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Glossary of Terms


General Terms

A

Adaptive behavior
A sort of "practical intelligence." It is usually measured by scales that identify how well a person manages within his or her own environment.
Adaptive Development
Adaptive development is sometimes referred to as self-care or daily living skills. The child may use skills that he or she has already developed, or it may be necessary to acquire new skills.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
The essential feature is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in children at a comparable level of development. A condition identified as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-Revised (DSM III-R). This condition is also often called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) because of that usage in a previous edition of DSM. Although it is not a service category under IDEA, children with this condition may be eligible for service under other categories or under Section 504.
Adjusted Age
The age of a child, less the number of weeks the child was born premature. For example, if a child was born 8 weeks premature, and currently is 20 weeks old, the adjusted age is 12 weeks.
Advocate
An individual who is not an attorney, but who assists parents and children in their dealings with school districts regarding the children's special education programs.
Affect
The observable emotion or feeling state of an individual. Examples include anger, sadness, hope, and joy.
Age Appropriate
The age, or level, that most children can accomplish the tasks being considered.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Legislation prohibiting private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
Anomaly
A significant difference or deviation from what is standard or common.
ARC (The Arc)
Advocates for the Rights of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities and their families. An organization that advocates for the rights and full participation of all people with developmental disabilities.
Aspergers Disorder
The essential features are severe and sustained impairment in social interaction and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. The disturbance must cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. In contrast to Autistic Disorder, there are no clinically significant delays or deviance in language acquisition (e.g., single non-echoed words are used communicatively by age 2 years, and spontaneous communicative phrases are used by age 3 years), although more subtle aspects of social communication (e.g., typical give-and-take in conversation) may be affected.
Assistive Technology
Devices, equipment, or services used to help assist a person with special needs. For example, a computer word program may be used for a child who has difficulty with fine motor skills and handwriting.
Attachment
A special relationship between a newborn child and its primary caregiver, usually the mother.
Attuned Response
A form of reply to a person that reveals an understanding of what has been communicated.
Audiologist
A health care professional who specializes in the branch of science, especially the treatment of individuals with hearing loss or impairment.
Autism (or Autistic Spectrum Disorder)
A developmental disorder that is present prior to the age of 3 that affects normal development of communication and social skills. Other behaviors that may be present include preoccupation with parts of objects, hand or finger flapping (self-stimulating behavior), body rocking or self-injurious behavior. Autism is usually considered on a spectrum ranging from the more severe autistic disorder usually detected early in a child's life, to high functioning autism which may not be identified until later. A new category of eligibility for special education services added by IDEA.

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B

Behavioral Difficulties
Problems in an individual's way of acting, behaving, or conducting him/herself. A child with behavioral difficulties may have difficulty following the rules of the classroom at school.
Birth Defect
A structural, functional, or metabolic abnormality present at birth that results in physical or mental disability or is fatal. There are more than 4,000 known birth defects, which may be caused by genetic or environmental factors. About 150,000 babies are born each year with birth defects.
Blindness
Refers to a condition in an individual of the inability to see, or the loss of normal or correctable vision. This is usually due to damage or disorders of the eyes, or of the area of the brain that is responsible for vision.
Brain Injury
Damage or trauma to the brain. The extent of the damage is often influenced by the age of the person at time of injury and the sections of the brain that are affected.
Breathing Tube
An endotracheal (breathing) tube is used to assist breathing. One end is connected to a ventilator (breathing machine), the other is passed through the vocal cords.

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C

Care Coordinator
A person who connects and coordinates support, services and resources for children with special health care needs and their parents at home, in child care, in school, or in health care or community settings.
Case Manager
A person who coordinates and connects support, services and resources for children with special health care needs and their families. Case management services can occur in schools, health care settings, in child care facilities and in communities.
Cerebral Palsy
A condition caused by damage to the brain that results in problems with movement and posture. This damage usually occurs during the time the brain is developing before, during or soon after birth. The term cerebral involves the brain and palsy refers to a problem with muscle control, movement or posture.
Childcare Providers
Professionals who provide care for children when parents or primary caregivers are not available. A mother may place her child in an infant daycare setting with a childcare provider, for example, while she is at work.
Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN)
Those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, development, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.
Chronological Age
The actual age of a person (e.g., 2 years and 4 months).
Chronologically age appropriate
A standard by which children's activities may be evaluated. Instruction and materials should be directed at the student's actual age, rather than to the interests and tastes of younger children.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
An advanced practice nurse, with graduate preparation (earned master's or doctorate) who is a clinical expert in the diagnosis and treatment of illness, and the delivery of evidence-based nursing interventions.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A person who assists patients or clients with healthcare needs under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).
Cognitive
Refers to the process of thought, or thinking.
Cognitive Abilities
The various ways people become mentally aware of their surroundings. These mental processes include functions such as, learning, perception, memory, imagination, and use of language.
Cognitive Development
The development of the functions of the brain including perception, memory, imagination, and use of language.
Communicate
Passing information from one person to another; to make something known. People communicate both verbally (through words) and non-verbally (through facial expressions, body movements, etc.).
Communication
The process of passing information from one person to another; to make something known. People communicate both verbally (through words) and non-verbally (through facial expressions, body movements, etc.).
Communication Development
The process of growth whereby a child acquires and masters the necessary skills to pass information to, and receive information from, another person.
Community-based
A standard by which special education services may be judged. Skills are taught at varied locations in the community rather than in the classroom in order to facilitate generalization and application.
Conduct Disorder
The essential feature is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated.
Congenital
Any trait or condition that exists from birth.
Cued speech
Method of communication used by some persons with hearing impairments. It is used to reduce the ambiguities involved in lip reading. This method is caught in the controversy between teaching deaf children to rely on oral methods of communication or to use sign language.

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D

Daily Living Skills
The necessary tasks and functions required to function on a daily or regular basis. As children grow and develop, additional skills become necessary.
Deafness
Refers to a condition in an individual in which there is a total or partial loss of the sense of hearing in one or both ears, or in the area of the brain that is responsible for hearing.
Delay
Development which does not occur within expected time ranges.
Delivery (birth)
The process of giving birth.
Development
The process of growth whereby a child acquires and masters skills in the areas of motor, cognitive, language, social-emotional and adaptive functioning.
Developmental Assessment
A developmental assessment is a comprehensive examination of a child`s skills, behaviors, and family situation, conducted by a highly trained professional like a licensed psychologist. This in-person examination usually includes testing the child, using a variety of professional instruments like language, intelligence and social adaptation tests, and the careful interviewing of the child's family members. The best types of developmental assessments also include observations of children in natural settings like the home, school, the playground, etc., as well as being done by a team of experts, including psychologists, pediatricians, neurologists, etc.. These comprehensive assessments should conclude with detailed treatment plans on how best to help the child and family, with clear objectives and time lines for accomplishing the needed help.
Developmental Coordination Disorder
The essential feature is a marked impairment in the development of motor coordination. The diagnosis is made only if this impairment significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living and if the coordination difficulties are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, or muscular dystrophy).
Developmental Delay
A term used to describe the development of children who have not reached various milestones in the time frame that is typical for children of his or her chronological age in one or more areas of functioning.
Developmental Disability
A mental or physical condition beginning in childhood manifesting the following: 1) the child acquires skills at a slower rate than his or her peers, 2) the condition is expected to go on indefinitely, and 3) the condition restricts the child's ability to function in society.
Developmental Milestones
An important achievement in a person's growth, such as a child's first words or steps.
Developmental Stage
An extended period of time during the growth process where the thoughts, behaviors, and feelings of an individual remain relatively the same.
Developmentally Disabled
A person who, in the course of their growth, becomes substantially impaired either physically or mentally. Their basic life activities such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, caring for oneself, learning, or working are significantly affected.
Diagnosis
Identification of a disease, disorder, or syndrome through a method of consistent analysis.
Disability
A substantially limiting physical or mental impairment which affects basic life activities such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, caring for oneself, learning, or working.
Disabled
Individuals who display a substantially limiting physical or mental impairment which affects basic life activities such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, caring for oneself, learning or working.
Down Syndrome
A genetic syndrome in which a child usually experiences development delays and often has concurrent medical conditions including mental retardation, a small mouth, and short height.
Durable medical equipment (DME)
Equipment that is primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose, can withstand repeated use, and is appropriate for use in the home. Some examples of DME include hospital beds, walkers, wheel chairs and oxygen tents.

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E

Early Development
The growth of children in the formative years often identified from birth to 5 years of age.
Early Head Start
Head Start is a preschool program for the children of families with low income started by the federal government in 1965. Early Head Start, established in 1994, serves infants and toddlers (birth to age three) for qualifying low-income families.
Early Intervention
Specific services which are provided to infants and toddlers that show signs of, or are at risk for, having a developmental delay. These services are often tailored to the specific needs of each child with the goal of furthering development. Early intervention services are often provided at no cost to children who qualify and their families.
Emotional Development
Emotional development involves the ways children understand, express and learn to regulate their emotions as they grow.
Emotional Disturbance
A qualifying term under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that refers to an individual who exhibits chronic difficulties in the emotional and behavioral areas.
Encopresis
The essential feature is repeated passage of feces into inappropriate places (e.g., clothing or floor). Most often this is involuntary but occasionally may be intentional. The event must occur at least once a month for at least 3 months, and the chronological age of the child must be at least 4 years (or for children with developmental delays, a mental age of at least 4 years).
Enuresis
The essential feature is repeated voiding of urine during the day or at night into bed or clothes. Most often this is involuntary but occasionally may be intentional. To qualify for a diagnosis of Enuresis, the voiding of urine must occur at least twice per week for at least 3 months or else must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning. The child must have reached an age at which continence is expected (i.e., the chronological age of the child must be at least 5 years, or, for children with developmental delays, a mental age of at least 5 years).
Epilepsy
A seizure disorder of the brain characterized by abnormal electrical discharge in the brain, sometimes accompanied by convulsions, or lack of consciousness. Epilepsy is the repeated pattern of seizures.
Established Risk
When a child has already been identified with a condition known to be related to as developmental delay or disability or other medical conditions impacting on the child's development.
Etiology
The causes of a disease.
Expressive Language
The verbal and nonverbal elements of communicating to others.
Expressive Language Disorder
The essential feature is an impairment in expressive language development as demonstrated by scores on standardized individually administered measures of expressive language development which are substantially below the scores obtained from standardized measures of both nonverbal intellectual capacity and receptive language development.

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F

Failure to Thrive
A condition in some children below the third percentile in weight and height (compared to other children of the same age) caused by problems with feeding and/or care giving.
Family Centered Care (FCC)
Assures the health and well-being of children and their families through a respectful family-professional partnership. It honors the strengths, cultures, traditions and expertise that everyone brings to this relationship. Family centered care is the standard of practice which results in high quality services.
Feeding Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood
The essential feature is the persistent failure to eat adequately, as reflected in significant failure to gain weight or significant weight loss over at least 1 month.
Fine motor
Functions which require tiny muscle movements. For example, writing or typing would require fine motor movement.
Fine Motor Skills
Abilities that require coordination of the small muscles of the body such as picking up a small block with a thumb and finger.
Functional curriculum
A curriculum focused on practical life skills and usually taught in community based settings with concrete materials that are a regular part of everyday life. The purpose of this type of instruction is to maximize the student's generalization to real life use of his/her skills.
Functional Development
Children grow, develop, and function in various areas called domains. These domains include cognitive, communication, motor, adaptive, social/emotional and sensory.
Functional Developmental Approach
One of the ways a person is defined as having a special need. A child is assessed in the functional areas of child development, including such domains as cognitive, communication, motor, adaptive, social/emotional and sensory.

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G

Gait
The movement and style of the feet and legs as a person walks. Adults have symmetrical gait where both legs move at the same time creating the appearance of one moving forward and one moving backwards in relation to the body. Toddlers often have unsymmetrical gait where this movement does not occur.
Genetic
The study of the transmission of biological traits from one generation to the next.
Genetic Condition
Traits or a disorder that have been passed through the genes by one or both parents to the child.
Genetic Disorder
Biological traits are transmitted from one generation to the next through genes. Problems occur when diseases are passed to the next generation. Common genetic diseases include cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia.
Genetic Services
Include evaluation, diagnosis, follow-up, and treatment for inherited disorders and birth defects. They can include a review of family and medical history, physical examination, counseling, education, laboratory testing, and referral for appropriate management. Services provide individuals and families with information about inherited disorders, how genetic conditions are passed on in families, and the risks that a condition will affect other family members.
Gestation
The period of time during which an unborn baby develops in the mother's uterus with the average being 38-42 weeks.
Gross Motor Skills
Abilities that require coordination of the large muscles of the body such as arms and legs. Examples include jumping or climbing.

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H

Head Start Program
A preschool program for the children of families with low income started by the federal government in 1965. Ten percent or more of the children served are children with special needs. The program's goal is to help children attain their potential before beginning school.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Provides rights and protections for participants and beneficiaries in group health plans. HIPAA includes protections for coverage under group health plans that limit exclusions for preexisting conditions; prohibit discrimination against employees and dependents based on their health status; and allow a special opportunity to enroll in a new plan to individuals in certain circumstances.

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I

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Law that modifies and extends the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA).
Infants and toddlers
Children not yet three years of age.
In-home interventions
Special education services delivered in a child's own home. This is sometimes done to facilitate generalization for children with cognitive disabilities and to generalize self-control strategies for children with behavioral problems.
Intervention
Treatment or assistance given to improve a deficit or a lag in mental or physical functioning.

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L

Language
There are two different parts of language, the type we receive (receptive language) and the part we send (expressive language). Receptive language involves the understanding of thoughts, feelings, desires, and the needs of others. Expressive language involves the verbal and non-verbal elements of communicating to others.
Language Development Skills
The process through which an infant and young child acquires the capacity to communicate his or her wants, needs, feelings, and thoughts with another. Language development includes both receptive and expressive language development. Receptive language is the ability to receive and understand language. Expressive language is the ability to speak and use language to communicate with others.
Learning
The process of gaining knowledge and skills.
Learning Difficulties
A disorder involving difficulties in listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or performing math, where academic skills appear significantly below what would be expected given the person's intellectual capability.
Learning Disability (Disabilities)
A disorder that impacts a person's ability to interpret what they see and hear and/or link information from different parts of the brain. These difficulties are not caused by mental retardation or known physical problems. Areas affected can include, but are not limited to, difficulty with language, reading, or writing, and attention. An eligibility category under IDEA and described in detail within the statute.
Learning Disorders
Are diagnosed when a child's achievement on individually administered, standardized tests in reading, mathematics or written expression is substantially below that expected of the child's age, schooling and level of intelligence. The learning problems significantly interfere with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require reading, mathematical or writing skills.
Local Community Health Centers
Local medical clinics and facilities often dedicated to provide comprehensive medical services to all people.

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M

Mastered Skills
Children gain or acquire abilities at different stages of their growth. These abilities are gained in different areas or domains, such as movement (e.g. walking), thinking (e.g. the ability to solve certain problems), and language (e.g. speaking three-word sentences).
Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)
A federal organization that provides national leadership in partnership with States, communities, public-private partners, and families to strengthen the maternal and child health (MCH) infrastructure, assure the availability and use of medical homes, and build knowledge and human resources in order to assure continued improvement in the health, safety, and well-being of the maternal and child health population.
Mathematical Disorder
The essential feature is mathematic ability (as measured by individually administered standardized tests of mathematical calculation or reasoning) that falls substantially below that expected of the child's chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education.
Medical Home
An approach to delivering primary health care through a "team partnership" that ensures health care services are provided in a high-quality, cost effective and comprehensive manner.
Medical Risk Factors
A factor is a condition that brings about a result. A risk is a chance that something may occur. Therefore a medical risk factor involves the possibility that certain conditions may create or lead to a significant health problem or concern.
Memory
The mental process of retaining information that is learned and recalling it at a later point in time.
Motor
Movement of the body carried out by a combination of the brain, nervous system, and muscles.
Motor Development
The process of growth whereby a child acquires and masters skills to be able to move their body. These are carried out by a combination of the brain, nervous system, and muscles.
Motor Skill
A person's capacity to move their body depends upon the development of motor abilities. These abilities, or skills, involve the use of large body movements (gross motor skills) and those that require small movements (fine motor skills).
Multiple Births
Referring to one mother carrying and delivering more than one infant during a particular pregnancy.
Multiple Disabilities
Having more than one disability.

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N

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
A unit of a hospital where seriously ill or significantly premature newborns needing special care are tested. Typically those infants who are premature, born with a low birth weight, or who are seriously ill will be placed in the NICU.
Neonatologist
A medical doctor specialized in the care of newborn babies.
Neurobiological
An understanding of human functioning through two branches of medicine, neurology and biology. Neurology deals with the nervous system, including the brain and all the nerves in the body. Biology is the scientific study of the natural processes of living things.
Neurological Disorder
Various disorders or significant problems of the central nervous system.
Non-Verbal
There are two types of interpersonal communication, verbal and non-verbal. Non-verbal communication includes information that is transmitted without words, through body language, gestures, facial expressions or the use of symbols.
Normal Development
The typical or usual development of children. Development norms are based on years of research and observations of the usual pattern of children's development, noting when most children of a chronological age have mastered specific skills.
Nurse-Family Partnership Program
A program dedicated to families at risk. Goals often include improvement of the outcome of pregnancy, support of the child's health, and increasing self-sufficiency for the young family.

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O

Occupational Therapy
A type of health care treatment to improve self-help skills and adaptive behavior for people with development delays, illnesses, or injuries that impede their ability to function independently. New skills are taught as well as assistance in the areas of motor and sensory development. A special education related service which is usually focused upon the development of a student's fine motor skills and/or the identification of adapted ways of accomplishing activities of daily living when a student's disabilities preclude doing those tasks in typical ways (e.g. modifying clothing so a person without arms can dress himself/herself).
Ongoing Medical Condition
A chronic illness or disease that continues over a significant period of time.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
The essential feature is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least 6 months and is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors: losing temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with the requests or rules of adults, deliberately doing things that will annoy other people, blaming others for his or her own mistakes or misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry and resentful, or being spiteful or vindictive.
Orthopedic Impairment
A condition of the skeletal system of the body that may result in restricted movement and with development delays, illnesses, or injuries that impede their ability to function.
Other Health Impairment
A qualifying term under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that refers to an individual who exhibits chronic difficulties in the emotional and behavioral areas.

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P

Parroting
A type of communication that involves repeating back to the sender almost the identical message that has been received. Some children with an autistic disorder parrot phrases heard from earlier conversations or television programs.
Pediatrician
A medical doctor who specializes in the treatment and care of infants, children and adolescents.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development: reciprocal social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities.
Phonological Disorder
The essential feature is a failure to use developmentally expected speech sounds that are appropriate for the child's age and dialect. This may involve errors in sound production, use, representation, or organization such as, but not limited to, substitutions of one sound for another (use of /t/ for target /k/ sound) or omissions of sounds (e.g., final consonants).
Physical Development
A healthy body grows and changes over time in every area, such as height, weight, muscle growth and bone thickness. Physical development encompasses the growth of the entire human body.
Physical Therapy
A type of treatment or therapy designed to help an individual who has difficulty with physical movement. The physical therapist uses heat, exercise, water and other treatments to help improve muscle strength, range of motion, and motor skills.
Premature
A baby born before 37 weeks gestation (the time from conception to birth) is considered premature; when born before 32 weeks, a child is considered significantly premature.
Prenatal Development
The growth of an embryo and fetus from conception to birth. There are many factors, such as genetics and the mother's health, that influence the health of the child.
Problem Behavior
A behavior is a way a person acts, reacts, or functions. In the development of a child, certain behaviors may become a problem when they interfere with everyday functioning. Causes of these behaviors may include physical, emotional, or intellectual factors.
Problem Solving
The skill of trying different approaches to resolve a difficulty or problem. Children (and people of all ages) learn from this trial-and-error process helping them to resolve similar problems in a more efficient way.
Psychologist
A specialist in one or more areas of psychology; a field of science that studies the mind and behaviors. Areas of specialty can include psychological testing and practitioners of therapy or counseling.

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R

Reading Disorder
The essential feature is reading achievement (I.e., reading accuracy, speed or comprehension as measured by individually administered standardized tests) that falls substantially below that expected given the child's chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education.
Reasoning
Using systematic logical thinking to solve problems or come to a conclusion.
Receptive and Expressive Language Development
The process of growth whereby a child acquires and masters skills in the two different parts of language. Receptive language is the type we receive and expressive language is the part we send. Receptive language involves the understanding of thoughts, feelings, desires, and the needs of others. Expressive language involves the verbal and non-verbal elements of communicating to others.
Receptive Language
Understanding the thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs communicated by others through verbal and non-verbal elements.
Regress
When a person retreats to a form of behavior common to a younger person (e.g. a 13 year-old wetting the bed). This can occur when a person is dealing with significant stress.
Respite Care
A short period of rest or relief. Parents of a child with a disability may qualify for respite services when a child is cared for by a third party allowing the parent(s) to take care of other needs away from the child, like the needs of themselves or other children in the family.
Risk Factors
A factor is a condition that brings about a result. A risk is a chance that something may occur. With health concerns, and specifically Special Needs, certain conditions, such as genetics, may increase the possibility of diseases or disabilities developing.
Rumination Disorder
The essential feature is the repeated regurgitation and rechewing of food occurring after feeding that develops in an infant or child after a period of normal functioning and lasts for at least 1 month. Partially digested food is brought up into the mouth without apparent nausea, retching, disgust, or associated gastrointestinal disorder. The food is then either ejected from the mouth or, more frequently, chewed and reswallowed.

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S

Seizure
A condition when the brain fires electrical impulses at a rate up to four times higher than normal. Patterns of repeated seizures are referred to as epilepsy or Seizure Disorders. A seizure can be mild and brief, such as in many petit mal seizures where an individual may appear to have been daydreaming momentarily. Or they can be more dramatic as in the violent uncontrollable contraction of a group of muscles and unconsciousness.
Seizure Disorder
A seizure disorder includes any condition of the brain in which there are repeated seizures.
Selective Mutism
The essential feature is the persistent failure to speak in specific social situations (e.g., school, with playmates) where speaking is expected, despite speaking in other situations. The disturbance must last for at least 1 month and is not limited to the first month of school (during which many children may be shy and reluctant to speak).
Self-Care
A person's ability to use certain skills and resources to attend to their own needs. At each age in life a society has certain expectations about what their members are to accomplish.
Self-Esteem
An overall evaluation of the self regarding a sense of worth.
Self-Injurious Behavior
Self-inflicted bodily harm. Harm done to the self by an individual. Individuals with an autistic spectrum disorder are often prone to self-injurious behavior.
Sensorimotor Stage
The first stage of mental development according to theorist Jean Piaget. During the first two years of life children learn about the world through their five senses: touch, taste, hearing, vision, and smell.
Sensory Integration
Information is received from both internal and external environments through the five senses of vision, touch, taste, hearing, vision, and smell. Our senses are integrated when the nervous system directs this information to the appropriate parts of the brain that enables an individual to attain skills.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
The essential feature is excessive anxiety concerning separation from the home or from those to whom the child is attached. This anxiety is beyond that which is expected for the child's developmental level. The disturbance must last for a period of at least 4 weeks, begin before age 18 years, and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning.
Service Eligibility
Conditions that must be met to qualify for particular resources and help.
Sign Language
A method of communicating using hand gestures. Individuals with a hearing loss or impairment often use this form of language.
Social Development
The process of development in which a child learns the skills, rules and values that will enable him or her to form connections and function among family members, peers and members of society.
Special Needs
The Special or unique, out-of-the-ordinary concerns created by a person's medical, physical, mental, or developmental condition or disability. Additional services are usually needed to help a person in one or more of the following areas, among others, thinking, communication, movement, getting along with others, and taking care of self.
Specific Learning Disability
A disorder that impacts a person's ability to interpret what they see and hear and/or link information from different parts of the brain in learning tasks. These difficulties are not caused by mental retardation or known physical problems. Specific areas can include, but are not limited to such areas as difficulty reading, writing, or math.
Speech
The act of talking, often involving a verbal interaction and communication with another person.
Speech and Language Therapy
Therapeutic treatment to address the concerns of speech and language impairments or deficits.
Speech or Language Impairment
Communication problems that have to do with speech disorders include not speaking at all, speaking at a later time in life than peers, substituting sounds, or difficulties with coordination of tongue, lips, and mouth to perform certain sounds.
Stuttering
The essential feature is a disturbance in the normal fluency and time patterning of speech that is inappropriate for the child's age. This disturbance is characterized by frequent repetitions or prolongations of sounds or syllables.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
A monthly stipend provided to aged (legally deemed to be 65 or older), blind, or disabled persons based on need.
Syndrome
A group of signs or symptoms that are usually clustered together and characterize a disease or a condition. Down Syndrome is an example of a syndrome resulting from an extra chromosome that affects both the physical and intellectual development of the child.

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T

Toddler
A child between the approximate ages of one and three. Prior to age one, children are referred to as infants, and at approximately age three, they become pre-schoolers. The name toddler is used because of the way a young child toddles around when first learning to walk.
Tourettes Disorder
The essential features are multiple motor ticks and one or more vocal tics. These may appear simultaneously or at different periods during the illness. The tics occur many times a day, recurrently throughout a period of more than 1 year. During this period, there is never a tic-free period of more than 3 consecutive months. The onset of the disorder is before age 18 years.
Transition planning
At a minimum, this is planning for adolescents' post-school lives and must begin by age 14-1/2. This involves preparation of a document called an Individual Transition Program (ITP). Good practice may involve planning for earlier transitions as well as incorporating such plans into the child's IEP.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Harm or damage to the brain causing different problems including loss or lack of cognitive abilities, seizures, and difficulties with movement and speaking. A new disability category added for eligibility under IDEA.
Typical
Traits common to a specific group of people. Walking is typical for two-year-old children.

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V

Ventilator
Also known as a respirator, a medical device with an attached tube inserted into the lungs that helps a person breathe when they cannot breathe on their own. The ventilator pumps oxygen into the lungs.
Visual Impairment
An individual with a visual impairment has a reduction in their ability to see, ranging from partial sight, to total loss of vision.
Visual-motor
Co-ordination of what is seen with an action. For example, one uses visual-motor coordination when catching a ball.

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W

WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children)
Federal assistance program of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for healthcare and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five.
Written Expression Disorder
The essential feature is writing skills (as measured by an individually administered standardized test or functional assessment of writing skills) that fall substantially below those expected given the child's chronological age, measured, intelligence, and age-appropriate education.

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Education Related Terms

Achievement/ability discrepancy
A criterion often used to determine whether a child has a learning disability. It asks, is the child working up to expectations? One "formula" for determining the presence of a discrepancy has been promulgated by the Illinois State Board of Education. Some districts have developed their own. Some scholarly texts offer alternative formulae. ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. This law follows the principles established under Section 504. It provides for the protection from discrimination of persons with disabilities and allows claims for compensatory and punitive damages.
Alternate Standard Educational Program
Any of numerous options which can exist within a school's curriculum which do not involve students' being served in a special education class. For example, a school might have an intensive remedial program, a vocation program, etc.
Annual goals
A required component of an IEP. Goals are written for the individual student and can be for a maximum of one year.

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Continuum of services
The range of services which must be available to the students of a school district so that they may be served in the least restrictive environment.
Curriculum-based assessment
A methodology of increasing importance in special education in which a child's progress in the curriculum is measured at frequent intervals.

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DSM IV
The fourth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes guidelines and criteria for diagnosing and classifying mental disorders.
Due process
In general, due process includes the elements of notice, opportunity to be heard and to defend ones' self. With regard to IDEA, due process refers to a specific set of procedures described in 23 IAC Part 226. With regard to Section 504, procedures are less clearly specified. With regard to student discipline matters, the amount of process that is due is largely dependent upon the degree of jeopardy involved.

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Early Head Start
Head Start is a preschool program for the children of families with low income started by the federal government in 1965. Early Head Start, established in 1994, serves infants and toddlers (birth to age three) for qualifying low-income families.
EMH - educably mentally handicapped
An eligibility category under IDEA including children whose cognitive development is approximately one-half to three-fourths the average rate and is accompanied by similar delays in adaptive behavior.
Extended school day
A provision for a special education student to receive instruction for a period longer than the standard school day. This sometimes includes "double" kindergarten, later afternoons, or earlier starting times.
Extended school year
A provision for a special education student to receive instruction during ordinary school "vacation" periods.

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FAPE - free appropriate public education
Provision as required under IDEA.
FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
A federal law that regulates the management of student records and disclosure of information from those records. The Act has its own administrative enforcement mechanism.

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ICD-9
A standardized coding resource used by physicians and other health care professionals to identify various diseases and conditions. Categorized into 17 different areas, the coding system ranges from 001-999. The International Classification of Disorders is in its ninth edition.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Law that modifies and extends the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA).
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Every child receiving special education must have a written Individualized Education Program (IEP). This written program plan states the individual goals for the child, and the accommodations and services the school district agrees to provide for the child receiving special education.
IEP meeting
A gathering required at least annually under IDEA in which an IEP is developed for a student receiving special education.
Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)
Document which outlines the services to be delivered to families of infants and toddlers receiving special services. By federal and state laws this plan is intended to document the delivery of community-based, interagency services for families with young children who have disabilities.
Inclusion
For children with special needs or disabilities, inclusion means full participation in programs designed for typically developing children.
Instructional placement
Phrase used to describe the situation in which a child spends at least half of his/her school day in special education.

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Local Educational Agency (LEA)
i.e., a local public school district.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
A requirement of IDEA.

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Mainstreaming
This term does not actually appear in law. It refers to IDEA's preference for the education of every child in the least restrictive environment for each student and has been most widely used to refer to the return of children with mild disabilities to a regular classroom for a portion of each school day.

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Regression/recoupment
The amount of loss of skills a child experiences over an instructional break (primarily summer vacation) and the amount of time it takes him/her to recover the lost skills. Standards for when regression and recoupment concerns require summer school are developed in case law and in state and federal policy letters.
Related services
IDEA requires that school districts provide whatever related services (other than medical care which is not for diagnostic purposes) a child needs in order to benefit from his or her special education program.
Resource placement
A special education placement for less than half a child's school day. Such a classroom is usually called a "resource room."

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Section 504
Provision of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits recipients of federal funds from discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Standardized tests
Tests which have norms reflecting a larger population (usually these are age or grade based norms reflecting the performance of children throughout the country on the same tests).

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Transition planning
At a minimum, this is planning for adolescents' post-school lives and must begin by age 14-1/2. This involves preparation of a document called an Individual Transition Program (ITP). Good practice may involve planning for earlier transitions as well as incorporating such plans into the child's IEP.

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