – from children who wish to earn money for that new toy and adults who want to change careers to individuals who want to learn a new skill like cooking or downhill skiing. The same goes for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Not only will setting goals help them feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose, but it will also lead them toward living a life of independence.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are designed to make the goal-setting process simple while also making sure the goal you set is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound — S.M.A.R.T. Let’s break down the meaning behind each of these words:
- Specific: Set a goal that is clear, straightforward, and easy to understand. A specific goal is easier for an adult or child with a disability to pursue than one that is not well-defined.
- Measurable: A method of measuring the progress of a goal is very helpful. Consider including deadlines, amounts, percentages, and other similar measurements.
- Attainable: Make sure the goal is attainable and realistic. The last thing you want is for your foster child or adult family member with a developmental disability to become frustrated by trying to reach a goal that is nearly impossible.
- Relevant: The goal should be relevant or appropriate to the particular situation. An adult with a disability who wants to learn how to cook simple meals or take public transportation to and from work on their own is definitely a relevant goal.
- Time-Bound: Set a deadline for the goal. If your child living with a developmental disability wants to learn a new sport, help them set a date by which they will have finished their lessons or classes.
Write Goals Down
Begin by writing the goal down. This makes it much easier to remember the goal along with the various steps needed to succeed. Consider creating a visual element like a poster or a chart, where you and your foster child or adult family member with a developmental disability can check off each step or task as they’re completed. This will also keep them motivated as they can visually see that they are getting closer and closer every day to accomplishing the objective.
Create an Action Plan
This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it can be quite advantageous for the one setting the goal. In fact, you can simply add to the visual element you created when you wrote down the initial goal. Work backward and write out the individual steps the child or adult will have to take to meet their target. Under those steps, write out clear tasks that can be checked off as they complete them.
In addition to completing the final goal, receiving a reward for accomplishing the task can be valuable. If your foster child set a goal to improve their English grade and they met it, let them pick out something to reward them for their hard work. It can be as simple as a new video game, lunch at their favorite restaurant, or choosing the next movie for family movie night.
We Gladly Support Children & Adults with Developmental Disabilities
If you need services for your child or loved one living with a developmental disability, contact RISE Utah today. Feel free to ask about our employment services, after-school and summer programs, respite foster care, and many other residential and supportive services.
Source: “Golden Rules of Goal Setting: Five Rules to Set Yourself Up for Success.” Web article. Mind Tools. Emerald Works Limited. Web. 10 Jan. 2023.