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Preference Assessments

By Rosemarie Griffin
Have you worked with a student before who was hard to engage? Have you worked with a student who you presented a variety of toys or activities and they did not show any interest? This can be overwhelming for a professional and frustrating for a student.
Knowing what our students enjoy engaging with, allows us to incorporate these items or activities within our therapy sessions. But how do we find out what our students enjoy when our students interests are so very limited. Welcome to the preference assessment!
A simple preference assessment can be described as a list of items and activities that could potentially be enjoyed by a student. They help us identify an individuals favorite or preferred items or activities. The idea is to present the student with a variety of items and activities and gauge their motivation to engage with what is presented.
There are many available for free and I have included my favorite preference assessment at the end of this blog post.
So we may present our student with a fire truck and gauge their motivation to engage with it.
We may present our student with jumping on the trampoline and gauge their motivation to engage with this activity.
Some of our students may not be communicating verbally, so we will have to put our detective hats on and observe their behavior closely. We need to document if the student enjoys the item/activity or if they are not interested.
When we have identified items/ activities that are preferred by the student, we can use these items to directly address requesting. Work on requesting if your student is preverbal may help them develop a way to communicate with the world. So if we identify that a student really enjoys playing ball, we can incorporate this into our therapy sessions.
If we have identified that our student loves listening to music, we can work on this as a requesting target or use it during our sessions as reinforcement for staying engaged with therapeutic tasks.
Preference assessments can be so very helpful! Fill out the form below to gain access to my favorite preference assessment.

Get your preference assessment here

A great tool to use!

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Here's a free resource–

IEP Goal Bank

Writing IEPs for autistic learners can feel daunting.


From this free download, you'll get real-life examples of specific, measurable goals for expressive language, receptive language, play skills, and imitation.

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