Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
ABA is a therapeutic intervention for children with disabilities like autism and or pervasive developmental disorders.

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.

A barrier free environment that allows maximum participation by individuals with disabilities.

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.