ADHD IEP Goals and Objectives: Everything You Need To Know

Creating appropriate IEP goals and objectives for children with ADHD can provide support and resources for their unique needs. This list of examples will help you get started as you create meaningful and measurable goals for a child with ADHD.


Should A Child With ADHD Have An IEP?

Because I went to school to be a special education teacher, I thought I was well prepared for my own son’s IEP meeting. The reality is, when it came to his ADHD diagnosis and needs, it took a significant amount of time and communication to create measurable annual goals that actually addressed his areas of need.

In the beginning, there was even a question of whether or not an IEP would be appropriate for ADHD.

An IEP vs. A 504 Plan For ADHD

I was told, as we began the process, that children with ADHD need a 504 plan but not an IEP. Over the years, I have learned that this is absolutely not true. The reality is, they both offer levels of support for children of ADHD.

504 Plans

A 504 plan codifies a set of accommodations, or changes in the learning environment, to help the learner follow the existing classroom curriculum. It is less involved and typically, a lot less formal than an IEP (individualized education plan). Most importantly, a 504 plan does not change the instruction itself.


An IEP is a legal contract between the school and the parent. It describes the specialized instruction and support that a child will be provided from the school system. An IEP typically includes:

  • the specialized services and/or instruction a child will receive
  • how often these services will be provided
  • measurable goals for the learner to assess progress

Children with ADHD may be served through either a 504 plan or an IEP, depending on the individual needs of the child.

ADHD child

Accommodations For Children With ADHD

Here are some common examples of the accommodations typically used to assist learners with ADHD:

  • Extra time on tests
  • The use of technology to assist with organization and execution of tasks
  • Allowing extra breaks
  • Changing to the learning environment to limit distraction
  • Assistance with staying organized
  • Allowing movement while learning

These classroom level accommodations can work very well for children with ADHD:

  • Use of a whiteboard with color markers to show a visual task list
  • Tech assistance using iPads, timers, and laptops.
  • Visual schedules, reviewed throughout the day
  • Extra time to alert to changes and transitions
  • Breaking longer assignments into sections and assigning time frames for completing each part.
  • Simple instructions, step by step, with visuals where possible
  • Use of a quiet room for testing
  • Allowing exercise before testing
  • Use of fidget toy during class
  • Open book or open notes test

Sample ADHD IEP Goals And Objectives

When creating IEP goals and objectives for learners with ADHD, consider goals relating to focus and attention and organization and planning.

Sample Goals For Focus And Attention

  1. Student anticipate and verbalize X number of test questions prior to test taking.
  2. Learner will identify a concern that leads to their test anxiety and brainstorm 1-2 solutions.
  3. Given a calendar and study materials, student will be able to create a study sessions calendar to follow.
  4. Learner will self-identify X number of concepts that he/she is struggling to master and ask for assistance.
  5. At the end of a lesson, learner will be able to verbalize concepts or facts that were reviewed.
  6. Learner will be able to self-identify their best environment for test-taking. (i.e. quiet room, being able to talk out loud, verbal test, exercise beforehand, etc.)

IEP Goals For Organization and Planning

  1. Student will create a system for organizing personal items in their locker, desk, or notebook with support.
  2. Learner will place photographs in order and then narrate the sequence of events.
  3. Given a complex task, the student name will organize the task on paper, including the materials needed, the steps to accomplish the task, and a time frame
  4. Student will prepare an organized outline with support for all writing projects.
  5. The learner will bring assignments/homework to and from school with 90% accuracy.
  6. The student will use colored highlighters to identify subject-specific homework (i.e. blue for math, yellow for history, etc.)
  7. Student will indicate what steps or items are needed and the order of the events for regular routines.
  8. The learner will create a plan for accomplishing a task they agree is typically difficult for them.
  9. Student will write out steps prior to beginning a project or complex task with 80% accuracy.

child with ADHD in classroom

What You Should Know About IEP’s And ADHD

Because IEP’s are designed to address areas of difficulty for the learner, it is important to also highlight strengths and successes as part of the child’s overall development.

But leading ADHD experts estimate that by age 10, children with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages – from parents, peers, or otherwise – than they do positive messages.


As parents and educators, the very best way to support children with ADHD is to see them as far more than their challenges.

Additional Resources For Supporting Children With ADHD

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