For some reason, we have a hard time writing measurable objectives for a student’s use of their AAC system that reflect genuine communication activities. We often feel compelled, given our need to write goals on which we can take data and measure progress, to write artificial objectives that require a student to say a particular message or type of message a specified number of times per day.
How often do we write goals like this for verbal students? Well, pretty much never. We write goals to increase vocabulary use, or to increase length of utterances, or to increase the form or content of their language output in some way. But I don’t think I have ever seen an objective for a verbal student that requires them to make a specific request or comment 10 times per day.
What if the student doesn’t want (X) 10 times each day? Have they not met their objective? The student’s message must represent what (s)he wants to say when given the opportunity and motivation to create a message.
I once had a teacher wonder why a student who had previously learned to use some PECS communication responses had regressed to the point where he would not request anything at all during a fine motor/art activity where his only choices for items to request included scissors and drawing implements he could not use well and hated. He had not regressed, he was perfectly capable of using pictures to request items his did want, he was not going to make requests for things he clearly did not want.
Writing goals for a student to say something, a specified number of times may teach her inappropriately and provide less real learning and real communicating. Goals must increase the appropriateness of language, not quantity.