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Inclusion and Special Education Terminology Glossary

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Special Education Terminology Glossary

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ABC Analysis
A technique to identify the relationship between environmental factors and behavior (antecedent-behavior-consequence).
ABC Chart (See Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence Chart)
Abduction means to move away from the middle of the body.
Academic Aptitude
Ability needed for schoolwork; likelihood of success in mastering academic work, as estimated from measures of the necessary abilities. (Also called scholastic aptitude.)
American Council of the Blind www.acb.org
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 substatially change the instructional content.
Achievement Age
The average age at which students achieve a particular score. ie: if the achievement age corresponding to a score of 36 on a reading test is 10 years, 7 months (10-7), this means that pupils 10 years, 7 months achieve, on the average, a score of 36 on that test.
Achievement Test
A test that measures a student’s performace in academic areas such as math, reading, and writing.
Association for Children with Learning Disabilities
Acting Out
Behavior characterized by inappropriate physical and/or verbal responses unacceptable within the environment or setting.
Acuteness, as of hearing.
ADA (See Americans with Disabilities Act)
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)
Adduction means to move toward the middle of the body.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
The degree of progress for children in academic areas established by the State Education Agency.
ADHD (See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Activities of Daily Living
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.
Age Equivalent
Aid to Families with Dependent Children
Emotional feeling tone or mood.
An adjective referring to any variety of feelings, emotional accompaniment.
Age-Based Norms
Norms for which comparisons are based upon age often used in developmental scales.
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).
Adaptive Learning Device
Step-by-step procedure used to solve a problem; use of formulas or mathematical shortcuts.
Alphabetic Principle
This principle is characteristic of English and other alphabetic languages (as opposed to languages such as Chinese which uses characters). It refers to the systematic and predictable relationship between letters and spoken sounds.
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.
Asperger Syndrome
Asperger syndrome is a neurobiological disorder that can impact behavior and sensory systems, as well as visual and auditory processing. It is an autism spectrum disorder and shares many of the characteristics of pervasive developmental disorder; not otherwise specified, high-functioning autism, and nonverbal learning disorder.
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.
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.
Analogue Assessment
A procedure that involves a contrived set of conditions that are used to test the accuracy of a hypothesis statement. It allows school personnel to show that a relationship exists between specific classroom events and the student’s behavior.
Analytical Mode Or Style
One type of conceptual style based largely on a breakdown and analysis of the smallest component parts, or units, of any problem or idea.
Anecdotal Report
An objective, descriptive procedure for recording and analyzing observations of a child’s behavior.
Annual Goals
Statement describing the anticipated growth of a student’s skill and knowledge written into a student’s yearly Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Annual Performance Report (APR)
The report that is submitted by each State to the U.S. Department of Education; it provides data and information on compliance and results of special education for children with disabilities.
Some irregularity in development or a deviation from the standard.
Anoxia refers to a severe form of hypoxia which often results in permanent damage.
A condition, event, or object that precedes a behavior.
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.
Collections of stories, articles, and other texts.
Anxiety Reaction
An abnormal and overwhelming apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (i.e., sweating, increased pulse, breathing difficulty).
Assurance Of Mastery
American Psychological Association, American Psychoanalytic Association; American Psychiatric Association.
APE (See Adapted Physical Education)
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.
APR (See Annual Performance Report)
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.
Arc, formerly known as the Association for Retarded Citizen, but due to changes in disability language is now referred to as Arc. Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
Art Therapy
Using art as a therapeutic device.
Inflammation of a joint.
The enunciation of sounds, words, and sentences.
ASD (See Autism Spectrum Disorder)
ASHA (See American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)
ASL (See American Sign Language)
Asperger Syndrome
Asperger Syndrome: Asperger syndrome is a neurobiological disorder that can impact behavior and sensory systems, as well as visual and auditory processing. It is an autism spectrum disorder and shares many of the characteristics of pervasive developmental disorder; not otherwise specified, high-functioning autism, and nonverbal learning disorder.
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.
AU (See Autism)
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 (AU)
Autism is a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction. For more information regarding Autism, visit the Autism Society of Minnesota’s website at: www.ausm.org
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term for all Autism related disorders.
Avoidance Behavior
Those responses emitted by the individual with the intent of avoiding or postponing an aversive stimulus.
AYP (See Adequate Yearly Progress)


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BA (See Behavioral Assessment)
Basal Reader Approach
A method of teaching reading in which instruction is given through the use of a series of books. Sequence of skills, content, vocabulary, and activities are determined by the authors of the series. Teacher’s manuals and children’s activity books accompany the basal reading series.
Basic reading texts that reinforce basic skills in the primary grades.
A record of the frequency, duration, and rate of intensity with which a behavior occurs over a period of time before the intervention.
Basic Skills Test
The Basic Skills Tests ensure no student graduates from a Minnesota public high school without essential competencies in reading, mathematics and writing. Tests in reading and mathematics are first given in the eighth grade and a written composition test is first given in the tenth grade. Students have multiple opportunities to pass these tests before graduation. Students must meet the Basic Skills requirements, the High Standards requirements, and any local requirements to graduate from a public high school in Minnesota.
BD (See Behavior Disorder)
Bureau for Education of the Handicapped
BEAM(Bridging Education and Mental Health)
BEAM is an intervention model and conceptual framework developed for use by teachers/caregivers with the assistance of a BEAM coach. It uses strategies from the educational (positive behavior supports) and mental health (therapeutic) perspectives to address social-emotional development on four different levels.
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.
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes persistent, overwhelming, and uncontrollable changes in moods, behaviors, thoughts, and activities.
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.
BIA (See Bureau of Indian Affairs)
Big Books
Story books with simple repetitive language, in a large format so that several children can see the pictures and words as the teacher is reading. A typical big book may be larger than 36” x 36”.
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
Body Image
The concept and awareness of one’s own body as it relates to orientation, movement, and other behavior.
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.
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
The government agency that oversees and assists the affairs of Native Americans. The BIA operates schools in 22 States.


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CA is an acronym for Chronological Age, and refers to the age of a person in terms of years and months.
Community Alternative Care (waiver)
Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals
Child Care Resource and Referral (agencies)
Cognitive Delay
CEC (See Council on Exceptional Children)
Council of Education of the Deaf
CEED (See Center for Early Education and Development)
Center for Early Education and Development (CEED)
The Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) provides information regarding young children (birth to age eight), including children with special needs, in the areas of education, child care, child development, and family education. http://education.umn.edu/ceed/
Center for Inclusive Child Care (CICC)
The Center for Inclusive Child Care (CICC) is a comprehensive resource network for promoting and supporting inclusive early childhood and school age programs and providers. This network provides leadership, administrative support, training, and consultation to early care and education providers, school age care providers, parents, and the professionals who support providers and parents of children with special needs. www.inclusivechildcare.org
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
Cerebral Hypoxia
The term cerebral hypoxia refers to a condition in which there is a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow. Symptoms of mild cerebral hypoxia include inattentiveness, poor judgment, memory loss, and a decrease in motor coordination. When hypoxia lasts for an extended period of time it can result in coma, seizures, or even brain death.
Cystic Fibrosis
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.
Children’s Home Care Option (See also: TEFRA)
Community Health Education Network (of ARC MN)
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. All public schools in Minnesota must publicly announce the availability of Special Education services to their students. Marketing materials, school brochures, and handbooks are some of the ways to inform the public. Public information, requesting previous school records, and the pre-referral/referral procedures are components of the child find process.
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
Choral Reading
A strategy that develops fluency and expression in reading, where the teacher models fluent reading of a passage and the students repeat the reading in unison.
A condition that persists over a long period of time.
Chronological Age (CA)
Age of a person in terms of years and months.
CICC (See Center for Inclusive Child Care)
CIFMP (See Continuous Improvement and Focused Monitoring Process)
Continuous Improvement and Focused Monitoring System
Cleft Palate
A congenital, reparable split in the palate that affects one’s articulation and speech.
A behavior that signifies pattern completion; the mechanism responsible for the automatic completion of familiar events.
Cloze Procedure
A procedure for the assessment of reading comprehension that requires the student to complete a sentence by filling in the blank or providing a meaningful word for the blank.
Children’s Mental Health
Professional relationship that provides mentoring with demonstration of new strategies, technical feedback, and analysis of application over time to a colleague in need.
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.
Voluntary interaction between professionals having a parity of knowledge and skills.
Collaborative Consultation
An interactive process that enables teams of people with diverse expertise to generate creative solutions to mutually defined problems.
Adherence to state and federal rules.
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.
Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD)
A State or school plan to train and provide technical assistance for school staff and parents.
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.
Concordia University
Concordia University is a comprehensive Lutheran university with a talented faculty and staff. Concordia University focuses on forming real relationships with students because they are committed to helping every student succeed in school and in life after graduation. www.csp.edu
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.
The conditions that must be met if a reinforcer is to be forthcoming. These conditions must be met fully prior to the presentation of the reward by the controlling agent.
Continuous Improvement and Focused Monitoring Process (CIFMP)
The monitoring process used by the U.S. Department of Education to check compliance and results of special education in the States.
Continuous Reinforcement
A schedule by which reinforcement is given after each response; a 1:1 relationship between response and reinforcement.
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.
A Special Education Cooperative
Coordination refers to the working together of various muscles for the production of a certain movement.
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.
Counseling refers to advice or help given by someone qualified to give such advice or help (often referring to psychological counseling).
County Case Management
County Case Management refers to the coordination of county services and programs for eligible persons by a county social worker.
CP (See Cerebral Palsy)
Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation
A standard by which a test may be judged or evaluated; a set of scores, ratings, etc., that a test is designed to predict or to correlate with. (See validity)
Criterion-Referenced Test
A test that measures abilities in specific tasks rather than tests that compare a student to others in a norm group.
Critical Thinking
Solving problems by systematically examining the problem and the evidence and linking it with past knowledge.
Including more than one sensory modality.
CSPD (See Comprehensive System of Personnel Development)
Community Social Services Act
The integrated patterns of human behavior that include thought, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of a community or population.
Curriculum-based Assessment
Use of assessment materials and procedures that mirror instruction in order to ascertain whether specific instructional objectives have been accomplished and to monitor progress directly in the curriculum being taught.
Cyanosis refers to a duskiness or bluish color on the skin caused by poor circulation or low oxygen concentration in the bloodstream.


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Development Achievement Center
Developmental Adaptive Physical Education
DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practice)
DAP is a framework of principles and guidelines for best practice in the care and education of young children, birth through age 8.
Data Triangulation
A technique for analyzing data collected from an FBA assessment.
Day Classes
Offering services only during the daytime hours and provide no living accommodations for the students.
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
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
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, people with disabilities, and older Minnesotans.
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.
Developmental Reading
Developmental Red Flag
Developmental red flags, sometimes referred to as absolute indicators, indicate that children should be screened to ensure they are on the right developmental path. For more information on developmental red flags, a CICC info module titled The First Signs: Red Flags and Referral can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
Pattern and sequence of typical reading growth and skill development in a child in the learning-to-read process.
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.
Diagnostic-Prescriptive Teaching
An approach to instruction of students on an individual basis, with attention to strengths or weaknesses, followed by teaching prescriptives to remediate the weaknesses and develop the strengths.
Differential Reinforcement
A procedure in which any behavior except the targeted inappropriate response is reinforced; typically, this results in a reduction of the inappropriate behavior.
Direct Assessment
Directly observing a behavior and describing the conditions that surround it.
Direct Teaching
Direct Teaching is a way to provide instruction. The goal of this method is the students’ mastery of skills. Direct teaching demands that the instructor have a solid understanding of the subject material and present the material in a clear, logical, and sequential way.
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.
DOH (See Department of Health)
Department Of Labor
Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is the most common and readily identifiable chromosomal condition associated with intellectual disabilities. 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. For more information regarding Down syndrome, visit the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota website at: www.dsamn.org.
Due Process Hearing
Due Process Hearing Officer
Department of Rehabilitation Services
DS (See Down Syndrome)
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)
Dysarthria is a term used to describe muscle weakness affecting speech production.
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.
Dyspraxia is a condition characterized by a difficulty with planning and performing coordinated movements although there is no apparent damage to muscles.


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EA (See Educational Assistant)
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)
A program for families with young children who have not yet entered kindergarten, with a focus on strengthening families and enhancing the ability of parents to support their child’s learning and development.
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
Early Child Care Education Professionals
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) is a program for families with young children who have not yet entered kindergarten, with a focus on strengthening families and enhancing the ability of parents to support their child’s learning and development.
ECG (See Electrocardiogram)
Echolalia is a stage of speech development characterized by parrot-like repeating.
Early Childhood Special Education
Educational Cooperative Service Unit
ED (See Emotional Disturbance)
Educational Assistant (EA)
A person who provides assistance to students under the supervision of the students’ teacher(s).
Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test to measure brain wave patterns.
Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota www.efmn.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
Embedded Learning
Embedded learning refers to specifically designed practices that are used to promote children’s engagement, learning, and independence in everyday activities, routines, and transitions in the classroom, home, and community. For more information on embedded learning, a CICC info module titled Inclusion Strategies, Embedded Learning and Universal Design: Definitions and Strategies can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
Emergent Literacy
The concept of emergent literacy suggests the development of literacy takes place within the child over time. It begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in fun, meaningful activities. Emergent literacy includes oral language, phonological awareness, and print knowledge. For more information on emergent literacy, a CICC info module titled Emergent Literacy—Introduction can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
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.
  1. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
  2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
  3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
  4. A tendency to develop general pervasive moods of unhappiness or depression.
  5. 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, Electrooculogram
An electrooculogram is a record of the difference in electrical charge between the front and back of the eye that is correlated with eyeball movement and obtained by electrodes placed on the skin near the eye.
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. For more information regarding Epilepsy, visit the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota website at: www.efmn.org
Early and Periodic Screening
Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment
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.
A procedure in which reinforcement for a previously reinforced behavior is withheld; if the actual reinforcers that are maintaining the behavior are identified and withheld, the behavior will gradually decrease in frequency until it no longer, or seldom, occurs.
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.


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Fading (of Stimulus Control)
A technique for errorless learning whereby the teacher cues the child with multiple stimuli to makethe correct response. Gradually, the number of cues are reduced, or "faded," until only one stimulus comes to exert control over the responding.
Something which occurs among family members.
Family Assessment
Family Assessment refers to a family-directed identification of the needs of the family related to the development of the child.
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.
Family Infant Toddler Program (FIT)
A program that provides early intervention services to help families who have concerns about the development of their young child (birth to three).
Family Systems Theory
Based on the idea that an individual can only be understood within the context of his or her family system.
Family Therapy
A specialized type of group therapy in which the members of a given family make up the group.
Family-Centered Service
Provision of resources and supports to strengthen and enhance the competency of families, parents and their children.
Follow Along Program (through Public Health)
Free Appropriate Public Education
FASD is an acronym that stands for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual who is exposed to alcohol in utero.
FBA (See Functional Behavior Assessment)
Feeding Disorder
A condition in which an infant or child is unable or refuses to eat or has difficulty eating, which can result in frequent illness, failure to grow normally, and even death. For more information on feeding disorders, a CICC info module titled Oral and Feeding Skills and Development can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
FERPA (See Family Education Rights Privacy Act)
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.
Financial Worker
A Financial Worker is a person employed by a county to administrate financial assistance programs such as Medical Assistance, TEFRA, and other financial assistance programs.
Fine Motor Skills
Control of small muscles in the hands and fingers, which are needed for activities such as writing and cutting.
FIT (See Family Infant Toddler Program)
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.
FM (See Focused Monitoring)
Focused Monitoring (FM)
A monitoring approach that examines those requirements most closely relating to improving results for children with disabilities and those States most in need of support to improve compliance and performance.
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.
Formative Assessment
Checking the understanding of a learner while or before instruction is being applied.
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.


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General Assistance
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.
The use of previously learned knowledge or skills under conditions different from which they were originally learned.
A category of composition that is associated with a particular style such as narratives, arguments, poetry, persuasive essays, etc.
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)
Guided Discovery
Teaching strategy where the learner is given the tools to solve a problem and made responsible to find a solution with minimal instructor intervention.


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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.
Home and Community Based Services
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
High Stakes Tests
High stakes tests are tests that, if not passed, will deny a student graduation until it is passed.
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. For consultation support, contact CICC through dea@fraser.org
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.


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Interagency Coordinating Council
Intermediate Care Facility for Mentally Retarded persons
IDEA (See Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
IDEA 2004(See Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004)
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.
Interagency Early Childhood Intervention Project
IEE (See Independent Educational Evaluation)
IEIC (See Interagency Early Intervention Committee)
IEP (See Individual Education Program)
Infant Follow Along Program
IFSP (See Individual Family Service Plan)
IHCP (See Individualized Health Care Plan)
Individualized Habilitation Plan
IIIP (See Individual Interagency Intervention Plan)
Independent Living
Immediate antecedents
"Immediate antecedents" refer to that which occurs immediately before an event
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.
Incompatible Response
Any combination of responses that cannot occur simultaneously: in seat behavior is incompatible with out-of-seat behavior.
Identified in special education refers to the local ‘child find’ efforts.
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
An evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school district responsible for the education of the child.
Indirect Assessment
Gathering information about a student from other sources besides directly observing the student.
Individual Interagency Intervention Plan (IIIP)
A written plan for children ages 3-5, similar to the IFSP. State law mandates a phased-in application of this plan by July 2003 for all children under age 21 who receive Special Education Services, and services from one other public program. A single service coordinator may not be named, but some method of coordinating services must be identified.
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.
Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP)
A plan developed by the school nurse in collaboration with parents and teachers that outlines specific health care procedures to be provided to a student.
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.
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.
Inquiry Learning
A learning method where students develop solutions to their own questions under the guidance of a teacher.
Inquiry-Based Instruction
Teaching by asking puzzling questions that lead the learner to solve a specific problem.
Instructional Feedback
Verbal or written information to an individual about his/her performace. Can be objective, descriptive or evaluative.
Instructional Objective
The intended educational goal of a lesson, or what a teacher intends a student to learn during a lesson.
Instructional Resources
Resources that can be used during instruction.
Instructional Technology
Technology that is used to enhance the curriculum being taught. That is, the technology actually changes the way the teacher is planning or delivering information to the students.
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.
Interagency Agreement
A document signed by authorized representatives of at least two agencies outlining mutually agreed upon responsibilities to perform certain duties under specified conditions.
Interagency Early Intervention Committee (IEIC)
The local level committee responsible for planning and coordinating early intervention services among local agencies.
Interval Schedules of Reinforcement
Those intermittent schedules of reinforcement in which the contingency is based on the passage of time since the last reinforcement. In general, the overall rate of responding on interval schedules is low compared to ratio schedules.
Intervening Variable
A factor, inferred to be present between stimulus and response which accounts for one response rather than another to a certain stimulus. The intervening variable may be inferred without further specification, or it may be given concrete properties and may become an object of investigation.
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).
Individual Program Plan
IQ (See Intelligence Quotient)
Independent School District
Individualized Service Plan


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A stage of speech development characterized by unintelligible jumble of syllables.
Job Coach
A person who is responsible for supervision and training of persons with disabilities at specific integrated work-sites.


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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.


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Lead Agency
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.
Lecture-Based Instruction
A teaching style in which information is disseminated directly to the class from the instructor.
LEP (See Limited English Proficiency)
Lesson Plans
The preplanned information and teaching approach for each class period.
Learning Independence From Experience (State Services for the Blind)
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.
Lovaas’ Discrete Trial Approach
This traditional behavioral approach is highly structured and often uses tangible reinforcers (e.g., candy or tokens) for specific behavior (e.g., eye contact or naming objects). The discrete trial approach typically requires approximately 30 to 40 hours per week, of intensive one-on-one specific response training (McEachin, Smith, & Lovaas, 1993).
The intensity factor in sound.
Local Primary Agency
Licensed Practical Nurse
Least Restrictive Alternative
LRE (See Least Restrictive Environment)
Long Term Care


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Medical Assistance (Medicaid) or Mental Age
Minnesota Association of Children and adults with Learning Disabilities
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.
Tangible items, such as blocks, that allow students to process ideas through concrete movement of items.
Minnesota Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired
The process of maturing or developing mentally, physically, or emotionally.
Maturational Lag
A slowness in certain specialized aspects of neurological development.
Minnesota Community Education Association
Maternal and Child Health
Minnesota Council on Quality Education
MCSHN (See Minnesota Children with Special Health Needs)
Muscular Dystrophy
MDE (See Minnesota Department of Education)
The arithmetical average, the sum of all scoresdivided by the number of scores.
An instructional approach that focuses on engaging the student in the meaning of what he or she is studying.
Medical Model
Addresses the cause of a behavior to be physically based and supports medical intervention for reducing negative behavior. Under this model, behavior is assessed as a symptom of a physical disorder (ie. Chemical imbalance, neurological deficit, etc.) and prescribes treatment of the medical condition.
A compound, drug, or medicine, used to treat disease, injury, pain, or other symptoms.
Minnesota Educators of Emotionally Disturbed
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.
Minnesota Foundation for Better Hearing and Speech
Mental Health
Mental Health Advocates Coalition of Minnesota
Mental Health Program Division (Department of Human Services)
Mental Illness
Mentally Ill/Hearing Impaired (Persons)
An abnormal smallness of head.
Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network (MNCCR&R)
The Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network (MNCCR&R) provides statewide leadership in shaping collaborations that build a diverse, high quality child care system accessible to all Minnesota families through local child care resource and referral services. www.mnchildcare.org
Minnesota Children with Special Health Needs
Minnesota Children with Special Health Needs (MCSHN) is a public program that seeks to improve the quality of life for children with special health needs and their families. MCSHN promotes the optimal health, well-being, respect and dignity of children and youth with special health needs and their families and provides statewide support. MCSHN’s goal is healthier children, youth, families and communities. www.health.state.mn.us/mcshn
Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments
These tests chart the progress of schools and districts over time, generate information for school improvement and school accountability and allow for comparison of schools and districts in Minnesota. Schools use these results to make curricular and instructional decisions for all students. Identifying strengths and weaknesses early can help districts make the best decisions about curriculum and instruction.
Minnesota Department of Education
Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is a department dedicated to improving educational achievement by establishing clear standards, measuring performance, assisting educators, and increasing opportunities for lifelong learning.
Mental Illness Program Division (of Department of Human Services)
Mild-Moderate Mentally Handicapped
MNCCR&R (See Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network)
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.
State and federal authorities monitor all agencies which provide any type of special education services Compliance monitors conduct site visits, review files, and investigate complaints to ensure that all federal and state laws are being adhered to.
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.
Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center
Mental Retardation: Due to new legislation on federal terminology, the use of mental retardation will be replaced with intellectual disabilities in all federal health, education, and labor policies. In order to reduce costs, these changes will be made over time as documents and laws come up for revision.
Minnesota Statutes or Multiple Sclerosis
Minnesota Supplemental Aid
Minnesota Society for the Blind
Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Moderate-Severe Mentally Impaired
Minnesota Social Service Association
Minnesota State Services for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (also known as SSB)
Minnesota State Services for the Deaf
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.


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National Association of the Deaf
National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils
NAEYC (See National Association for the Education of Young Children)
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
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.
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.).
Naturalistic Observation
A type of observation where the observer begins without any preconceived ideas about what will be observed and describes behavior that seems important.
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.
A neurotoxin is a poisonous agent or substance that inhibits, damages, or destroys the tissues of the nervous system. For more information on neurotoxins, a CICC info module titled Neurotoxins and Young Children: Developmental Impacts can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
National Federation of the Blind www.nfb.org
National Information Center for Handicapped Children and Youth
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.
Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NLD)
Nonverbal learning disorder is a neurologically based developmental disability. As a learning disorder, it usually involves strong verbal skills that do not translate to abstract reasoning. For more information on NLD, a CICC info module titled Nonverbal Learning Disorder can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
An average, common, or standard performance under specified conditions, e.g., the average achievement test score of nine-year-old children or the average birth weight of male children.
Statistics that describe the test performance of specified groups, such as pupils of various ages or grades in the standardization group for a test. Norms are often assumed to be representative of some larger population, as of pupils in the country as a whole. Norms are descriptive of average, typical, or mediocre performance; they are not to be regarded as standards, or as desirable levels of attainment. Grade, age, and percentile are the most common types of norms.
Nurtured Heart Approach
The Nurtured Heart Approach is a method used to transform challenging behaviors in children with a high intensity temperament. The CICC offers a train the trainer course on this best selling approach and book of Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach. For more information on the Nurtured Heart Approach TOT, visit the CICC Learning Center http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-tot.html.
A constant, involuntary, more or less cyclical movement of the eyeball. Movement may be in any direction.


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Objective Observation
Audiotape, videotape, or written notation of behaviors. Can include tallies for frequency, duration, or speed; can be a narrative transcription of the actions and verbalizations observed.
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.
OCR (See Office for Civil Rights)
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.
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).
Other Health Impaired
OI (See Orthopedic Impairment)
Pertaining to the sense of smell.
OM (O&M) (See Orientation and Mobility)
Open-ended Question
Question that can only be answered with explanations, never with yes or no.
Based on empirical and measurable phenomena.
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.


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PA (P&A) (See Protection and Advocacy)
Parent Advisory Council
Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights. PACER Center is a National Center based in Minnesota. The website address for PACER Center is: www.pacer.org
The roof of the mouth.
Paper-based resources
Resources, such as books, magazines, and other print material.
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.
Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC)
Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIC’s) are federally-funded centers (such as PACER), in each state, that provide information to parents of children with disabilities about their rights to access services, work with schools and educators to ensure an appropriate educational placement for their child, understand the methods of testing and evaluating a child with a disability, resolve differences, and make informed decisions about their child’s needs.
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.
PCA (See Personal Care Attendant)
Person First Language
Person first language refers to a manner of speaking which respects the individual or person first, then the disability. For instance, say “child with autism� instead of “autistic child�. For more information on language use and disability, a CICC info module titled The Language of Disability can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-tot.html.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder. PDD is an autism related disorder. (See Autism Spectrum Disorder)
Private Duty Nurse
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.
Pedagogy describes activities that impart knowledge. However, it is sometimes used to describe the profession of teaching.
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.
Personal Care Attendant (PCA)
A person, usually employed by a home care agency, who assists persons who have disabilities with activities of daily living (ADL’s).
Petit Mal Seizure
A type of seizure that is characterized by short lapses of consciousness.
Physically Handicapped
Public Health Nurse
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.
PKU is an acronym for Phenylketonuria, an inherited metabolic disorder that can lead to intellectual and developmental disabilities.
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 94-482
PL 94-482 refers to The Vocational Education Amendments of 1976.
PL 97-300
PL 97-300 refers to The Job Training Partnership Act of 1982.
PL 98-524
PL 98-524 refers to the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act of 1984.
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. Minnesota requires the provision of special education services beginning at birth for eligible children.
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.
PLEP or PLP (See Present Levels of Educational Performance)
Physically and Other Health Impaired
A collection of a student’s work that provides a basis for evaluating student accomplishment.
Positive Feedback
Communication to a student that a response is correct.
Positive Reinforcement
Any stimulus which, when made contingent upon a particular response, will strengthen that 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.
Project EXCEPTIONAL is a guide to training and recruiting child care providers to serve young children with disabilities. The CICC offers a train the trainer course based on this two volume training curriculum from the California Dept. of Education. Volume 1 contains 9 narrative chapters which correspond to the training activities in Volume 2 on topics like disability awareness, inclusion law, family/professional partnerships, and identifying/referring children at risk as well as much more. For more information on the Project EXCEPTIONAL TOT, visit the CICC Learning Center (http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-tot.html).
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.
Problem Pathway Analysis
A technique for analyzing data collected from a Functional Behavior Assessment.
Prediction or judgment concerning the course, duration, termination, and recovery from a pathological condition.
Progress Reports
A procedure, to be held twice a year in Minnesota, 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.
Protection and Advocacy (P&A)
The Protection and Advocacy System is a private, nonprofit organization that protects and promotes the rights of people with disabilities.
The original records of the results of testing.
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
PTIC (See Parent Training and Information Center)
A process for weakening behavior that can take one of two forms. First, an aversive or noxious stimulus can be made contingent on the response to be weakened. Second, a positively reinforcing stimulus can be withheld or removed contingent on the response to be weakened. Generally ineffective over a long period of time.
PWN (See Prior Written Notice)


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


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A relationship of ease, harmony, and accord between a student and a teacher, therapist, or other adult.
Rating Scales
An indirect assessment tool that allows you to gather information about a student by having different people (teachers, parents, students) rate a behavior based on different statements about the student’s life.
RDS (See Respiratory Distress Syndrome)
Readability Level
An indication of the difficulty of reading material in terms of the grade level at which it might be expected to be read successfully.
Readiness Test
A test that measures the extent to which an individual has acquired certain skills needed for a new learning activity. Thus a reading readiness test indicates the extent to which a child has reached a developmental stage where he may profitably begin a formal instructional program in reading.
Reading Readiness
This refers to those skills and behaviors of emergent readers and writers—young learners who are just on the verge of becoming literate.
Receptive Language
Language that is spoken or written by others and received by the individual. The receptive language skills are listening and reading.
Reciprocal Teaching
A four step reading comprehension learning strategy, where the teacher and the students are engaged in reciprocal discussions about the text the students are reading. The intention of these discussions is to summarize, question, clarify and predict various aspects of the text.
Red Flag
Red flags, sometimes referred to as absolute indicators, indicate that children should be screened to ensure they are on the right developmental path. For more information on developmental red flags, a CICC info module titled The First Signs: Red Flags and Referral can be found at (http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html).
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.
Any stimulus event that can be used to strengthen a behavior it follows.
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.
An observable action resulting from a stimulus.
Request For Proposals
Rhetorical Structure
A type or mode of language or speech. For example, the rhetorical structure of a political speech is quite different than that of a wedding toast.
A tendency for the muscles to become very stiff after they have been extended.
Registered Nurse
Role Playing
A technique in which an individual enacts a social role other than his/her own.
Range Of Motion
Rote Memorization
Putting information into long-term memory through constant repetition without necessarily comprehending the information.
Regional Resource Center
Regional Service Center (for hearing impaired persons)
Radio Talking Book network (State Services for the Blind)
Assessment checklists in which numbers are assigned according to proficiency in a specific area.


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SA (See Self-Assessment)
School Age Care or State Agency Committee
SAT (See Student Assistance Team)
The strength of a response can decrease as a result of overuse of a reinforcer.
Spina Bifida Association of Minnesota
SBS/SIS (See Shaken Baby Syndrome/Shaken Impact Syndrome)
A framework that students can follow to guide them through a process. For example, a set of questions that can be generalized to activities that reflect similar processes.
Scaffolding Questions
The questions that make the learner think critically about the means to solve a problem used in inquiry-based instruction.
A mental framework or diagram of how information is perceived and organized by an individual.
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.
Standard Deviation: Standard deviation is a measurement of variability. It shows the level of variation from the average.
State Department of Education
SEA (See State Education Agency)
Special Education Advisory Committee
SEAP (See State Special Education Advisory Panel)
Sec 503/504
Sec 503/504 refers to Sections of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that focus on affirmation action (503) and preventing discrimination (504).
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
Special Education Instructional Materials Center
State Early Intervention Team
Occurs when there are excessive electrical discharges released in some nerve cells of the brain. The brain loses control over muscles, consciousness, senses, and thoughts.
Self-Assessment (SA)
The State Steering Committee uses current and reliable data to analyze how successful the State has been achieving compliance and positive results for children with disabilities.
Self-Care 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.
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.
Special Education Regional Consultant
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.
Setting Events
Environmental events that set the occasion for the performance of an action. Examples are the seating arrangement of a classroom, prior social interactions such as fighting on the bus on the way to school, and physical conditions of the student such as illness, fatigue, or allergies.
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.
A procedure for developing new, or more complex, behavior through the reinforcement of successive approximations to the goal behavior. This procedure uses both positive reinforcement and extinction procedures to develop these closer approximations.
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)
SIG (See State Improvement Grant)
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.
Semi-Independent Living
Semi-Independent Living Services
SIP (See State Improvement Plan)
SIT (See Sensory Integration Treatment)
Situated Learning
A learning method that emphasizes the inclusion of learning into every day situations.
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.
An instructional approach that focuses on the development of the student’s specific skills in an area of study.
Speech Language
Special Learning and Behavior Problems
Specific Learning Disability
SLP (See Speech Language Pathologist)
Special Needs
Skilled Nursing Facility
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.
SPD (See Sensory Processing Disorder)
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
An interdisciplinary conference bringing together several professional experts, each of whom has examined a given patient, for the purpose of combining diagnostic knowledge in order to arrive at a decision concerning the nature, the initiation, or the continuation of treatment.
Made uniform, predictable.
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.
State Education Agency (SEA)
The State Board of Education or other agency responsible for the State supervision of public elementary and secondary schools.
State Improvement Grant (SIG)
A competitive grant offered by the U.S. Department of Education to States. The purpose is to improve special education services in the State.
State Improvement Plan (SIP)
The State plan that includes improvement strategies to correct areas needing improvement and/or noncompliance issues discovered in the State Self-Assessment.
State Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP)
An advisory panel required by federal law in each State for the purpose of providing policy guidance with respect to special education and related services for children with disabilities in the State.
A generalization in which individuals are falsely assigned traits they do not possess based on race, ethnicity, religion, disablity, or gender.
An external event, act, or influence which causes physiological change in a sense organ.
STO (See Short Term Objective)
Structured Observation
A type of observation in which the observer specifies or defines the behaviors to be observed and then counts or otherwise measures the frequency, duration, and/or magnitude of the behaviors.
Student Assistance Team (SAT)
A Student Assistance Team is a group made up of a variety of educators who provide a teacher with ideas for interventions in the classroom.
Student-Centered Instruction
Teaching methods that put the responsibility of learning directly on the learner.
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
Successive Approximation
The procedure used to teach a behavior. The target behavior is reinforced for successively closer approximations to the desired behavior.
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.


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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.
Target Objective
The educational goal a teacher has set for the students to work toward. What a teacher intends the students to learn by the end of the instructional period.
The Association for persons with Severe Handicaps
Task Analysis
The technique of carefully examining a particular task to discover the elements that comprise it and the processes required to perform it.
TAT (See Teacher Assistance Team)
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.
Teacher Assistance Team (TAT)
A team of general education staff trained to assist school personnel and parents in solving difficult instructional and behavioral challenges. It is also known as a pre-referral team of a school based support team.
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).
Teacher-centered Instruction
A traditional approach of teaching, where the teacher determines the content to be taught, plans for instruction, implements the instructional plan, and evaluates the students’ progress. This method puts the responsibility of learning directly on the instructor.
Teaching Strategies
Techniques for successfully teaching a concept to a group of students.
Two or more teachers collaborationg to present  information to students together.
Technology Dependent
A condition where a person relies on medical equipment, such as a ventilator, to stay alive.
Technology-based Resources
Resources that are found in or delivered by technology, such as computers, transparency machines, etc.
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1988 or PL 97-248 (See also: CHCO) TEFRA is a federal program that provides Medial Assistance to eligible children. It is administered through counties.
Tennessen Warning
A Tennessen warning, also known as a privacy rights notice, is given whenever an individual receiving services is asked to provide private or confidential information about themselves. It gives a person information on how that data will be used. For more information on data privacy, a CICC info module titled Data Privacy and Confidentiality can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
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.
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.
Total Special Education System


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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.
United States Department of Education (USDE)
Provides guidance, fiscal support, and technical assistance to the States.
Universal Design
Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for additional adaptation or specialized design. This includes environmental and equipment changes that allow access to space and material. For more information on universal design, a CICC info module titled Inclusion Strategies, Embedded Learning and Universal Design: Definitions and Strategies can be found at http://www.inclusivechildcare.org/learning-info-mod.html.
USDE (See United States Department of Education)


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The extent to which a test evaluates what it was designed to measure. It is often reported as a measured coefficient.
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
Vicarious Learning
The acquisition of response capabilities without practice. Learning by observation of the behavior of others (modeling) is an example of vicarious learning.
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.
VR (See Vocational Rehabilitation)


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WAIS-R (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Revised)
An intelligence test of general intellectual ability; used primarily to identify key cognitive functions.
Waivered Services
Federal programs that use Medicaid dollars for community based services; these services are administered through counties.
WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children IV).
An intelligence test of general intellectual ability that is commonly used in schools; used primarily to identify key cognitive functions.
WS (See Waivered Services)
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