Glossary of Special Education. Terms


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accommodations- by state definition, "the provisions made to allow a student to access and demonstrate learning. Accommodations do not substantially change the instructional level, the content or the performance criteria, but are made in order to provide a student equal access to learning and equal opportunity to demonstrate what is known."

adaptations -by state definition, changes made to the environment, curriculum, and instruction and/or assessment practices in order for a student to be a successful learner. Adaptations include accommodations and modifications.

ancillary service- a supplemental service needed for a student with a disability to benefit from the student's educational program as specified in the IEP; such services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, orientation and mobility training, and sign language interpreting.

assistive technology device- by federal definition, "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability"

assistive technology service- by federal definition, "any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device"

attention deficit disorder- (ADD) a medical condition characterized by significant and persistent difficulties in one or more of the following areas: attention span, impulse control, activity level

auditory trainer- a wireless FM device used by a teacher and a hearing impaired student to amplify sound and allow both the teacher and student to move about freely

auditory training- the methods used to teach hearing impaired students to make full use of their residual hearing ability

augmentative communication- alternative ways of communicating that do not use speech

autism- a severe childhood disorder involving extreme social isolation, difficulty communicating, bizarre behavior, echolalia, limited mental abilities, and delayed development; a special education category for such children; also see category definition


behavior disorders- behavior characteristics that deviate from what is generally considered normal and that interfere with the functioning of a student and others

Braille- a system using raised dots that allows blind students to "read" using their fingertip


cerebral palsy- a developmental disability resulting from brain damage before, during or soon after birth; characterized by weakness or paralysis of the extremities, poor coordination and other motor problems

child find- a process to locate, identify and evaluate children residing within the school district boundaries who are in need of special education and related services; this includes students with disabilities attending private schools but not children attending charter schools.

child study team (CST)- a group of educators at a school who assist teachers and parents with alternative teaching and behavior management strategies for special needs students

child with a disability- a child who is at least three but less than 22 years of age, who has been evaluated and found to have at least one of the following disabilities and who, because of the disability, needs special education and related services: autism, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment (including deafness), multiple disabilities, mental retardation (mild, moderate or severe), multiple disabilities with severe sensory impairment, other health impairment, orthopedic impairment, preschool (moderate, severe, or speech and language) delay, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment

comprehensive developmental assessment- evaluation of a preschool child to determine the child’s need for preschool special education services

conduct disorder- a disorder characterized by acting-out, aggressive, and disruptive behavior; also see socially maladjusted, behavior disorders

critical learning stage- that time when a student who has mastered a concept or skill in one setting is ready to generalize what has been learned within other settings


deafness- a hearing impairment so severe that it impairs processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification; a category of special education; also see category definition

developmental disability- chronic disability caused by a mental or physical impairment and resulting in severe limitations in self-help, communication, learning, mobility, or independent living; for state eligibility purposes: autism, cerebral palsy, severe epilepsy, or mental retardation

disability- a physical or psychological condition that interferes with a child's ability to normally develop, learn or relate with others

discrepancy- in reference to testing, the difference between the child’s ability as measured by IQ and actual achievement

distractibility- inability to attend to the appropriate or relevant stimuli in a given situation

Division of Developmental Disabilities- a state agency responsible for providing child welfare services for developmentally disabled children and their families

Down Syndrome- a chromosomal disorder with characteristic flat facial features, mental retardation and other congenital defects

due process- referring to parental rights and safeguards guaranteed by IDEA that provide a legal way for parents of a child with a disability to resolve their differences with a school district

dyslexia- impaired reading ability


educable mentally handicapped- see mild mental retardation

Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (PL 94-142)- a comprehensive federal law requiring public schools to identify, evaluate, and provide free, appropriate educational services for students with disabilities; also see Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

educational disadvantage- by state definition, "a condition which has limited a child's opportunity for educational experience resulting in a child achieving less than a normal level of learning development"

eligible for special education meeting- one or more of the definitions of a student with a disability and requiring require special education services in order to benefit from an educational program

emotional disturbance (ED)- having a long-standing, severe condition that adversely affects personal adjustment, social relationships and learning; a category of special education; also see category definition

epilepsy- a seizure disorder caused by abnormal, excessive brain discharges

ethnicity- a distinct group of people recognized as a class based upon characteristics, such as religion, language, ancestry, culture, or national origin

evaluation procedures- used to determine whether a student is disabled and the nature of the special education and related services the student needs

extended school year services- a summer program for special education students who lose important skills (such as those related to self-sufficiency, socialization, communication and academics) because of regular breaks in instruction and who require an excessive amount of time to regain those skills

exceptional child- by state definition, "a gifted child or a child with a disability"

expulsion- expulsion the permanent withdrawal of a student's privilege to attend school, unless the governing board of a school district reinstates the privilege


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)- federal legislation that guarantees access to educational records by parents and eligible students while preventing the disclosure of records without their consent

fluency- disorders interruptions of the natural, smooth flow of speech by inappropriate hesitations, pauses or repetitions

foster parent- a person who may serve as the parent of a child with disabilities if that person has an ongoing, long-term parental relationship with the child, is willing to make educational decisions for the child and has no personal interest that would conflict with the interests of the child

free appropriate public education (FAPE)- special education and related services provided at public expense and in conformance with federal and state regulatory requirements to meet the individual educational needs of disabled students

functional assessment of behavior- a way to systematically identify positive and negative behaviors by observing a student to develop behavior intervention strategies

functional skills- tasks and activities most often required in everyday life


general curriculum- the content of the curriculum adopted by the governing board of each school district

grade equivalent- score refers to the level of test performance of an average student at that grade level, e.g., a score of 4.6 means that on a particular test, the student scored the same as other students in the 6th month of the 4th grade.


hearing impairment (HI)- a hearing disability ranging from mild to profoundly severe; a category of special education; also see category definition

home school district- the school district in which a person resides who has legal custody of the child. If the child is a ward of the state and a specific person does not have legal custody of the child, the home school district is the district that the child last attended, or, if the child has not previously attended a public school in the state, the school district within which the child currently resides.

homebound or hospitalized- referring to a student who is certified by a doctor as unable to attend school due to illness, accident or other health problems for at least three school months or for intermittent periods of time totaling three school months during the school year

hyperactivity- excessive movement or restlessness often accompanied by inattention and impulsivity


IDEA see Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

impulsivity- the tendency to react quickly and inappropriately to a situation rather than to take the time to consider alternatives and to choose carefully

independent education evaluation- an evaluation conducted by a qualified evaluator who is not employed by the public education agency responsible for the education of the student

individualized family service plan (IFSP)- a written plan like an IEP but for an infant or toddler (from birth through two years of age)

individualized education program (IEP)- by state definition, "a written statement for providing special education services to a child with a disability that includes the pupil's present levels of educational performance, the annual goals and the short-term measurable objectives for evaluating progress toward those goals and the specific special education and related services to be provided"

individualized education program team (IEP team)- a student's parents and a team of knowledgeable educators authorized to write an appropriate educational program for a special education student

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)- passed by Congress in 1990 and most recently re-authorized in 1997; amendments to and the continuation of The Education of the Handicapped Act

Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Program- that part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requiring the states to develop a coordinated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary system to provide early intervention services for children (and their families) under three years of age who have disabilities or who are at risk of substantial developmental delays

informal academic assessment- the pre-referral academic testing conducted by a teacher prior to a referral for an evaluation

instructional objectives- in an IEP, the measurable steps to be taken to achieve the annual goals

integration- mixing disabled and non disabled individuals in education and community environments

intervention- a method or strategy designed to change an individual's behavioral, medical, or health status

IQ (intelligence quotient)- a measure of intelligence obtained from an intelligence test and usually expressed as a standard score with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 or 16 depending upon the test being used

itinerant services- a program model in which a special education teacher or therapist provides services in the regular education environment

itinerant teacher- regularly goes from school to school to consult with other teachers and provide special instruction for disabled students


learning disability see Specific learning disability

least restrictive environment (LRE)- the educational setting that lets an exceptional student participate as much as possible in the regular classroom but that still meets the student's special needs

legally blind- having visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction or a field of vision reduced by an angle of 20 degrees or less in the better eye

limited English proficient (LEP)- by state definition, "having a low level of skill in comprehending, speaking, reading or writing English because of being from an environment in which another language is spoken"

local education agency (LEA)- either a public school district or county accommodation school

long-term suspension- the temporary withdrawal of a student's privilege to attend school for more than 10 school days


mainstreaming- placing disabled students into regular education classes while meeting their individual needs

manifestation hearing- a meeting held in response to the misconduct of a disabled student to determine if the misconduct was substantially related to the student’s disability.

mediation- an informal problem-solving process for parents and schools to resolve their differences concerning special education matters with the assistance of a trained mediator who is neutral and knowledgeable about special education

mental retardation- a condition occurring during the developmental period, characterized by below normal general intelligence and difficulty coping with the social demands of a person's environment; traditionally defined as an IQ score below 70 with impaired adaptive behavior

mild mental retardation (MIMR)- describing students who have significantly below average intelligence, underachieve, learn at a slower rate than normal children, and have more difficulty functioning within their social environment; a category of special education for such students; also see category definition

moderate mental retardation (MOMR)- a level of intellectual retardation of students who generally have an IQ between 40 and 55, a slow rate of development, and semi-dependence throughout life; they potentially can learn self-care and some functional academic and vocational skills; a category of special education; also see category definition

modifications- by state definition, "substantial changes in what a student is expected to learn and to demonstrate. Changes may be made in the instructional level, the content or the performance criteria. Such changes are made to provide a student with meaningful and productive learning experiences, environments, and assessments based on individual needs and abilities."

multidisciplinary evaluation team (MET)- by state definition, "a team of persons including individuals described as the individualized education program team and other qualified professionals who shall determine whether a child is eligible for special education"

multiple disabilities (MD)- having more than one disability, such as emotionally disabled and mentally retarded; a category of special education; also see category definition

multiple disabilities- with severe sensory impairment having more than one disability, including a severe visual or hearing impairment; a category of special education; also see category definition


native language- by federal definition, the language normally used by the child in the home or learning environment, and for an individual with deafness or blindness, or with no written language, the mode of communication normally used by the individual (such as sign language, Braille, or oral communication)

norm-referenced test- a test that compares a student's score to the scores of a representative group of students the same age


occupational therapist- a specialist in assessing and providing therapy for students who have difficulty performing self-help, play or perceptual-motor skills such as paper and pencil use and eye-hand coordination

occupational therapy- the use of work-related skills to help disabled students regain or improve self-help, play or perceptual-motor skills

orientation and mobility training- teaching visually impaired students how to improve their awareness of their position in space and their relation to objects in space (orientation), and to move about independently, safely and purposefully (mobility)

orthopedic impairment (OI)- having a condition that impairs the normal development of muscle activities (e.g., having spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or loss of limbs); a category of special education; also see category definition

other health impairments (OHI)- chronic health problems such as severe asthma, epilepsy, hemophilia, heart problems and diabetes; a category of special education; also see category definition

out-of-home care- by state definition, "the placement of a child with a disability outside of the home environment and includes twenty-four hour residential care, group care or foster care on either a full-time or part-time basis"


parent- by state definition, "the natural or adoptive parent of a child, the legal guardian of a child, a relative with whom a child resides and who is acting as the parent of that child, a surrogate parent who has been appointed for a child... or a foster parent..."; also see foster parent, surrogate parent

percentile rank- a derived test score that indicates what percentage of the norm group was exceeded by the individual's score, e.g., a percentile rank of 47 means the student scored better than did 47 percent (47 out of 100) students.

physical handicap see orthopedic impairment

physical therapist- a specialist who assesses and treats deficits in gross motor, fine motor and self-help skills

physical therapy rehabilitation- concerned with helping students regain or improve their physical abilities

pragmatics- the study of the functional (social) use of language rather than its mechanics

prior written notice- means by which parents are informed in advance of actions proposed or refused by the school in reference to special education referrals, evaluations, and services

pre-academic skills- skills needed before formal teaching can begin, such as identifying colors, shapes, letters and numbers

precision teaching- instruction involving (1) pinpointing behaviors to be changed, (2) measuring the frequency of behaviors, (3) designing teaching plans or intervention procedures, (4) measuring performance continuously and directly, and (5) graphing data to analyze trends and ensure that aims are met

preschool child- by state definition, "a child who is at least three years of age, but who has not reached the required age for kindergarten"

preschool moderate delay- moderately subnormal development in cognitive, physical, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive functioning; a category of special education for preschool children; also see category definition

preschool severe delay- severely deficient development in cognitive, physical, communication, social or emotional, or adaptive functioning; a category of special education for preschool children; also see category definition

preschool speech/language delay- characteristic of a preschool child having at least moderately delayed speech or language development; a category special education; also see category definition

prior written notice- means by which parents are informed whenever a school proposes or refuses to initiate or change the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child, including identification, evaluation, or educational placement

psychologist- a specialist in evaluating, diagnosing and treating students with social, emotional, behavioral, learning or developmental problems

psychometrist- a person trained in testing the psychological characteristics of students


qualified- a person who has met state approved or recognized certification, licensing, registration or other comparable requirements that apply to the area in which he or her is providing special education or related services


readiness skills- skills needed before academics can be learned, such as knowing letter names, following directions, and attending to tasks

redirection- a non-punitive behavioral intervention strategy in which children are lead to adopt acceptable substitute behaviors for their inappropriate actions

referral- see special education referral

regression -the loss of learned skills or acquired knowledge during a break in instruction; also see extended school year services

regular education- initiative a movement in the United States to make general education, rather than special education, more responsible for the education of disabled children

related services- transportation and other support services, such as speech or physical therapy, required for a disabled student to benefit from special education

remedial instruction- supplemental instruction designed to help students with learning problems develop the skills needed for success within the regular classroom

residence- the home in which the student resides

residential special education placement- placement of a child with a disability in a public or private residential program, in order to provide necessary special education and related services as specified in the child’s individualized education program

residential treatment center (Residential Treatment Center (RTC))- a private institution licensed by the Arizona Department of Economic Security or Department of Health Services to provide residential care and treatment, and approved by the Department of Education to provide special education services

resource services- a program model in which students are taken out of the general classroom to receive services in a special education classroom for part of the school day

resource teacher- a special education teacher who provides instructional services to students with disabilities in a resource classroom

reverse mainstreaming- placing non disabled students in classes in which most of the students are disabled


screening- an initial review, conducted within 45 days, for students new to a school district to determine if they may have problems in the areas of vision, hearing, communication, academic, and social/emotional functioning

Section 504- that part of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring that people with disabilities have reasonable access to jobs, education, housing and public facilities

self-contained services- a program model in which special education students receive specialized instruction for all or most of the school day

severe mental retardation (SMR)- a term applied to retarded students whose IQ scores fall below 40; they usually have physical and sensory impairments as well; a category of special education for such students; also see category definition

short-term suspension- the temporary withdrawal of a student's privilege to attend school for 10 or fewer school days

sign language- a formal language employing a system of hand gestures for communication (as by the deaf)

slow learner- an imprecise term describing students who have significantly below average intelligence but are not considered retarded

social skills training- a systematic way to teach adaptive social behavior that includes assessing skills, modeling, and role playing

socially maladjusted- referring to a person who violates laws or community standards but conforms to standards of some social subgroup, such as a gang; by state definition, "a person who chooses the inappropriate behavior in the nature of an antisocial behavior, a behavior disorder, or a conduct disorder which is exhibited to reach a goal"

special education- adjustments to the school environment, modifications in curricula and adaptations in teaching provided in order for a gifted or disabled student to receive an appropriate education

special education- referral a written request for an evaluation to determine if a student qualifies for special education services

specific learning disability (SLD)- a general term referring to a group of disorders that usually involves problems in understanding or using spoken or written language or mathematics; a category of special education; also see category definition

speech/language impairment (SLI)- a disability involving impaired receptive or expressive language skills, stuttering or serious articulation problems; a category of special education; also see category definition

speech pathologist- a specialist in evaluating, diagnosing and treating students with communication disorders

standard deviation- a measure of the amount by which an individual test score differs from the mean (average) score

standard score- in reference to testing, a derived score that shows how far a given score is above or below the average score of the norm group

standardized tests assessment- instruments that include precise instructions for administering and scoring, and that meet certain validity and reliability criteria

state educational agency (SEA)- the state agency (Arizona Department of Education) responsible for the public school system

state supported institution (SSI)- any state agency that operates a school or receives state or federal special education funds, e.g., the Division of Developmental Disabilities

supplementary aids and services- special education services provided in the regular classroom, including adaptive physical education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, an interpreter for the deaf, a classroom aide, orientation and mobility training, Braille, large print and other low vision aids, or consultation by a special education teacher

surrogate parent- a person appointed by the court to represent a student in decisions regarding special education


time out- a short period of social isolation during which a student cannot receive attention or earn rewards

total communication- teaching language to hearing impaired children by combining aural, oral and manual methods

trainable mentally handicapped- see moderate mental retardation

transition services- services needed to help special education students make the transition from school to post-school activities, such as college education, employment, and independent living

traumatic brain injured (Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI))- a disabling brain injury caused by external or internal trauma; a category of special education for children with such a condition; also see category definition


validity- in reference to tests, the extent to which a test measures what it is suppose to measure

visual impairment (VI)- limited vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance; a category of special education for children with such a condition; also see category definition

voice disorders; voice impairments -inappropriate intensity, pitch, or quality of vocal tone produced at the larynx and resonated in the pharynx, oral cavity or nasal cavity

voucher system- a system established by the State of Arizona to place and pay for children needing residential placement to receive appropriate special education services

Dictionary of Special Education Terms

Activities of Daily Living (ADL) - activities that make a student independent in his environment, such as dressing, eating, and toileting.

Adaptive Development - development of the child in comparison to other children the same age. This might include the child’s ability to dress himself, feed himself, toilet training, how he/she plays with other children, how he/she plays along, understanding dangers in crossing the street, how he/she behaves if mother leaves the room, etc.

Adaptive Physical Education (APE) - a related service; an individual program of developmental activities, games, sports and rhythms suited to the interests, capacities, and limitations of students with disabilities who may not safely or successfully engage in unrestricted participation in the vigorous activities of the general physical education program.

Advocate - someone who takes action to help someone else (as in "educational advocate"); also, to take action on someone’s behalf.

Amendment - a change, revision, or addition made to a law. Appeal – a written request for a change in a decision; also, to make such a request.

Appropriate - able to meet a need; suitable or fitting; in special education; it usually Q means the most normal situation possible.

Assessment - a collecting and bringing together of information about a child’s needs, which may include social, psychological, and educational evaluations used to determine services; a process using observation, testing, and test analysis to determine an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in order to plan his or her educational services.

Assessment Plan - the description of the battery of tests (psychological, achievement, language, etc.) to be used in a particular student’s assessment.

Assessment Team - a team of people from different backgrounds who observe and test a child to determine his or her strengths and weaknesses.

At Risk – a term used with children who have, or could have, problems with their development that may affect later learning.

Audiological Services - a related service; includes identifying children with hearing loss and providing services that will help children with hearing losses maximize their strengths and abilities.

Auditory Processing - the ability to understand and use information that is heard, both words as well as other non-verbal sounds.

Autism - a disability; characterized by severe language and communication deficits, lack of normal relatedness, bizarre movement and self-stimulatory patterns, lack of normal handling of toys and other objects, and lack of most normal functional skills.

Behavior Disorder - a disability; a behavior which causes a child to have difficulty learning or getting along with others, the causes of this disorder may vary greatly.

Child Find - a service directed by each state’s Department of Education or lead agency for identifying and diagnosing unserved children with disabilities; while Child Find looks for all unserved children, it makes a special effort to identify children from birth to six years old.

Chronologically Age-Appropriate - making the activities, behaviors, or settings of a disabled child as similar as possible to those of a non-disabled child of the same age.

Cognitive - a term that describes the process people use for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and using judgment; in special education terms, a cognitive disability refers to difficulty in learning.

Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC) - a group of parents and professionals, mandated by law, that advises the Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools and school district administration about special education programs and policies.

Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) - the agency designated to provide mental health assessment and services to students with special needs.

Community-Based Instruction (CBI) - a model for delivery of instruction in which IEP goals are met in a "natural", age-appropriate setting. For example, math, sequencing, travel, and social skills may all be developed in the setting of a trip to the grocery store.

Communicatively Handicapped (CH) - a disability; difficulty understanding language or using language to the extent that it interferes with learning; also a disability category containing the currently-used labels of severe disorder of language, hearing handicapped, and language delay.

Compliance Complaint - the specific issue and/or resolution process involved when a school district is accused of violating educational law.

Comprehensive Service System - refers to a list of 14 areas each participating state is to provide under early intervention services. These 14 points range from definition of developmentally delayed, to guidelines for identification, assessment, and provision of early intervention services for the child and family, and include timelines and quality control.

Counseling - a related service; advice or help given by someone qualified to give such advice or help (often psychological counseling); includes parents and children receiving assistance from social workers, psychologists, and/or guidance counselors.

Deaf-Blind (DB) - a disability; a loss of both hearing and vision abilities requiring special education to achieve full potential.

Designated Instruction and Services (DIS) - sometimes called related services; specialized instructional, and/or support services identified through an assessment and written on an IEP as necessary for a child to benefit from special education (e.g. speech/ language therapy, vision services, etc.)

Developmental - having to do with the steps or stages in growth and development before the age of 18 years

Developmental History - the developmental progress of a child (ages birth to 18 years) in such skills as sitting, walking, talking or learning

Developmental Tests - standardized tests that measure a child’s development as it compares to the development of all other children at that age

Developmentally Delayed (daughter) – a term used to describe the development of children who are not able to perform the skills other children of the same age are usually able to perform.

Differential Proficiency Standards - the standards for graduation adopted by ihe school district for special education students who cannot attain the regular proficiency standards due to their disability.

Disability - the result of any physical or mental condition that affects or prevents one’s ability to develop, achieve, and/or function in an educational setting at a normal rate

Due Process (procedure) - action that protects a person’s rights; in special education, this applies to action taken to protect the educational rights of students with disabilities. Also, the legal procedures set up to resolve disagreements between parents and school districts over some part of a child’s special education program.

Early Intervention Policies - see policy/policies

Early Intervention Program - a program in which problems that have been discovered in a child’s development are remediated before the child’s later development and learning are seriously affected.

Early Intervention Services - programs or services designed to identify and treat a developmental problem as early as possible, before age 3 (services for 3-5 year olds are referred to as preschool services)

Early Interventionist - someone who specializes in early childhood development, usually having a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in an area related to the development of infants, toddler, and preschoolers

Educable Mentally Handicapped (EMH) - a disability; having a mild delay in the ability to learn and to function independently in the everyday environment; a mild delay is defined as a rate of development and learning that is 50% to 75% of what is expected of a person the same age.

Eligible - able to quality

Evaluation – (as applied to children from birth through two years of age) the procedures used to determine if a child is eligible for early intervention services; (as applied to preschool and school-aged children) the procedures used to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services the child needs

Extended School Year (ESY) - summer school for children with special needs.

Fair Hearing - the same as a due process hearing; a formal hearing that is called by parents or school district personnel when they cannot agree on a student’s educational program; the decision about the student’s program is made by an outside, impartial individual.

Free Appropriate Public Education (often referred to as FAPE) - one of the key requirements of IDEA, which requires that an education program be provided for all school-aged children (regardless of disability) without cost to families; the exact requirements of "appropriate" are not defined, but other references within the law imply the most "normal" setting available

Full English Proficiency (FEP)

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) – a program designed to meet the educational needs of students with above average intelligence in specific learning areas; a student may be eligible for both special education and GATE.

Guidance – a related service; similar to counseling.

Handicap – see disability

Health and Nursing Service - a related service; health-related services provided by a school nurse or by another trained professional.

Hearing Handicap/Hearing Impairment (HH) - a disability; a hearing loss that interferes with the ability to understand or use language and that affects learning in school.

Heterogeneous Classroom - a grouping of children with similar educational needs but with dissimilar disabilities.

Homogeneous Classroom - a grouping of children with similar disabilities.

Identification – the process of locating and identifying children needing special services. Also, the referral to the school district of a child who might be eligible for special education services.

Identification and Assessment (I & A) - the process or unit where students’ special educational needs are evaluated.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) - a written education plan, mandated by law, for a school-aged child with disabilities developed by a team of professionals (teacher, therapists, etc.) and the child’s parents that defines a child’s disability, states current levels of educational performance, describes the child’s learning and educational needs, what services the child will need, and specifies annual goals and short-term objectives. It is reviewed and updated yearly. (For children ages birth through 2 years, the IFSP is used.)

Individual Transition Plan (ITP) - an educational plan designed to facilitate a student’s move from one setting to another (e.g. from one classroom or school to another, or from school to work).

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) - a written statement for an infant or toddler (ages birth through 2 years old) developed by a team of people who have worked with the child and the family; the IFSP must describe the child’s development levels; family information; major outcomes expected to be achieved for the child and family; the services the child will be receiving; when and where the child will receive these services; and the steps to be taken to support the transition of the child to another program; the IFSP will also list the name of the service coordinator assigned to the child and his/her family.

Individuals With Exceptional Needs (IWENS) - legislative term for students with special needs.

Individual Program Plan (IPP) – an annually-reviewed record of program and service needs provided by the regional eenter (e.g. respite care, behavior management training, etc.).

Integration - the joining of two groups that were previously separated; in this case, non-disabled children and children with disabilities. For example, a child in a special day class has opportunities to interact and learn with nondisabled peers; these interactions can occur in the regular education classroom or during nonacademic activities such as recess, lunch, or physical education.

Language Delay - a delay in the development of a child’s ability to use or understand language.

Lead Agency - the agency (office) within a state or territory in charge of overseeing and coordinating service systems for children ages birth through 2.

Learning Disability (Learning Disability (LD)) - see "specific learning disability."

Learning Handicapped (LH) - a disability; a child’s regular education classroom performance is significantly below expected levels; also a disability category containing the currently used labels of severely learning disabled, educable mentally handicapped, and mildly mentally handicapped.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - a term referring to a federal mandate that students with special education needs are offered programs to promote maximum interaction with regular education students as close to home as possible. The LRE is an educational setting or program that provides a student with disabilities with the chance to work and learn to the best of his or her ability; it also provides the student as much contact as possible with children without disabilities, while meeting all of the child’s learning needs and physical requirements.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) - refers to students whose primary language is other than English; a student may be eligible for both bilingual and special education.

Low-Incidence Disability - a state defined disability that qualifies for certain extra funding; includes visual and/or hearing impairments.

Mainstreaming - a term referring to the time during which a special education student participates in chronologically age-appropriate regular education activities, either academic or non-academic (e.g. math and reading or lunch, recess, and art).

Mediation - an informal meeting held when parents and school district personnel cannot agree on a child’s educational program; this step comes before a due process hearing.

Medical Therapy Unit (MUT) – the unit providing assessment and remediation services by occupational therapists, physical therapists and adaptive physical education teachers to children who have fine and gross motor problems that are interfering with their educational progress.

Mildly Mentally Handicapped - see educable mentally handicapped.

Moderately Mentally Disabled – a disability; having a moderate delay in the ability to learn and to function independently in the everyday environment; a moderate delay is defined as a rate of development and learning 25% to 50% of what is expected of a child the same age.

Multidisciplinary - a team approach involving specialists in more than one discipline, such as a team made up of a physical therapist, a speech and language pathologist, a child development specialist, an occupational therapist, or other specialists as needed.

Multiply Handicapped (MH) - a disability; having two or more disabilities.

Non-Public School (NPS) - private placement of a child whose needs cannot be served by the special education programs offered within the school district.

Occupational Therapy – a therapy or treatment provided by an occupational therapist that helps individual development of physical skills that will aid in daily living; it focuses on sensory integration, on balance and coordination of movement, and on fine motor and self-help skills, such as dressing, eating with a fork and spoon, etc. Given when assessment shows that motor and perceptual difficulties interfere with classroom performance.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) - a related service; a child with visual impairments is trained to know where his or her body is in space and to move through space.

Orthopedically Handicapped (OH) - a disability; a disability involving the neuromuscular skeletal system that affects the ability to move, as in paralysis or cerebral palsy.

Other Health Impaired (OHI) - a disability; having a chronic health problem which affects learning in school.

P.L. 94-142 - Education For All Handicapped Children Act which guarantees a free, appropriate education for children with exceptional needs.

Parent Counseling - a related service; parents receive help and support in understanding the special needs of their child.

Parent Training and Information Programs - programs that provide information to parents of children with special needs about acquiring services, working with schools and educators to ensure the most effective educational placement for their child, understanding the methods of testing and evaluating a child with special needs, and making informed decisions about their child’s special needs.

Parent Training – a related service; parents receive specific training in skills required to implement their child’s IEP as well as an understanding of special education law and parental rights and responsibilities under these laws.

Perceptual Motor Skills – the ability to perceive a situation, evaluate it and make a judgment on what action to take (e.g. copying shapes or crossing a street).

Physical Therapy – treatment of (physical) disabilities given by a trained physical therapist (under doctor’s orders) that includes the use of massage, exercise, etc. to remediate mobility and gait and to modify strength, balance, tone, and posture and help the person improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves. Given when assessment shows a discrepancy between gross motor performance and other educational skills.

Placement – the classroom, program, service, and/or therapy that is selected for a student with special needs. Placement occurs after the IEP is written.

Policy-Policies - rules and regulations; as related to early intervention and special education programs, the rules that a state or local school system has for providing services for and educating its students with special needs.

Pre-School – refers to classrooms which serve three to five-year-old children. Private Agency - a non-public agency which may be receiving public funds to provide services for some children.

Private Therapist - any professional (therapist, tutor, psychologist, etc.) not connected with the public school system or with a public agency.

Program(s) – in special education, a service, placement, and/or therapy designed to help a child with special needs.

Psychological Services - a related service; includes psychological testing and psychological counseling for children and parents.

Psychologist - a specialist in the field of psychology, usually having a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in psychology.

Public Agency - an agency, office, or organization that is supported by public funds and serves the community at large.

Public Law (P.L.) 94-142 – a law passed in 1975 requiring that public schools provide a "free appropriate public education" to school-aged children ages 3-21; and provides funds for states and territories to plan a comprehensive service system for infants and toddlers (ages birth through 2 years) with disabilities.

Referral – the request to identify and assess a child’s special education needs; a referral may be made by a parent, teacher, medical personnel, or anyone with specific knowledge of the child.

Related Services - transportation and developmental, corrective, and other support services that a child with disabilities requires in order to benefit from education; examples of related services include: speech pathology and audiology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, counseling services, interpreters for the hearing impaired, and medical services for diagnostic and evaluation purposes.

Resource Room - a classroom in which a student may receive resource specialist instruction.

Resource Specialist Program (RSP) - students receiving special education instruction for less than 50% of the school day are enrolled in the RSP; these students can be "pulled out" of the regular education classroom for special assistance during specific periods of the day or week and are taught by credentialed resource specialists;

Reverse Mainstreaming - when non-disabled children go to the special education classroom to play and learn with children who are disabled.

Self-Help Skills - see activities of daily living.

Seriously Emotionally Disturbed (SED) - a disability; having a behavior problem which prevents learning and/or getting along with other people; the behavior must have continued for at least six months and be severe.

Service Coordinator - someone who acts as a coordinator of an infant’s or toddler’s services, working in partnership with the family and providers of special programs; service coordinators may be employed by the early intervention agency.

Services/Service Delivery - the services (therapies, instruction, treatment) given to a child with special needs.

Severe Disorder of Language (SDL) - a disability; having extreme difficulty acquiring, understanding or using language.

Severely Handicapped (SH) - a disability category containing the currently used labels of trainable mentally handicapped, severely/profoundly handicapped, severely emotionally disturbed, autistic, and multihandicapped.

Severely/Profoundly Handicapped (SPH) – a disability; having a very sever delay in the ability to learn and to function independently in the everyday environment; a severe delay is defined as a rate of development and learning that is below 25% of what is expected of a person the same age.

Special Day Class (SDC) - a self-contained classroom in which only students who require special education instruction for more than 50% of the school day are enrolled.

Special Education (sped) – instruction or education that is required to meet the needs of children with special needs that cannot be supplied through some modification in the regular education program.

Special Education Coordinator - the person in charge of special education programs at the school, district, or state level.

Special Education Intake Unit (SEIU) - the intake center within the Special Education Department which processes the referrals and conducts the assessments of children referred for special education services.

Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) - the county office from which some special education services are funded.

Special Education Programs/Services - program, services, or specially designed instruction (offered at no cost to families) for children over 3 years old with special needs who are found eligible for such services; these include special learning methods or materials in the regular classroom, and special classes and programs if the learning or physical problems indicate this type of program.

Special Needs – (as in "special needs" child) – a term to describe a child who has disabilities or who is at risk of developing disabilities and who, therefore, requires special services or treatment in order to progress, or who require special adaptations made to their instruction or environment in order to learn.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD) - a disability; a chronic condition that selectively interferes with the development, integration, and/or demonstration of verbal and/or nonverbal abilities.

Speech Therapy – a related service - helps children learn to speak and use language; speech therapy is given by a speech pathologist or a speech and language therapist.

Speech/Language Pathology - a planned program to improve and/or correct communication problems.

Student Study Team (SST) - a regular education process designed to make preliminary modifications within the regular education program of a student not succeeding in class.

Timeline – time limit. Trainably Mentally Handicapped (TMH) – see moderately mentally handicapped.

Transdisciplinary Team - an approach to education in which a number of professionals from different fields work together and teach each other when they are working with a child with disabilities.

Transition - a time in a child’s life when he or she moves from one educational program to another (e.g. from an infant program to preschool or from school to work).

Travel Training – training to enable a student to be independent on public transportation.

Vision Services -a related service; instruction that helps children with visual impairments maximize their visual abilities.

Visual Motor Skills - the ability to adjust movement based on what is seen - includes eye-hand coordination (activities such as cutting and handwriting) as well as gross motor skills (like kicking and throwing).

Visually Handicapped/Visually Disabled/Visually Impaired (VH) - a disability; a vision loss affecting the ability to learn in school.

Vocational Education (voc ed) - education beginning a middle school through age 21, in which special education students participate in an adequately and appropriately supported work model that will include off-site job training, travel training, stranger training, social interaction, time management and communication skills.

Adapted from "Dictionary of Special Education Terms" and "Parent’s Dictionary of Terms Used in Special Education"