ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis): A method often used to treat children with autism spectrum disorders in which environmental stimuli are manipulated in order to produce a desired response. By breaking complex skills into small steps, children can systemically learn to respond and behave in socially appropriate ways.
Adaptive Behavior: the ability to adjust to new experiences, interact with new people and participate in new activities and experiences.
Adaptive equipment: Furniture and other positioning support that can be used to help a child maintain comfortable and appropriate posture and functioning when sitting, standing or moving.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A federal law that guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment, public accommodation, transportation, government services and telecommunications.
Anticonvulsant: Medication used to control seizures.
Articulation: The ability to produce speech sounds.
Assistive and Augmentative Communications (AAC): Additional materials, supports, and equipment and electronic devices that help people communicate when their spoken language is not sufficient for their needs.
Assistive Technology: Electronic as well as non-electronic materials, equipment and devices designed to help people with disabilities play, learn, communicate, move around and carry out activities of daily living at home, at school, and in the community.
Asperger’s Syndrome: An autism spectrum disorder characterized by average to above-average cognitive function, deficits in communication and social language (pragmatics) and, sometimes, a limited range of interests or obsessive interest in a particular topic, such as weather, train schedules or car models.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): A condition referring to excessive difficulty in concentrating and focusing or extreme distractibility.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The diagnostic term used to describe people who have excessive difficulty in concentrating and focusing, extreme distractibility or over activity, sometimes including disruptive behavior or aggression.
Auditory memory: The ability to receive information presented orally, and to interpret, store, and retrieve it.
Autism: A condition marked by developmental delay in social skills, language, and behavior which is often present in children with varying degrees of severity.
Baseline: The congenital level of function by a child before instruction is introduced.
Autism Spectrum Disorders: Encompasses the following five disorders: Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not otherwise specified.
Behavior Modification: The use of empirically demonstrated behavior change techniques aimed to improve behaviors.
Behavioral Therapy: The systematic application of behavioral theory, including the use of conditioning and reinforcements, in the treatment of a disorder.
Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS): A test developed at TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-handicapped Children) to diagnose autism. A child is rated in fifteen areas of ability.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder: A rare form of pervasive developmental disorder in which normally developing children suddenly lose language and social skills after age three.
Cognition: The ability to perceive, think, reason, and analyze.
Cognitive Ability: An individual’s intellectual ability or the aggregate skills of knowing and understanding.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A treatment approach combining cognitive theory and behavioral concepts, leading to behavioral changes through the understanding of how thoughts influence behaviors and learning how to change through patterns.
Comprehensive Evaluation: A complete assessment of a child, based on educational, psychological, social, and health status conducted by a team of professionals and complemented by information from parents and teachers.
Congenital condition: A condition existing at birth.
Convulsion: The involuntary contraction and relaxation of muscles. A seizure may occur in the form of convulsions.
Cue: A physical or verbal/vocal gesture that prompts a person to speak, perform an activity or behave in particular way.
Developmental Delay: A slower rate of developmenl in comparison to the majority of children of the same age.
Developmental Disability (DD): A condition that prevents physical or cognitive development.
Developmental Milestone: The acquisition of a skill that is associated with a certain age, e.g. sitting up; saying first words.
Diagnosis: The name of the disorder identified after an evaluation.
DIR/Floortime: An intervention and treatment approach developed by Stanley Greenspan, M.D., and Serena Wieder, PhD, that addresses and enhances the social, emotional and intellectual capacities of individuals with ASDs, rather than focusing on isolated behaviors. DIR stands for Development, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT): A teaching method included in, but not synonymous with, behaviorally based interventions, such as ABA. Specific skills are taught through the repetition of the following steps: presentation of task, response and reinforcement, with prompts provided if and when needed. A pause follows each sequence, indicating the beginning and ending of each cycle.
Due Process Hearing: A hearing where parents present evidence that a school district is not effectively educating their child.
Dyspraxia: The brain’s inability to plan muscle movements and carry them out.
Ear Tubes: Tiny tubes inserted in the eardrum that allow fluid to drain. Ear tubes are often recommended for babies and toddlers who get recurring ear infections.
Echolalia: The involuntary and usually meaningless repetition of phrases or words just heard.
Electroencephalogram (EEG): The recording of electrical impulses in the brain that can be used to diagnose some neurological conditions, such as seizures.
Epilepsy (Seizure Disorder): A condition characterized by sudden, involuntary, usually brief occurrences of altered consciousness, motor activity or both.
Evaluation Criteria: A component of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Provides a description of how the results of an IEP will determine the achievement of standard goals. Methods of obtaining the information include teacher observation, interviews with parents, and standardized tests.
Executive function: The ability to plan, organize and follow through, as well as the ability to inhibit actions, delay responses, make appropriate choices and shift attention. Individuals with ASDs, learning disabilities and other neurological conditions often have deficits in executive function, which is important to the attainment of goals.
Expressive Language: Any spoken language, vocalizations, gestures or other means by which a person is able to communicate.
Fine motor skills: The use of one’s hands for manipulating objects and performing activities.
Functional Behavioral Assessment: A process based largely on observation in which problem behaviors are addressed and analyzed. Causes and functions of the behavior are identified. Then a behavior intervention plan (BIP) based on a specific, individualized profile is developed and, ideally, implemented across settings in order to minimize or stop inappropriate behaviors.
Gross Motor Skills: The use of one’s large muscles to move, such as walking, running, hopping and jumping.
High-functioning Autism (HFA): Although not officially recognized as a diagnostic category, HFA refers to individuals with ASDs who have near-average to above-average cognitive abilities and can communicate through receptive and expressive language.