Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
ABA is a therapeutic intervention for children with disabilities like autism and or pervasive developmental disorders.ACB
American Council of the Blind www.acb.org
Active Range of Motion
The extent to which the individual can voluntarily and actively move a limb or body part through an arc or angle. For example, if your arm is hanging down at your side and you can raise it straight up over your head, your active range of motion is 180 degrees.Accessibility
A barrier free environment that allows maximum participation by individuals with disabilities.Accommodation
A change in how a student accesses and demonstrates learning, but it does not substantially change the instructional content.

Acuteness, as of hearing.

ADA (See Americans with Disabilities Act)

Strategies that support students in achieving the learning outcomes of the provincial curriculum. Adaptations may include adjustments to assessment, instruction, environment or resources.

Adapted Physical Education (APE)
A component of the educational curriculum in which physical, recreational, and other therapists work with children who exhibit delays in motor development and perceptual motor skills. It is a related service some children might need in addition to or in place of physical education.

Adaptive Behavior
The extent to which an individual is able to adjust to and apply new skills to new environments, tasks, objects, and people.

ADD (See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD (See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

An individual who represents other people’s interests as his or her own, advocating strategies that involve working on behalf of or with other people.

Aggression is defined as behavior that is aimed at harming or injuring others (Coie, Dodge, 1998). Challenging behavior isn’t always aggressive; sometimes it is disruptive or antisocial or annoying. But aggressive behavior is always challenging. It can be direct (hitting, pushing, biting, pinching, spitting) or it can indirect (teasing, bullying, ignoring). (Kaiser, Rasminsky, 2003).

The art of walking without assistance from others. It may include the use of crutches, canes and other mechanical aids.

Ambulatory means able to walk independently.

Amendment means a change, revision, or addition made to a law.

American Sign Language (ASL)
American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual/gestural language used by people who are deaf in the United States and Canada. It uses semantic, syntactic, morphological, and phonological rules that are distinct from English.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a national professional association for speech and language therapists and audiologists. This is also the name of a monthly journal dealing with news, announcements, and professional matters. www.asha.org

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which provides people who have disabilities the same freedoms as Americans who do not have disabilities. This law addresses access to public and private buildings and programs. Also, it covers areas such as child care, transportation, housing, and employment.

Annual Goals
Statement describing the anticipated growth of a student’s skill and knowledge written into a student’s yearly Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) Chart
A chart used to record information during an antecedent-behavior-consequence (ABC) observation. It allows you to easily organize information about antecedents and consequences of a behavior.

Anxiety Reaction
An abnormal and overwhelming apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (i.e., sweating, increased pulse, breathing difficulty).

American Psychological Association, American Psychoanalytic Association; American Psychiatric Association.

Loss of speech functions; also refers to the inability to speak caused by brain trauma.

Apnea means lack of breathing.

Appeal means a written request for a change in a decision or the act of making such a request.

Appropriate means a service meets the educational needs of the child.

Loss of the ability to execute simple voluntary acts, especially loss of the ability to perform elementary units of action in the expression of language.

A combination of abilities and other characteristics, whether innate or acquired, believed to be indicative of an individual’s ability to learn in some particular area.

Association for Retarded Citizens http://www.thearcrowan.org/

Art Therapy
Using art as a therapeutic device.

Inflammation of a joint.

The enunciation of sounds, words, and sentences.

Asperger Syndrome
Asperger syndrome is one of several autism spectrum disorders characterized by difficulties in social interaction and by restricted and stereotyped interests and activities. AS is distinguished from the other ASDs in having no general delay in language or cognitive development.

ASD (See Autism Spectrum Disorder)

ASHA (See American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)

ASL (See American Sign Language)

The process of collecting information about a student’s learning needs through a series of individual tests, observations, and interviewing the student, the family, and others. Also, the process of obtaining detailed information about an infant or toddler’s developmental levels and needs for services. May also be called evaluation.

Assessment Team
Assessment Team is a team of people from different areas of expertise that observes and tests a child to find out his or her strengths and needs.

Assisted Learning
An approach to teaching, where the teacher guides and directs students through the learning process. This method allows for students to acquire information and learning strategies without having to discover them on their own.

Assistive Technology
Any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system, (the lungs and the system of air tubes that lead to them). It is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes the tiny air passageways in the lungs, (called bronchioles), to become narrowed when they react to something in the environment. For more information regarding Asthma, visit the American Lung Association website at: www.lungusa.org

Asymmetric refers to one side being different from the other.

Assistive Technology

At Risk
At Risk is a term used to refer to children who have, or could have, problems with their development that may affect their learning.

Poor sense of balance and lack of coordination of the voluntary muscles.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Characterized by difficulty with voluntary movements, especially in controlling those movements in the desired direction (demonstrated by extra or purposeless movements).

A person’s ability to look at, play or work with an object for an extended period of time.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder. Typically children with ADHD have developmentally inappropriate behavior, including poor attention skills, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These characteristics arise early in childhood, typically before age seven, are chronic, and last at least six months. Children with ADHD may also experience difficulty in the areas of social skills and self-esteem. For more information regarding ADHD visit the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) website at: www.chadd.org or visit the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) website at: www.add.org

Attention Span
The length of time an individual can concentrate on a task without being distracted or losing interest.

A graph on which a person’s ability to hear different pitches (frequencies) at different volumes (intensities) of sound is recorded.

Relates to hearing.

A person who holds a degree in audiology and is a specialist in testing hearing and providing rehabilitation services to persons with hearing loss.

The study of hearing; it is concerned with the nature of hearing, identification of hearing loss, assessment of hearing loss in the individual, and the rehabilitation of those with hearing loss.

Auditory Discrimination
The ability to distinguish among different speech sounds.

Auditory Memory Span
The number of related or unrelated items that can be recalled immediately after hearing them presented.

Auditory Perception
The ability to understand auditory input.

Aural relates to the ear, or the sense of hearing.

Autism is a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction. For more information regarding Autism, visit the website at: www.autism.org

Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term for all Autism related disorders. www.nichcy.org/resources/autism.asp

Avoidance Behavior
Those responses emitted by the individual with the intent of avoiding or postponing an aversive stimulus.


Behavior Disorder (BD)
A term used by some States to describe the behavior of children who exhibit difficulties with social interactions and inappropriate behavior that interferes with learning.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
A plan that is put in place to teach a child proper behavior and social skills. It should be positive in nature, not punitive.

Behavior Modification
Techniques used to change behavior by applying both educational and psychological interventions.

Behavior Therapy
A method of behavior modification using such techniques as counterconditioning, reinforcement, and shaping to modify behavior.

Behavioral Assessment (BA)
Behavioral Assessment is the process of gathering (through direct observation and by parent report) and analyzing information about a child’s behavior. The information may be used to plan ways to help the child change unwanted behaviors. Observations include when a behavior occurs as well as the frequency and duration of the behavior.

Bilateral means pertinent to, affecting, or relating to the two sides of the body.

From bilateral, meaning to use both sides of the body in a simultaneous and parallel fashion. Especially related to hemispheric functioning and the two sides (right-left) of the body.

The ability to speak two languages fluently.

BIP (See Behavior Intervention Plan)

Biting can be developmentally appropriate for very young children, who may be experimenting with oral sensory input. They may also use biting as a reaction to anger or frustration as a way to communicate a need when they don’t have words yet. Biting should taper off as a child leaves toddlerhood and enters preschool age, as he learns more words and other ways to communicate and express his needs. Children who are older and still biting may need to be screened for a developmental concern. Contact your local school district’s Early Intervention Program for more information.

Blind (Legally)
Visual acuity for distance vision of 20/200 or less in the better eye after best correction with conventional lenses; or a visual field of no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye. For more information regarding the disabiltiy of blindness, visit the National Federation of the Blind’s website at: www.nfb.org,the American Foundation for the Blind’s website at: www.afb.org, or the American Council of the Blind’s website at:www.acb.org.

Bipolar Disorder (BP)
A psychiatric disorder characterized by swings in mood between mania — which in children and teens might include irritability, tantrums and destructive behavior and depression

Behavior Problems

Bradycardia means a very slow heart rate.

Basic Skills

Bullying takes place when a person is exposed, over time and repeatedly, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons (Olweus, 1991). It may take many forms, including physical aggression as in hitting or shoving. It can be verbal, as in threats, intimidations, and name calling. It can also be relational, meaning relationships are manipulated to hurt someone else, as in gossip or shunning.


CA is an acronym for Chronological Age, and refers to the age of a person in terms of years and months.

Child Care Resource and Referral (agencies) www.rowan-smartstart.org

Cognitive Delay

CEC (See Council on Exceptional Children)

Council of Education of the Deaf. Since its inception in 1930, CED has been recognized for maintaining high standards for persons working with deaf and hard of hearing students in the education process. CED is involved in establishing standards and providing teacher certification and evaluating university professional preparation programs based on clearly defined standards and criteria.

Central Auditory Processing Disorder
Central auditory processing refers to the perception of sound, which is not the same as the individual’s ability to sense or receive sound. CAP includes attention to sound, short- and long-term memory for sound, selective listening, and localization of sound (i.e., the ability to detect whether the sound is coming from behind, to the left, above, etc.).

Central Nervous System (CNS)
Bodily system which is comprised of the brain and the spinal column; it is the first of the nervous systems to develop in the fetus.

Comprehensive Epilepsy Program

Cerebral Dominance
Cerebral Dominance refers to the natural tendency for one side of the brain to control certain behaviors (for example: hand dominance).

Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Motor impairment caused by brain damage, which is usually acquired during the prenatal period or during birth; ranging from mild to severe, it is neither curable nor progressive. For more information regarding Cerebral Palsy, visit the United Cerebral Palsy website at: www.ucp.org

Cystic Fibrosis.www.cff.org

CHADD (See Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

Channels of Communication
The sensory-motor pathways through which language is transmitted, e.g., auditory-vocal, visual-motor, among other possible combinations

Child Find
A state and local program mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to identify individuals with disabilities between the ages of birth and 21, and to direct them to appropriate early intervention or educational programs.

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
CHADD is a national organization that provides information, training and support for individuals interested and/or impacted by ADHD. For more information regarding ADHD visit the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) website at:www.chadd.org or visit the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) website at: www.add.org

A condition that persists over a long period of time.

Chronological Age (CA)
Age of a person in terms of years and months.

Cleft Palate
A congenital, reparable split in the palate that affects one’s articulation and speech.

Children’s Mental Health

Cognitive is a term that describes the process people use for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and using judgment.

Cognitive Development
Development of a person’s ability to think about and perceive the environment.

Cognitive Processes
Modes of thought, knowing, and symbolic representation, including comprehension, judgment, memory, imaging, and reasoning.

Cognitive Style
A person’s typical approach to learning activities and problem solving.

Students read to comprehend. Comprehension is the knowledge gained through the act of comprehending/understanding. The teaching of comprehension involves specific strategies students use to identify what they do and do not understand in a text.

Comprehensive Educational Evaluation
The tests and observations done by the school staff to find out if the child has a disability and requires special education and related services. The school’s multi-disciplinary team is required to do this evaluation and hold a meeting with the parent to discuss the results. A parent may choose to share any evaluation and assessment information done by the child and family agency or by other qualified persons.

An abstract idea generalized from particular instances. Involves idea of the existence of objects, processes, or relation of objects, i.e., table, cell, man, raining, family, etc.

Conceptual Style
An approach that characterizes individuals. It may vary from impulsive to reflective, from rational to irrational, or from systematic to disorderly. Also, the manner in which one expresses his ideas.

Concrete Mode
One of the styles of cognitive functioning that describes the child’s approach to problem-solving at a simple, elementary level. Also, the use of tangible objects in instruction, as opposed to purely verbal instruction.

Concrete Operational Stage
Third stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, in which children develop concrete reasoning skills and an understanding of conservation.

Conductive Hearing Loss
Loss of hearing due to failure of sounds waves to reach the inner ear through the normal air conduction channels of the outer and middle ear.

Any condition that is present at birth.

Possession of awareness or mental life or having sensations and feelings. Also, the condition of an organism that is receiving impressions or having experiences.

A behavior, event, or action that results directly from a specific behavior.

A conventional speech sound produced, with or without laryngeal vibration, by certain successive contractions of the articulatory muscles which modify, interrupt, or obstruct the expired air stream to the extent that its pressure is raised.

Constructivist Approach
An approach focusing on a student’s performance and understanding instead of the measurement of skills and knowledge. This approach uses what a student already knows, and allows the student to incorporate and build on that knowledge in order to build their own learning experience.

Providing information to another teacher about educational strategies.

Contextual influences
Factors and variables present in a student’s environment that influence or affect the student’s behavior.

Continuum of Services
The range of different educational placement options that a school district can use to serve children with disabilities; range from least restrictive to most restrictive.

Contracture is a permanent shortening of a muscle or tendon, causing loss of range of motion.

Cortical refers to cerebral cortex, highest functioning level of the brain, or cognitive aspects of learning.

Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant

Council on Exceptional Children (CEC)
The largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted. www.cec.sped.org

Counseling refers to advice or help given by someone qualified to give such advice or help (often referring to psychological counseling).

CP (See Cerebral Palsy)

Cyanosis refers to a duskiness or bluish color on the skin caused by poor circulation or low oxygen concentration in the bloodstream.

Cystic fibrosis (CF)
An inherited disorder in which excessive mucous clogs the lungs and pancreas, causing respiratory and digestive problems.



Developmental Delay or Developmental Disability

A hearing loss so severe that speech cannot be understood aurally, even with a hearing aid; some sounds may still be perceived.

Deaf-Blind refers to a combination of hearing and visual impairments, that can cause communication and other developmental and educational challenges.

Division for Early Childhood. www.dec-sped.org

A level of performance that is less than expected for a child.

Department of Health (DOH)
The government agency whose mission is to promote health and sound health policy, prevent disease and disability, improve health services systems, and ensure that essential public health functions and safety-net services are available.

Department of Human Services (DHS)
Department of Human Services (DHS) helps people meet their basic needs by providing or administering health care coverage, economic assistance, and a variety of services for children, and people with disabilities. www.dhhs.state.nc.us

Developmental means having to do with the steps or stages in growth and development of a child.

Developmental Assessments
Developmental Assessments are standardized measures of a child’s development as it compares to the development of other children at that age.

Developmental Disability (DD)
Any physical or mental condition that begins before the age of 18 years, causes the child to acquire skills at a slower rate than his/her peers, is expected to continue indefinitely, and impairs the child’s ability to function in society. For more information regarding Developmental Disabilities, visit the The Arc of the United States website at: www.thearc.org

Developmental History
Developmental History refers to the developmental progress of a child in such skills as sitting, walking and talking.

DHS (See Department of Human Services)

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. For more information regarding Diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website at: www.diabetes.org

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV)
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV is the American Psychiatric Association’s manual for the classification and description of behavioral and emotional disorders.

Diagnostic Test
A test used to identify specific areas of weakness or strength. It measures components or subparts of a larger body of information or skill. Diagnostic achievement tests are most commonly used for reading, arithmetic, and writing.

Disability is a functional limitation that interferes with a person’s ability to walk, hear, talk, learn, etc.

The confused state present in Piaget’s theory of cognition when a person realizes that their current ways of thinking cannot be used to solve a problem.

The involuntary shifting of a student’s attention from the task at hand to sounds, sights, and other stimuli that commonly occur in the environment.

Down Syndrome
Down Syndrome is the most common and readily identifiable chromosomal condition associated with mental retardation. It is caused by a chromosomal abnormality: for some unexplained reason, an accident in cell development results in 47 instead of the usual 46 chromosomes. This extra chromosome changes the orderly development of the body and brain. In most cases, the diagnosis of Down Syndrome is made according to results from a chromosome test administered shortly after birth. www.nads.org

Deaf Service Division (of DHS)

DSM-IV (See Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV)

Due Process
Set of legal requirements and proceedings carried out according to established rules and principles which are designed to protect an individual’s constitutional and legal rights.

Due Process Hearing
A legal proceeding, similar to a court proceeding, where a hearing officer is presented evidence by disagreeing parties. A verbatim record is taken of the proceedings, and a hearing officer writes a decision that may be appealed to the State education agency, and if desired, to a civil court.

Due Process Procedure
Due Process Procedure is an action that protects a person’s rights, in special education this applies to action taken to protect the educational rights of students with disabilities.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (of the Department of Human Services)

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by challenges in spelling and decoding abilities. These challenges typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language, and are often unanticipated in relation to other cognitive abilities, and in the provision of effective classroom instruction.www.interdys.org

Dyspraxia is a condition characterized by a difficulty with planning and performing coordinated movements although there is no apparent damage to muscles.


Early Intervention (EI)
Specialized services provided to infants and toddlers ages birth to three who are at risk for or are showing signs of developmental delay.

Early Intervention Services or Programs
Early Intervention Services or Programs are programs or services designed to identify and serve developmental needs as early as possible.

Emotional/Behavioral Disorder

Early Childhood

ECG (See Electrocardiogram)

Echolalia is a stage of speech development characterized by parrot-like repeating.

Early Childhood Special Education

ED (See Emotional Disturbance)

Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test to measure brain wave patterns.

Epilepsy Foundation. www.epilepsyfoundation.org

Caring only about one’s self and/or centering one’s view around one’s own needs or desires.

EI (See Early Intervention)

EKG (See Electrocardiogram)

A test to measure heart beat pattern.

Eligibility in special education refers to children who may receive special education services because of learning needs as they qualify within these regulations.

Eligible means able to qualify.

English Language Learner

Educable Mentally Handicapped

Emotional Disturbance (ED)
A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance.

A. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
B. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
C. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
D. A tendency to develop general pervasive moods of unhappiness or depression.
E. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The ability to understand and feel the emotions of another person.

A lack of bladder control.

Environmental Factors
Variables that affect how children learn in school such as poverty, racial discrimination, lead exposure, lack of access to health care, and family stress.

EOG is an acronym for Electrooculogram.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by electrical signals in the brain being disrupted. This change in the brain leads to a seizure. Seizures can cause brief changes in a person’s: body movements, awareness, emotions, and senses (such as taste, smell, vision, or hearing). Some people may only have a single seizure during their lives. One seizure does not mean that a person has epilepsy. People with epilepsy have repeated seizures. Many seizure disorders are managed through medication. www.epilepsyfoundation.org

ESY (See Extended School Year)

The cause(s) of a disability, impairment, or disease; may include genetic, physiological, environmental or psychological factors.

Evaluating refers to assessing a child’s special learning needs.

The process of utilizing formal and informal procedures to determine specific areas of a person’s strengths, needs, and eligibility for special education services.

Expressive language
Ability to use language to communicate and express oneself.

Extended School Year (ESY)
The delivery of special education and related services during the summer vacation or other extended periods when school is not in session. The purpose for ESY is to prevent a child with a disability from losing previously learned skills. The IEP team must consider the need for Extended School Year at each meeting and must describe those services specifically with goals and objectives. Not all special education students require an extended school year. Extended school year services must be individually crafted.

Extension refers to the act of straightening.

Extremities, refers to one’s legs or arms.

Eye-Hand Coordination
Eye-Hand Coordination refers to the use of organized hand movements after interpreting visual and tactile information.


Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s education records. The law applies to all schools which receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student, or former student, who has reached the age of 18 or is attending any school beyond the high school level. Students and former students to whom the rights have transferred are called eligible students.

Free Appropriate Public Education

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effect

FBA (See Functional Behavior Assessment)

FERPA (See Family Education Rights Privacy Act)

Fetal Alcohol SyndromeFetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)
A condition that results from prenatal alcohol exposure. If you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. The defects that are part of fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible and can include serious physical, mental and behavioral problems, though they vary from one child to another.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

504 Plan
An individualized plan developed for a student with a disability that specifies what accommodations and/or services they will get in school to “level the playing field” so that they may derive as much benefit from their public educational program as their non-disabled peers. The plan follows from the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and also applies to extracurricular activities and non-student situations such as employment. Section 504 applies to all public entities receiving federal monies or federal financial assistance.

Figure-Ground Perception
The ability to attend to one aspect of the visual field while perceiving it in relation to the rest of the field.

Fine Motor Skills
Control of small muscles in the hands and fingers, which are needed for activities such as writing and cutting.

Flexion refers to the act of bending.

Floor Time
This approach, developed by child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan, is becoming increasingly popular among early interventionists working with two- and three-year-olds who demonstrate difficulties with self-regulation and symptoms of autism. Floor time focuses on the interactive relationship between the caregiver and child, attempting to enhance and increase turn taking and responsive interaction cycles through open-ended play activities (Greenspan & Weider, 1998).

The ability to read a text accurately and quickly with appropriate pauses and emotion.

Formal Assessment
A formal assessment is conducted by professionals trained in assessment methodology in typical or atypical development.

Formal Operational Stage
Fourth and final stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, in which children develop abstract thinking and hypothetical reasoning skills.

Fragile X Syndrome
A genetic condition involving a mutation on the X chromosome. Though it’s more commonly seen in boys, girls can also be affected by Fragile X, and both males and females can be carriers of the gene. Fragile X can cause cognitive disabilities and autism.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
Term used in P.L. 94-142 to mean special education and related services that are provided through an IEP and at no cost to the parents.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
Functional behavioral assessment is generally considered to be a problem-solving process for addressing challenging student behavior. It relies on a variety of techniques and strategies to identify the purposes of specific behavior and to help IEP teams select interventions to directly address the challenging behavior.

Functional Behaviors
Behaviors (basic skills, such as meal-time skills) that a child has mastered, or needs to master, in order to get along as independently as possible in society.

Gastrostomy is a surgical opening through the abdominal wall, used for a tube feeding.Gavage Feeding
Gavage Feeding is a method of feeding a baby fluids by inserting a small plastic tube through the mouth or nose into the stomach.Generalization
The use of previously learned knowledge or skills under conditions different from which they were originally learned.

Gifted & Talented (GT)
Refers to students with above average intellectual abilities.

General Learning Disabilities

According to the rules of grammar.

Gross Motor Skills
Control of large muscles in the arms, legs and torso, which are needed for activities such as running and walking.

GT (See Gifted and Talented)


The process of helping an individual develop specific skills and abilities (i.e., dressing, eating, maneuvering a wheelchair) in order to become as independent and productive as possible.

A hearing loss, whether permanent or fluctuating, which may affect the processing of linguistic information and may adversely affect educational performance.

Head Start
A federal program started in 1965 aimed at providing a comprehensive preschool program for children ages three to five from low-income families. Planned activities are designed to address individual needs and to help children attain their potential in growth and mental and physical development before starting school. Ten percent of enrollment is required to be for children with disabilities.

Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Federal regulation that outlines the confidentiality and protection of medical records.

Hearing Aid
An electronic device that conducts and amplifies sound to the ear.

Hearing Conservation
Any program undertaken to preserve hearing and to prevent hearing loss through public education, through screening programs to identify persons needing attention, and through reduction of occupational hazards that pose a threat to a worker’s hearing.

Hearing Loss Degrees
Hearing loss was originally defined in medical terms before the development of modern audiology. Today professionals use the consistent, research-based terminology of audiology, as well as less-defined educational and cultural descriptions. The following numerical values are based on the average of the hearing loss at three frequencies 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2000 Hz, in the better ear without amplification. The numerical values for the seven categories vary from author to author:

Normal hearing (-10 dB to 15 dB)
Slight loss (16 dB to 25 dB)
Mild loss (26 dB to 30 dB)
Moderate loss (31 dB to 50 dB)
Moderate/Severe (51 dB to 70 dB)
Severe loss (71 dB to 90 dB)
Profound loss (91 dB or more)

Hemiparesis is a muscle weakness or slight paralysis of one side of the body.

Hemiplegia is a complete paralysis of one side of the body.

An inherited deficiency in blood-clotting ability, which can cause serious bleeding.

Traits acquired from parents as the result of the action of a single gene or a complex of genes.

Health, Education and Welfare Department

Home Health Aid

Hearing Impaired

Higher Order Thinking
Thinking that takes place in the higher levels of the hierarchy of cognitive processing beginning from knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, to evaluation.

HIPAA (See Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act)

When a child hits another child, it is upsetting for everyone involved, including the child care provider and parents. Hitting is a form of aggression that is more typical in younger children and tapers off as children learn more appropriate ways to communicate their needs. A good approach to hitting is to observe and record the events that occur right before and right after a child hits, and then evaluate what the child is getting from hitting or the reason for the reaction. Try to find a different way for the child to get that need met.

Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within cavities called ventricles inside the brain. For more information regarding Hydrocephalus, visit the Hydrocephalus Foundation, Inc. website at: www.hydrocephalus.org

Hydrocephaly is an increased volume of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull that ordinarily produces an enlargement of the cranium.

Hypertonia refers to an increase of muscle tone.

Hypertonic means stiff or tense muscle tone.

An educated guess or theory meant to solve a problem or answer a question. A Hypothesis Statement is a concise summary of information collected during assessment that represents or explains a “best guess” regarding the reason(s) for a behavior. A hypothesis statement should allow the IEP team to spell out a three-fold process-when X occurs, the student does Y in order to achieve Z-and to translate that knowledge into an individualized behavior intervention plan.

Hypotonia refers to a decrease of muscle tone.

Hypotonic means weak or flaccid muscle tone.

Hz (Hertz)

A unit of sound frequency equal to one cycle per second; used to measure pitch.


Interagency Coordinating Council

IDEA (See Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

Identified in special education refers to the local child find efforts.

Pertains to a pathological condition of spontaneous origin; that is, not the result of some other disorder or injury.

IEP (See Individual Education Program)

IEP Team
A team of individuals comprising school professionals, the child’s parent(s), and any other individual(s) who have specialized knowledge of the child. The IEP team is responsible for developing the goals and objectives for the child, and writing the program (IEP) that will serve as a “road map” for the student’s teachers and related service providers; they are also responsible for reviewing and revising the plan. The composition of who is on the IEP team is specified in IDEA at 300.344

IFSP (See Individual Family Service Plan)

Reacting to a situation without reflecting on the consequences.

Inclusion is characterized by a feeling of belonging, not by mere proximity. Inclusion is children of all abilities learning, playing and working together.

Identified in special education refers to the local child find efforts.

Indirect Assessment
Gathering information about a student from other sources besides directly observing the student.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a written education plan for students ages 5 to 22 with disabilities, developed by a team of professionals, (teachers, therapists, etc.) and the child’s parent(s). It is reviewed and updated yearly. It contains a description of the child’s level of development, learning needs, goals and objectives, and services the child will receive.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
A written plan for an infant or toddler (ages birth through 2 years old) and his or her family which may be interagency in nature; it is developed by a team of people who have worked with the child and the family and is reviewed and updated yearly; it contains a description of the child’s level of development, needs of the child and family, outcomes and objectives, and services to be provided.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 and 1997 is the federal law that addresses intervention services for children. The section of the law covering children from birth through age 2 was called Part H of IDEA. Each state passes its own additional law and writes rules to be followed in carrying out federal law. This state law brings together services from the departments of education, health, and human services. Because the three agencies are working together in a coordinated way, families have easier access to services.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA 2004)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 is the new name given to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when it was reauthorized and changed in late 2004. This law is the major federal education law concerning students with disabilities. IDEA 2004 ensures that students with disabilities have access to a free appropriate education in public schools.

Infant Toddler Program
A program that provides early intervention services to help families who have concerns about the development of their young child (birth to three).

Inferior Pincher Grasp
Inferior Pincher Grasp means that the thumb, the index finger, and the middle finger engage in a functional three-point pinch.

Informal Assessment
Informal assessment means observing and recording a child’s behavior over time and in a variety of settings utilizing informal documentation, not formal assessment tools.

Restraint or control exercised over an impulse, drive, or response tendency.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
The score of an intelligence test that is a form of psychological testing of an individual’s capacity to learn and deal effectively with his/her environment.

Interagency refers to the utilization of multiple agencies in a community working together to provide children and their families with a wide range of resources.

A planned activity to increase students skills. May be preventative (keeping possible problems from becoming a serious disability), remedial (increasing skills) or compensatory (giving the individual new ways to deal with the disability).

Itinerant Teacher
A teacher who regularly visits a student who is unable to attend school (for whatever reasons) in his or her home or in a hospital setting to provide tutorial instruction.


A stage of speech development characterized by unintelligible jumble of syllables.


The study of bodily movement, particularly as it relates to and affects communication.

Kinesthetic Method
A method of teaching words by using the muscles and motor movement.


Lead Agency

Landau-Kleffner Syndrome (LKS)
A neurological disorder in which normally developing children lose the ability to speak or understand speech, often suddenly. The syndrome is usually accompanied by epileptic seizures. Children may also have behavior problems, or appear autistic. Medication can treat the seizures

A system used by a group of people for giving meaning to sounds, words, gestures, and other symbols to enable communication with one another. Languages can use vocal or nonvocal symbols, or use movements and physical symbols instead of sounds.

Language Pathology
Study of the causes and treatment of disorders of symbolic behavior.

Learning Disability

LEA (See Local Education Agency)

Lead Agency
The agency within a state or area in charge of overseeing and coordinating early childhood programs and services; in Minnesota, the state lead agency is the Department of Children, Families and Learning. Local communities may identify a local lead agency.

Learning Disability
Learning Disability is a general term that describes specific kinds of learning problems. A learning disability can cause a person to have challenges learning and using certain skills. The skills most often affected are: reading, writing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and doing math. For more information, contact www.ldonline.org.

Learning Strategies
An instructional method that is based on teaching metacognitive strategies in order to learn academic and behavioral skills.

Learning Styles
Defines how people prefer to receive information according to their senses (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The educational setting or program that provides a student with as much contact as possible with children without disabilities, while still appropriately meeting all of the child’s learning and physical needs.

LEP (See Limited English Proficiency)

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
Children whose primary language is other than English.

Lip Reading
The interpretation of lip and mouth movements, facial expressions, gestures, prosodic and melodic aspects of speech, structural charactersitics of language, and topical and contextual clues. Also called speechreading.

Local Education Agency (LEA)
The public schools operating in accordance with statutes, regulations, and policies of the State Department of Education.

Lengthwise, running in the direction of the long axis of the body, organ, or part.

The intensity factor in sound.

LRE (See Least Restrictive Environment)

Long Term Care


Medical Assistance (Medicaid) or Mental AgeMainstreaming
Mainstreaming means providing any services, including education, for children with disabilities, in a setting with other children who do not have disabilities“ benefiting all children.Maladaptive Behavior
Those behaviors judged as inappropriate or ineffective in a given context, such as the classroom. In general, such behaviors interfere with a child’s learning or social interaction and lead to discomfort.Managed Care
A medical insurance process whereby medical services are only authorized through a primary care provider rather than an individual being able to see a specialist or participate in a therapy program directly.

Manifestation Determination Hearing
Hearings at which a decision must be made as to whether or not a school policy violation by a special education student is related to his/her disability.

The process of maturing or developing mentally, physically, or emotionally.

Maturational Lag
A slowness in certain specialized aspects of neurological development.

The arithmetical average, the sum of all scoresdivided by the number of scores.

The ability to store and retrieve previously learned information.

Mental Age (MA)
An expression of the level of performance obtained on a standardized test, such as the Stanford-Binet, compared with the performance of the average person of a given chronological age. For example: a child with a CA (Chronological Age) of 6-0 who passes all tests at the six-year level would have a MA of 6-0, etc.


Mental Health or Mentally Handicapped

Mild-Moderate Mentally Handicapped

Mobility Aides
Examples of Mobility Aides include:
1. Sighted guide – a person who is sighted, who takes a person who is blind, to a destination.
2. Dog guide – a specifically trained dog, used by a person who is blind, to take him or her to a destination
3. Cane – a white or silver cane often with a red tip used for getting to and from a destination.
4. Electronic Aides – these are usually more successful when used as a companion with the cane. Two of the more acceptable ones are the Laser Cane and the Kayne Spectacles.

An avenue of acquiring sensation; the visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory modalities are the most common sense modalities.

A procedure for learning in which the individual observes a model perform some task and then imitates the performance of the model. This form of learning accounts for much verbal and motor learning in young children.

A group of letters that convey meaning but cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. For example, a word such as man or the part of the word such as ed in stopped.

A stimulus to action; something (a need or desire) that causes one to act.

Pertaining to the origin or execution of muscular activity.

Motor Development
Physical development.

Mental Retardation

Moderate-Severe Mentally Impaired

Generally applied to training procedures which simultaneously utilize more than one sense modality.

Muscle Tone
Muscle Tone refers to a condition in which a muscle is in a steady state of contraction.

Music Therapy
A therapeutic service to meet recreational or educational goals. Music therapy includes playing instruments, moving to music, singing, and listening to music. It is utilized in a variety of applications in schools, hospitals, and private settings through both individual and group approaches, often in conjunction with other types of therapy. Both music education and music therapy contribute to special education by promoting learning and self-growth through enjoyable activities.


National Association of the Deaf. www.nad.org

National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils. www.nacdd.org

NAEYC (See National Association for the Education of Young Children)

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. Founded in 1926, NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children with nearly 100,000 members, a national network of over 300 local, state, and regional Affiliates, and a growing global alliance of like-minded organizations. Visit the National Association for the Education of Young Children website at: www.naeyc.org

National Early Childhood and Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC)
The organization funded by the U.S. Department of Education that provides technical assistance in the area of early childhood special education.www.nectac.org

Natural Environment
The natural or everyday settings for your child. These are places where the child would be if they didn’t have a special developmental concern. It is where all children would be (for example, home, childcare, parks, etc.).

NCLB (See No Child Left Behind)

NECTAC (See National Early Childhood and Technical Assistance Center)

Negative Reinforcement
A procedure for strengthening behavior when the consequence of that behavior is the termination or avoidance of an aversive stimulus. That is, the response is followed by the avoidance or termination of some event noxious to the individual.

National Federation of the Blind www.nfb.org

National Information Center for Handicapped Children and Youth. http://www.nichcy.org/resources

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Reauthorized in 2001, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the principal federal law affecting education from kindergarten through high school for children “at risk.” The NCLB provides opportunities for children to learn and progress.

Not able to walk independently.

A constant, involuntary, more or less cyclical movement of the eyeball. Movement may be in any direction.


Occupational Therapist (OT)
A professional who provides therapy services based on engagement in meaningful activities of daily life such as self-care skills, education, recreation, work or social interaction.

Occupational Therapy
A therapy or treatment provided by an Occupational Therapist that helps an individual develop mental or physical skills that will aid in daily living; it focuses on the use of hands and fingers, on coordination of movement, and on self help skills such as dressing, eating with a fork and spoon, etc.

Pertaining to the eye.

Relates to movements of the eyeball.

ODD (See Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
The Office for Civil Rights enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.www.hhs.gov/ocr/

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
Dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing oversight, leadership, and financial support to assist States and local districts. OSEP administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html

Other Health Impaired

OI (See Orthopedic Impairment)

Pertaining to the sense of smell.

OM (O&M) (See Orientation and Mobility)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is typified by children who exhibit defiant and anti-social behaviors over a long period of time and in various environments.

A health care provider who specializes in refractive errors, prescribes eyeglasses or contact lenses, and diagnoses and manages conditions of the eye as regulated by state laws. May also perform low vision examinations.

Oral Method
Method of teaching communication of language, to people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, by spoken words.

Oral Motor
Movement involving the mouth.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M)
O&M, is an acronym for Orientation and Mobility (State Services for the Blind). Orientation and Mobility services are provided by qualified personnel to those who are blind or visually impaired. O and M services can enable a child to safely move in school and other environments.

Individuals use of their remaining senses to establish their position and relationship to objects in the environment.

Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
Any orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

OSEP (See Office of Special Education Programs)

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services

OT (See Occupational Therapist)

Other Health Impaired
An educational classification that describes students who have chronic or acute health problems that cause limited strength, vitality, or alertness that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

The study and treatment of the ear.


Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights. www.pacer.org

The roof of the mouth.

Paralysis of the legs and lower part of the body.

One whose position is either instructional in nature or who delivers other direct services to individuals and/or their parents. Also works under the supervision of a professional staff member who is responsible for the overall management of the program area including the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional programs and the individual’s progress.

Part B
Part B refers to the section of the federal special education regulations that address school-aged children.

Part C
Part C refers to the section of the federal special education regulations that address children birth through two years old.

Partially Sighted
A term formally used to indicate visual acuity of 20/70 to 20/200, but also used to describe visual impairment in which usable vision is present.

The study of the nature of disease and its resulting structural and functional changes.

See Pervasive Developmental Disorder

See Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not otherwise specified

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)
Children with autism often handle visual/graphic information more easily than auditory/ verbal information, although many children with autism may prefer use of peripheral vision to central vision. One successful approach to developing communication is the use of the picture exchange communication system (PECS). This fairly simple approach requires the child to select a picture card, approach the adult, and hand the adult the card to make a request or comment. This approach has several advantages for children with autism:

  • It focuses on functional communication.
  • It requires little interaction and exchange.
  • It relies more on visual information than on auditory.
  • It provides an acceptable replacement behavior for children whose communicative behaviors have become disruptive and inappropriate.


The study and treatment of children and their care.

Receiving and deriving meaning from information received through the senses.

Perceptual Motor Development
Development of children’s ability to move different parts of their bodies as they get involved with objects and people they perceive. Requires a combination of motor and cognitive skills.

A term describing the interaction of the various channels of perception with motor activity. The channels of perception include visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic.

Performance Deficit
An ability to engage in a desired behavior, but failing to do so when specific conditions are present.

The tendency for one to persist in a specific act or behavior after it is no longer appropriate.

Petit Mal Seizure
A type of seizure that is characterized by short lapses of consciousness.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PDD or pervasive developmental disorder is a behavioral disorder of speech, communication, social interaction, and repetitive type compulsive behavior. Autism is a form of PDD. There are five types of PDD’s. The most commonly encountered are PDD NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified), childhood autism, and Asperger’s syndrome.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified
Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a condition in which some – but not all – features of autism or another explicitly identified Pervasive Developmental Disorder are identified.

Physically Handicapped

Pathological fear of some specific stimulus or situation.

The smallest unit of sound that still conveys meaning such as the m of mat and the b of bat.

Phonemic Awareness
An understanding of phonemes the smallest phonetic, or sound, unit in a word that still conveys meaning, such as m of mat and the b of bat.

Phonetic Method
An approach to the treatment of articulation difficulties in which the therapist directs attention to the specific movements and placements of the articulatory structures.

A method of teaching reading and spelling that trains beginners to associate letters with their sound values the way words sound when spoken.

Physical Therapy
Therapy or treatment provided by a physical therapist that helps improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and/or nerves.

Physically Impaired

The level of a tone or a sound.


Public Law

PL 94-142
PL 94-142 refers to the Education of Handicapped Children Act of 1975. (This law became PL 101-476 and then later PL 105-15). This Law requires that public schools provide a free, appropriate public education to eligible children ages 3-22, regardless of disability. It is also called the Education of all Handicapped Children Act, and is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.)

PL 99-457
PL 99-457 refers to the Education of the Handicapped Amendment of 1986. It relates to infants and toddlers. (This law became PL 101-476, which later became PL105-15). Public Law 99-457 is an amendment to PL 94-142 passed in 1986 which requires states and territories to provide a free, appropriate public education to all eligible children ages 3-5 by school year 1991-92. It provides funds for states and territories to offer programs and services to infants and children with disabilities, ages birth through 2 years

PL 101-476
PL 101-476 refers to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 (IDEA). (This law was formerly identified as PL 94-142 and PL 99-457. It later became PL 105-15).

PL 105-15
PL 105-15 refers to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA).

The classroom, program, and/or therapy that is selected for a student with a disability.

Profoundly Mentally Retarded (Persons)

Physically and Other Health Impaired

Positive Reinforcement
Any stimulus which, when made contingent upon a particular response, will strengthen that response. The acid test of which stimuli are positively reinforcing to a given individual is whether or not it does strengthen a given response. Positive reinforcement is a very effective way to influence children’s behavior. It is one of the most basic of all guidance strategies. It can be verbal, physical, social, and tangible. It includes an encouraging phrase, a pat on the back, a smile, a favorite activity, a sticker, or other prizes. Each child will respond differently to each type of reinforcement, so in order to be effective, we must find the reinforcement which the child values. (Kaiser, Rasminsky, 2003).

Occurring after birth.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Occurs as a result of exposure to a traumatic event or events — whether a single ordeal, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or act of violence, or years of abuse or neglect

Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS)
A genetic condition caused by abnormalities on chromosome 15, which is missing genes that usually come from the father. The disorder causes cognitive disabilities, low muscle tone, shortness of stature, and an uncontrollable appetite that can lead to obesity.

In speech therapy, pragmatic generally refers to the use of language in social contexts, including rules that govern language functions andforms of messages when communicating; day-to-day practical applications of language and communication.

Pre-Operational Stage
Second stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, in which children’s thought is dominated by what is seen.

Existing or occurring prior to birth.

Preschool Special Education
An educational program that is designed to meet the unique developmental needs of an individual child with a disability who is three, four, or five years of age. It is a child-focused educational effort. Preschool Special Education is sometimes referred to as Section 619 of the law.

Present Levels of Educational Performance (PLEP)
Statements written in the IEP that accurately describe the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.

Prior Written Notice (PWN)
Prior Written Notice (PWN) must be used to inform parents of their rights. It is a form that schools must use to tell parents why they’re doing what they’re doing, or why they’re not doing what they’re not doing. They must tell parents in writing.

Prediction or judgment concerning the course, duration, termination, and recovery from a pathological condition.

Progress Reports
A procedure designed to determine if the objectives of the individual’s program plan are being achieved, and to continue or modify the plan, as appropriate.

The position of lying on one’s stomach.

Capable of receiving stimuli originating in muscles, tendons, and other internal tissues.

A receptor which responds to pressure, position, or stretch.

An artificial replacement for a limb, tooth, or other part of the body.

Proxmial stability
A child’s ability to sit upright and exert trunk control.

A specialist in the field of psychology who usually has a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in psychology.

Pertaining to the motor effects of psychological processes. Psychomotor tests are tests of motor skill which depend upon sensory or perceptual motor coordination.

Psychosocial Development
The psychological development of a person in relation to his or her social environment.

Physical Therapist


Paralysis affecting all four limbs.

Quadruped refers to those who move about on all four limbs (e.g. crawling).


RDS (See Respiratory Distress Syndrome)

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
RAD is characterised by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before the age of 5 years. RAD arises from a failure to form normal attachments to primary care giving figures in early childhood. For more information regarding RAD, visit the website at: www.radkid.org/

Receptive Language
Language that is spoken or written by others and received by the individual. The receptive language skills are listening and reading.

In special education, families are referred to a local early intervention system for screening and evaluation to see if eligibility criteria are met for special education services.

A movement performed involuntarily as a result of the stimulation of a sensory nerve which sends an impulse through a connecting nerve to a nerve center and thence to a motor nerve; this functional unit of the nervous system is called a reflex arc.

The return to a previous or earlier developmental phase of adaptation, partially or symbolically, of more infantile ways of gratification.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973
This act guarantees that individuals with disabilities have access to buildings and programs for which federal dollars have been spent and it protects the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against in jobs where federal dollars are being used. This legislation has been instrumental in increasing the accessibility of parks, monuments, museums, schools, universities, and other public buildings for individuals with disabilities. Section 504 of this law addresses education specifically, and provides for accommodations and related services for students in general education.

A procedure that applies reinforcers to strengthen a behavior.

Related Services
Related Services include transportation and development, corrective, and other support services that a child with disabilities requires in order to benefit from special education. Examples of related services include: audiology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, counseling services, interpreters for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and medical services for diagnostic and evaluation purposes.

Residential School
This school provides a home-away-from-home setting for children, and is primarily used for children with multiple disabilities or whose school district cannot give them the special help they need.

Resource Teacher
A licensed special education teacher who works with students with disabilities and may also act as a consultant to other teachers, providing materials and methods to help children who are having challenges within the regular classroom. The resource teacher may work from a centralized resource room within a school where appropriate materials are housed.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Respiratory Distress Syndrome is often called Hyaline Membrane Disease. It causes breathing problems in newborns.

A temporary break from providing care for a child with a disability.

Rett Syndrome (RS)
A diagnosis along the autism spectrum.

A tendency for the muscles to become very stiff after they have been extended.

Range Of Motion

Rote Memorization
Putting information into long-term memory through constant repetition without necessarily comprehending the information.


SBS/SIS (See Shaken Baby Syndrome/Shaken Impact Syndrome)

The process of looking at a child’s development to find out if there are any areas of concern. It is used to recommend children for more in-depth evaluation

Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a part of federal law that protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. This law is closely intertwined with IDEA. Children with disabilities who are not eligible for special education may qualify for accommodations under Section 504.

Section 619
Section 619, of Part B of IDEA, requires States to provide preschool services to children with disabilities, ages three to five.

Signing Exact English

Self-Help Skill
The ability to care for oneself; usually refers to basic habits of dressing, eating, etc.

A student’s self perception.

The level of a student’s self perception.

Often referred to as stemming, Self-Stimulation is abnormal behavior (such as head banging, watching the fingers wiggle, or rocking side to side) that interferes with a child’s ability to “sit still” and pay attention to, or participate in, an activity.

Pertaining to the meaning and interpretation of words and phrases.

Involving a combination of sensory inputs and motoric outputs.

Sensory Integration Disorder (SID or SI)
Sensory Integration Disorder (SID or SI) is also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction. It refers to an inability to process information received through the senses, causing problems with learning, development, and behavior.

Sensory Integration Treatment (SIT)
A technique of occupational therapy that provides playful, meaningful activities that enhance an individual’s sensory intake and lead to more adaptive functioning in daily life.

Sensory Perception
The direct awareness or acquaintance through the senses.

Sensory Processing
Sensory Processing is the ability to take in information through the senses (touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing) to put it together with information, memories, and knowledge stored in the brain, and to make a meaningful response. Difficulty in processing and organizing sensory information causes dysfunction.

Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a complex disorder of the brain. One way to understand SPD is to see it as a misfiring in the nervous system. People who have SPD may misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement.

A term applied to the combination of the input of sensations and the output of motor activity. The motor activity reflects what is happening to the sensory organs such as the visual, auditory, tactual, and kinesthetic sensations.

Sensory-Motor Stage
First stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, in which children use physical senses and motor capacities to interact with and learn about the environment.

Service Coordinator
Someone who acts as a coordinator of IFSP services for children ages birth through two and works in partnership with the family and providers.

Severely Handicapped (Person)

Shaken Baby Syndrome/Shaken Impact Syndrome(SBS/SIS)
An array of signs and symptoms that are the result of an injury to an infant or toddler, which caused the brain to move back and forth in the skull. SBS/SIS is a traumatic brain injury.

Short Term Objective (STO)
Part of a child’s IEP that breaks down an annual goal into small, measurable steps.

A Shunt is a tube used to re-route cerebrospinal fluid in the brain of a person who experiences hydrocephaly.

Sensory Integration

SID (See Sensory Integration Disorder)

Sign Language
Sign systems developed for education purposes which use manual signs in English word order that have been invented to represent elements of English visually.

Skill Deficit
Skill Deficit refers to a lack of skills needed to successfully perform an action. When referring to a social skill deficit, it refers to a lack of skills needed to interact with others in a socially acceptable manner.

Speech Language

SLP (See Speech Language Pathologist)

Special Needs

Social Perception
The ability to interpret stimuli in the social environment and appropriately relate such interpretations to the social situation.

Social-Emotional stage
Development of social relationships, social skills, and sense of self as a social and emotional human being.

Shaping of individual characteristics and behavior through the stimuli and reinforcements that the social environment provides.

State Planning Agency

A convulsive involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.

A type of cerebral palsy in which there is limited motion, primarily in bending flexor muscles, when the limb is straightened. It involves an increase of muscle tone.

Special Education
Specialized instruction tailor-made to fit the unique learning strengths and needs of students with disabilities. A major goal of special education is to teach the skills and knowledge a child needs to be as independent as possible. Special education programs focus on academics and also include therapy and other related services to help a child overcome difficulties in all areas of development. These services may be provided in a variety of educational settings but are required by IDEA to be delivered in the least restrictive environment.

Special Educator
One who is licensed to teach children with disabilities.

Specific Learning Disability
A condition within the individual affecting learning relative to potential. A specific learning disability is demonstrated by a significant discrepancy between a pupil’s general intellectual ability and academic achievement in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, mathematical calculations or mathematics reasoning, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, and written expression; demonstrated primarily in academic functioning but may also affect self-esteem, career development, and life adjustment skills.

Speech Concerns, not talking
Speech Delay is fairly common in preschool age children. Most young children, by the time they enter a formal school setting, use speech that is easily understood by the majority of listeners. However, some children take longer to acquire specific speech sounds or to develop speech. It is important for both parents and early childhood educators to be knowledgeable about common causes of speech delay and speech sound acquisition, as well as signs that indicate that a child’s speech is causing delays in one or more developmental domains.

Speech Impaired
Communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, which adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Speech Language Disorders (SL Disorders)
Problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor function. These delays and disorders range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech and feeding. Some causes of speech and language disorders include hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, drug abuse, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. Frequently, however, the cause is unknown.

Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)
A trained therapist, who provides treatment to help a person develop or improve articulation, communication skills, and oral-motor skills. A Speech Language Pathologist also helps children with speech errors and/or those with difficulties in language patterns.

Speech Pathology
The study and treatment of all aspects of functional and organic speech defects and disorders;
often the same as speech correction.

Speech/Language Therapy
Therapy or treatment by a speech therapist to improve speech and/or language, communication, or oral-motor skills.

Spina Bifida
Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect that happens in the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column doesn’t close completely. For more information regarding Spina Bifida, visit the Spina Bifida Association’s website at: www.sbaa.org

Speech Language (impaired)

Splinter Skill
A skill mastered ahead of the usual developmental sequence.

State Services for the Blind (and Visually Handicapped)

Social Security Disability Insurance

Supplemental Security Income

Standardized Tests
Tests that use consistent directions, consistent criteria for scoring, and consistent procedures.

State Board of Education
Determines public school and vocational education policy and manages and directs all public schools under provisions of applicable laws.

State Department of Education
Oversees all aspects of education in the State.

A disturbance of rhythm and fluency of speech by an intermittent blocking. Stuttering is a disorder of speech fluency that interrupts the forward flow of speech. Everyone is disfluent at times, but what differs between children who stutter and those with normal speech disfluencies is the kind and amount of the disfluencies. Almost all children go through a stage of disfluency in early speech development, usually between the ages of two and five. As children mature and sharpen their communication skills, these disfluencies usually disappear, but not always. We still do not know what causes stuttering; possible causes could be in coordination of the speech muscles, the rate of language development, and life stresses. For more information contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 1-800-638-8255,www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/stuttering.htm or Stuttering Foundation of America 1-800-364-1677 www.stuttersfa.org

The position of lying on one’s back.

Social Worker

An observable characterstic, including both the physical and psychological aspects.

A complex of symptoms; a set of symptoms which occur together.

The grammar system of a language. The linguistic rules of word order and the function of words in a sentence.


An abnormal rapidity of heart action.

An abnormal repetition of respiration.

Perceptible to the sense of touch; tangible.

Tactile Defensiveness
An abnormal sensitivity to touch indicated by avoidance or rejection of touching and handling. A child who has tactile defensiveness may resist touching or being touched by something that is wet, that has an unusual texture, or that has an unfamiliar temperature or pressure.

Target Behavior
A behavior identified for change that is observable and measurable, defined so that two persons can agree as to its occurrence. This behavior has been identified by professionals and family as being in need of instruction.

TBI (See Traumatic Brain Injury)

TDD is an acronym for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. TTY is a derivative of Teletype, which is a registered trademark of the Teletype Corporation.

The Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) model is a specially designed, highly structured, classroom program that specifically adapts the activities and environment of the classroom to mitigate those factors that interfere with learning. It supports the development of appropriate behavior and communication patterns and teaches basic academic skills (Mesibov, Schopler, & Hearsey, 1994). www.teacch.com

Technology Dependent
A condition where a person relies on medical equipment, such as a ventilator, to stay alive.

The treatment or application of different techniques to improve specific conditions for the cure, allevation, or prevention of disorders.

Time-out is a behavior management strategy that actually refers to time-out from positive reinforcement. With time-out, all reinforcement ceases as the student is essentially removed from a situation that is reinforcing.

A noise in the ears, as ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, etc.

Trainable Mentally Retarded (Persons)

Token Reinforcement
Behavioral intervention that uses a token or tangible item as a reward.

Tourette Syndrome
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that becomes evident in early childhood or adolescence between the ages of 2 and 15. Tourette syndrome is defined by multiple motor and vocal tics lasting for more than one year. Many people have only motor tics or only vocal tics. The first symptoms usually are involuntary movements (tics) of the face, arms, limbs or trunk. These tics are frequent, repetitive and rapid. The most common first symptom is a facial tic (eye blink, nose twitch, grimace), and is replaced or added to by other tics of the neck, trunk, and limbs. For more information regarding Tourette Syndrome, visit the Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. website at: www.tsa-usa.org

The movement from one service, location, or program to another. Young children with disabilities transition at age three from early intervention to preschool special education services or to other community settings and services (early intervention and special educaiton). Adolescents transition from school to adult services.

A related service. If it is determined that the child needs this service to benefit from their education, the school district must provide the transportation, contract with another agency, or contract with the parents to bring their child to school. Transportation could mean round trip, home to school and school to home, services.

Any experience which inflicts serious emotional , psychological, or physical damage to a person.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Physical damage to the brain that could result in physical, behavioral, or mental changes depending on which area of the brain is injured. TBI could impact a students education; special education services might be needed.

A continuous quivering, an involuntary movement of part of the body, or alternate muscle movements.


United Council for the Blind

United Cerebral Palsy

United Handicapped Federation

Pertaining to one side of the body.

Unique Experience
The idea that each student has a unique learning method and experience based on their own
knowledge and experiences.


Verbal Conditioning
Application of conditioning principles of speech. Verbal behavior can be controlled by the systematic application of reinforcement to specific aspects of speech.

Verbal Expression
Ability to communicate orally. Typically referred to as oral expression.

A sensation of whirling or dizziness from overstimulation of the semicircular canal receptors; often associated with disease of the ear and deafness.

Having to do with the body’s system for maintaining equilibrium.

Visual Impairment

Visual Acuity
The sharpness of vision with respect to the ability to distinguish detail; often measured as the eye’s ability to distinguish the details and shapes of objects at a designated distance; involves central (macular) vision.

Visual Perception
The identification, organization, and interpretation of sensory data received by the individual through the eye.

Visual-Motor Coordination
The ability to coordinate vision with the movements of the body or parts of the body.

Visually Impaired
Any degree of vision loss that affects an individual’s ability to perform the tasks of daily life; caused by a visual system that is not working properly or not formed correctly.

Refers to words used to communicate. These words are used in speaking, and are recognized in listening or in print.

Vocational Education
Organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, or for additional preparation for a career requiring other than a college or advanced degree.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
A program of rehabilitation through job training focusing on the participant moving toward gainful employment.

A conventional vocal sound produced by certain positions of the speech organs which offer little obstruction to the air stream and which form a series of resonators above the level of the larynx in the vocal tracts. Distinguished from consonant.