October 21, 2014

Autism Glossary


If a parent with a typically developing child hears me blabber on about autism related stuff (which happens a lot), they constantly have to stop me to ask me what something means.  There are so many terms and acronyms to know that special needs talk often sounds like another language.  We special moms tend to forget that most people don’t know what these things are!  It reminds me of going to an office party for a company you don’t work for.  Everyone talks about their work, and you don’t understand what or who they are talking about.

Other autism glossaries online are jam-packed with terms.  Talk about overhemling!  I’ve pulled the ones I use most often to make it easier.  The more meaty terms/definitions are cited with a link to that website for additional information.  I have included some of my own tidbits, which are indicated in italics.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) – ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. Over the last decade, the nation has seen a particularly dramatic increase in the use of ABA to help persons with autism live happy and productive lives. In particular, ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective. (Autism Speaks)

Autism Umbrella – In May 2013 all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. (Autism Speaks)
So, if your child was evaluated after May 2013, he/she wouldn’t have gotten a diagnosis such as Aspergers.  It’s all autism spectrum disorder now.

Autism Spectrum Disorder – Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. (CDC) We have to keep in mind that autism is a spectrum disorder. So, all people with autism have different symptoms, and to varying degrees. The Autism Tennessee website is helpful in giving a more detailed explanation of the diagnosis, signs and symptoms, causes, treatment, and demographics. http://autismtn.org/about-autism/

Comprehensive Development Classroom (CDC) – A CDC classroom is a special education classroom.  Placement in a CDC classroom is decided by the IEP team.

Echolalia – Parroting or repeating what another person says.
This includes, but is certainly not limited to, repeating a script from a T.V. show or movie.

Expressive Language – A broad term that describes how a person communicates wants and needs. It encompasses verbal and nonverbal communication skills and how an individual uses language. Expressive language skills include: facial expressions, gestures, intentionality, vocabulary, semantics (word/sentence meaning), morphology, and syntax (grammar rules). (Pediatric Therapy Network)

FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) - The Section 504 regulation requires a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s disability. (Department of Education)

General Education Classroom – Typical classroom in which education is received based off of state standards.  

Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.  Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. (idea.ed.gov)

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – A written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting in accordance with IDEA.  For more information about what is encompassed in the IEP click here.
The IEP is a legal document.

The IEP team consists of:
- Special education teacher
- Regular education teacher
- Parent(s)
- Local education agent (LEA) such as the principal or assistant principal
- Interpreter of evaluation results such as a speech therapist or psychologist
- At the discretion of parents or agency, other individuals with knowledge/special expertise regarding the child

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – According to IDEA, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Children with disabilities, to the maximum extent appropriate, have the right to be educated alongside their non-disabled peers. It is up to the IEP team (which includes the parents) to decide the best course of action for the education of your child.  The general education classroom might be the most appropriate place, or might not be.

Occupational Therapy (OT) - Occupational therapy teaches skills that help the person live as independently as possible. Skills might include dressing, eating, bathing, and relating to people. (CDC)

Parallel Play - Children sit side by side but play on their own.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) - augmentative/alternative [picture] communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. (PECSUSA).
I initially started with pictures I took of things in his life that he actually used.  For example, a picture of his actual high chair for when it was time to eat, or a picture of my actual car for when it is time to go.  The picture of the car was the most useful of all because it was the only way I could communicate that we were going to be leaving somewhere without having to pick him up and upset him.

Presumptive Placement – The presumptive placement for all students is the general education class.  Students should only be removed from the general education classroom if the IEP team agrees that it is in the student’s best educational interest to be in a more restrictive setting.
I look at is as the general education classroom being the starting point of the discussion.  Students should be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment to the maximum extend appropriate. 

Pretend Play – Imaginative play
This is just as it sounds – playing pretend.

Receptive Language – What we hear and understand.

Response to Intervention (RTI) – Visit A Family Guide to Response to Instruction and Intervention from Rutherford County Schools for more information about how RTI works.
RTI is used to identify a student’s needs and matches appropriate instructional strategies to the student’s specific academic needs.  There are three Tiers to RTI, explained in the link above.

Self-injurious – Self inflicted bodily harm.

Sensory Integration Therapy - Sensory integration therapy helps the person deal with sensory information, like sights, sounds, and smells. Sensory integration therapy could help a child who is bothered by certain sounds or does not like to be touched. (CDC)

Speech Therapy (ST) - Speech therapy helps to improve the person’s communication skills. Some people are able to learn verbal communication skills. For others, using gestures or picture boards is more realistic.  (CDC)

Stimming - Self-stimulating behaviors or "stimming" are stereotyped or repetitive movements or posturing of the body. They include mannerisms of the hands (such as handflapping, finger twisting or flicking, rubbing, or wringing hands), body (such as rocking, swaying, or pacing), and odd posturing (such as posturing of the fingers, hands, or arms). Sometimes they involve objects such as tossing string in the air or twisting pieces of lint. These mannerisms may appear not to have any meaning or function, although they may have significance for the child, such as providing sensory stimulation (also referred to as self-stimulating behavior), communicating to avoid demands, or request a desired object or attention, or soothing when wary or anxious. These repetitive mannerisms are common in children with ASD. (Autism Speaks)

Supplemental Aids and Services – Aids, services, and other supports that are provided in the regular education classroom or other education-related settings.
This can be accommodations or modifications, and may include an adult aid who works with the child.

Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) – Serving ages birth up to age 3, TEIS helps families with disabled or developmentally delayed children connect to the supports and services they need. (TEIS)
Brandon received Developmental Therapy with an Early Interventionist, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Applied Behavioral Analysis through TEIS, at no cost to us.

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