Learning the lingo

worried-womanthmOne of the most challenging aspects about having a baby or child who needs early intervention or special education services is understanding all of the terms that you hear. This blog post is dedicated to helping you learn the lingo of developmental delays, disabilities, early intervention and special education.

Unless you know the language, you will not know what is going on. At the very least, you need to know the acronyms or abbreviations for some of the more common words or terms, so that if you are at a meeting, or in a doctor’s office, you can understand the conversation. It will also help you to make sense out of the reports and evaluations you will read about your child. So, here is your official cheat sheet. I suggest you print it out and keep it handy.

First, I list common terms in the early intervention and special education world; then, I list acronyms and abbreviations for common diagnoses. Any term in bold is explained in more detail in another blog post in this series. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list but it will definitely get you started.

Common terms:

ABA      Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy
ADA      Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
ADLs     Activities of Daily Living
ASL       American Sign Language
AIT       Auditory Integration Training
AT        Assistive Technology
BOE      Board of Education
BRS       Bureau of Rehabilitation Services
CA        Chronological Age
DOB      Date of Birth
DOE      Department of Education
ECE       Early Childhood Education
EIS        Early Intervention Services
ESD       Extended School Day
ESY       Extended School Year Services
FAPE    Free and Appropriate Public Education
FERPA   Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
GE         General Education
IDEA     Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEE        Individual Educational Evaluation
IEP        Individualized Educational Program
IQ          Intelligence Quotient
IFSP      Individual Family Service Plan
LEA       Local Education Agency
LRE       Least Restrictive Environment
MA        Mental Age
NCLB    No Child Left Behind Act
OCR      Office of Civil Rights
OT        Occupational Therapy
PLP      Present Level of Performance
PPT      Planning and Placement Team
PT        Physical Therapy
RS        Related Services
RTI       Response to Intervention
SAS      Supplementary Aids and Services
SEA      State Education Agency
SPED   Special Education
SI         Sensory Integration
SLP      Speech and Language Pathologist
SSDI     Social Security Disability Income
SSI       Supplemental Security Income
VR       Vocational Rehabilitation
WIC     Women, Infants and Children (food program)
504      Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504

Common diagnoses:

ADD      Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ASD      Autism Spectrum Disorder
BD        Behavioral Disorder
CAPD    Central Auditory Processing Disorder/Deficit
CF        Cystic Fibrosis
CP        Cerebral Palsy
DB        Deaf-Blind
ED        Emotional Disturbance
FAS      Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
DD        Developmental Delay
ID         Intellectual Disabilities (formerly Mental Retardation)
LD        Learning Disability
MD       Muscular Dystrophy
MMR     Mildly Mentally Retarded
MR       Mental retardation (now referred to as Intellectual Disability)
ND       Neurobiological disorders
NLD     Nonverbal Learning Disability
OCD     Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
ODD     Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OHI      Other Health Impaired
PDD      Pervasive Developmental Disorder
SB        Spina Bifida
SLD      Specific Learning Disability
SLI       Speech/Language Impairment
TBI       Traumatic Brain Injury
TMH     Trainable Mentally Handicapped
TS        Tourette Syndrome
VI         Visual Impairment

There are tons more acronyms, so if you have heard some that are not on this list check out this list of acronyms from NICHCY on the CPIR website. The more you understand the language, the more confident you will feel as you advocate for your child. Don’t be put off by the lingo – embrace it and soon you will be a pro.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and Disabilities – How to get help for your child.  As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Updated November 2015.

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