Measurable goals are essential to successful dyslexia intervention

Effective therapy is goal-directed and systematic. Results of a recent assessment are used to generate goals that are specific, measurable, and realistic. Key to successful intervention is the development of an individualized treatment plan. Goal-setting will also take into consideration the demands of your child's school, work, social, and home environments.

A treatment plan that includes goals and therapy approaches should be shared with you and your child (if old enough) at the beginning of intervention. Treatment should progress in a hierarchical structure. This means that skills addressed in therapy should build upon skills that were previously targeted. Collaboration among you, teachers, and therapists is highly recommended to promote consistency across settings (e.g., home, classroom, office).


  • Goals should be generated based on the results of a recent assessment using formal tests.
  • Goals may also be based on informal or non-standardized assessments; however, they must be reassessed at the end of a predetermined period of time.
  • Goals need to be specific and measurable. For example, a goal to “improve the ability to spell new words” is not specific or measurable. An appropriate clinical goal would be to “increase the client’s ability to spell words using the –dge pattern from 60% to 80% accuracy on an informal assessment.”
  • Both long-term (e.g., 1 year) and short-term goals (e.g., 3–4 months) should be addressed within the treatment plan. Long-term goals set the basis and give direction for determining the short-term goals, which are steps to reach the long-term goals.
  • Goals should be selected to address functional, relevant, and meaningful skills.
  • You should see progress in these functional areas as therapy continues.


  • Therapy should directly address your child’s ability to use certain skills within functional and meaningful contexts (e.g., school, home, office).
  • Therapy approaches should be evidence-based, incorporating techniques that have been researched in the literature and are proven to be effective.
  • The therapy program should be individualized based upon the specific needs of your child. Inflexible “cookie-cutter” programs tend to be restrictive and not individualized, and therefore may not best meet client needs. These programs do have their place if access to a professional is limited. They can also be beneficial as a supplement to formal therapy.
  • Therapy should be interest-based.
  • The clinician should work within your child’s “zone of proximal development (ZPD).” This is a range in which skills are not fully developed and your child needs support from the clinician to correctly perform the task. Working within one's ZPD helps your child master a new skill while minimizing frustration.
  • Progress on specific goals should be evaluated on an informal basis during each therapy session. Depending whether your child shows improvement or not, goals and approaches should be changed or adjusted as necessary.
  • At the end of the pre-determined time frame, progress on goals should be re-evaluated using formal or informal measures.


  • The clinician should provide frequent updates to you about your child's progress and changes in the treatment program. Data from the sessions or daily progress notes written by the clinician can be used to demonstrate progress.
  • Home activities provided by the clinician can support the skills addressed during therapy and provide your child with an opportunity to practice these skills independently.
  • Therapy should be enjoyable for both your child and the clinician. Incorporating your child's interests is a good first step to designing a successful, fun learning context.