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A-Z a Directory, TAKE 2!

Even nearly seven years into my journey as a special needs parent, I still find myself feverishly googling acronyms or a word that a therapist uses, in order to educate myself and make sure I am staying up to speed on my child's progress.

There are many times doctors, therapists, teachers, or even other parents use words that I do not know. They aren't doing it on purpose-they just forget that I didn't earn a degree in this area or that my path hasn't taken me down that particular rabbit hole of google search just yet.

I was thrown into this journey one day and never looked back. I'm still learning everyday. I want to share with you some of my learning in a simple way- as promised, a second A-Z directory of autism or special needs related terms. MANY of the terms in this list are education related, but many are not. There is also a previous blog that shares different terms that are good to know!

I'm sure as I go-I will be able to compile a third, fourth, fifth list in the future.

For now, Here we go---

A ADA The Americans with Disabilities Act is a United States law passed in 1990 to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and to improve their access to services such as employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.

B BIP A Behavior Intervention Plan is developed for a child who has demonstrated behavior(s) of concern. The IEP team develops a BIP using the information found through the FBA (functional behavior assessment) and outlines specific supports and procedures to be implemented in an effort to reduce or eliminate the behavior(s) of concern.

C CASE MANAGER is a professional at a hospital, insurance company, therapy office, or doctor's office who works with patients to develop a treatment plan and make sure all needs are met. Case managers are usually trained nurses or social workers.

D DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the official system for classification of psychological and psychiatric disorders prepared by and published by the American Psychiatric Association.

E ECHOLALIA is the repetition of work, phrases, intonation, or sound of the speech of others. People may not be able to communicate effectively because they struggle to express their own thoughts. Children with ASD often display echolalia while learning how to talk.

F FBA A Functional Behavior Assessment is developed by the IEP team if a child with a disability demonstrates behavior(s) of concern. The team gathers data and meets to analyze the behavior(s) of concern and determine the function of each behavior (what the child is trying to communicate or accomplish through the behavior). An FBA is a required preliminary step for creating a Behavior Intervention Plan(BIP).

G GDD Global developmental delay (GDD) is diagnosed when a child under 5 years is significantly delayed in two or more developmental domains, including activities of daily living, motor activities, cognitive abilities, speech/language development, and personal/social development.


Hypo Responsiveness is the abnormal insensitivity or under reactivity to sensory input, in which the brain fails to register incoming stimuli appropriately so the child does not respond to the sensory stimulation.

Hyper Responsiveness is the abnormal sensitivity or over reactivity to sensory input. This is the state of feeling overwhelmed by what most people would consider common or ordinary stimuli of sound, sight, taste, touch, or smell.

I IFSP An Individualized Family Service Plan is a personalized plan for young children with disabilities that outlines health and wellness goals and describes the steps that will be taken to reach those goals. The IFSP is developed by the child's family, doctors, and early childhood educators.

J JOINT ATTENTION includes sharing interests, meeting the gaze of another, and gesturing or pointing. Most children will encourage playmates to participate in their experience by saying, “Watch me!” They show interest in their environment and often share what they see. Children on the spectrum may not participate in joint activities or share interests with their peers.

K KINESTHETIC LEARNING Students who are more sensitive to the physical world around them benefit from kinesthetic learning approaches. They appreciate textures, making models, working out jigsaw puzzles, and likely enjoy sports and exercise. To educate those who prefer this type of learning style, it’s important to incorporate physical elements into the lesson.

L LEARNING DISABILITY is a classification that includes several disorders in which a person has difficulty learning in a typical manner. The disability is usually caused by an unknown disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive and process information.

M MASKING involves copying neurotypical behaviors and using them in social situations to hide behaviors that people feel won't be accepted. While both men and women are known to use masking, it is particularly common in girls and women on the autism spectrum and is thought to be one of the reasons females are less likely to receive a diagnosis.

N NATURAL ENVIRONMENT The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that services be provided in a child’s normal environment, which includes places where a child typically lives, works or plays.

O ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, defiance, or vindictiveness towards others of authority.

P PRAGMATICS are the social rules for using functional spoken language in a meaningful context or conversation.

Q QUALITY OF LIFE A person’s quality of life is influenced by a lot of different things. Once our most basic needs are met such as having enough to eat and drink, then we start to think of the more complicated aspects involved in creating a happy meaningful life. Some of the things that help us to have a good quality of life are: Having meaningful relationships – friends, having a safe and stable home, being healthy, having financial security, being respected and feeling heard, and having choices.

R RTI Response to Intervention (RTI) is an instructional approach and preventative tool used by schools to ensure that all students have equal access to high-quality, instruction that is matched to their needs.

S SCRIPTING Scripting is repeating phrases, words, intonations, or sounds that have been produced by others. Often this entails repeating dialogue from movies, videos, and other media. Still, individuals with autism can also script from other resources like a favorite book or something someone else has said.

T TRANSITION PLANNING is a planned process for preparing a teen for early adulthood and beyond. This includes finding new doctors or other health care providers, taking a more active role in managing one's health care, and deciding where to live and work, if applicable.

U UDL Universal Design for Learning is a term borrowed from architecture and applied to education that involves offering a variety of accommodations to all students in order to maximize on the various styles of learning, including those with special needs.

V VESTIBULAR SYSTEM A vestibular system or sensory system gives an individual awareness of spatial orientation and balance so they can coordinate movements safely. Individuals with autism are often challenged in managing their movements, such as how they walk, run or freeze.

W WAIVERS are for people with disabilities or chronic medical conditions. They are a request from their state to the federal government to remove restrictions on the way Medicaid money is spent. Medicaid waiver programs help provide services to people who would otherwise be in an institution, nursing home, or hospital so that they can receive long-term care in their own communities.

X EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR Extended school year services are a special education program and services provided during July and August. They may be recommended for students with disabilities who require special education over the summer to prevent substantial regression.

Y YOUTH ADVOCATE PROGRAM offers an array of programs and services for children and families dealing with serious emotional, behavioral, psychological, or development issues in South Carolina. The South Carolina Youth Advocate Program is a provider of foster care and community-based services. For more information:

Z ZPD The zone of proximal development (ZPD), or zone of potential development, refers to the range of abilities an individual can perform with the guidance of an expert, but cannot yet perform on their own.

All my love and support, Anna



National Resource Directory

VeryWell Mind

Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities


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