Key Special Education and Disability-Related Terms
Ability Awareness: Positive portrayal of people with disabilities that emphasizes abilities rather than disabilities; similarities rather than differences.
Accessibility: Architectural and environmental criteria that involves the modification of buildings, curbs and other structures to allow unrestricted movement by persons with limited mobility.
Accommodations: Techniques and materials that allow individuals with disabilities to complete school or work tasks with greater ease and effectiveness. Examples: tape recorders, spell checkers, expanded time.
Acoustic: Pertaining to the perception of sound.
Activities of Daily Living (ADL): Basic tasks of everyday life, such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring.
Adaptations and Modifications: Changes made in the general classroom curriculum and learning environment that allow each child to actively participate at his or her own level and meet his or her individual goals.
Adaptive Behavior: Ability to function in non-academic skills areas (self-help, social, etc.)
Adaptive Equipment: Equipment that allows a child to access educational opportunities (slant board, pencil grasps)
Adaptive Foot Orthotic (AFO): Brace- or splint-like objects that help correct or prevent deformities.
Adaptive Physical Education (APE): Specialized instruction and support to the physical education staff in a general education setting. Support is provided through adaptations and modifications to the physical education curriculum to enhance a student’s ability to participate in individual and group games, activities and sports.
Administrative Review: An informal hearing conducted by the superintendent or someone designated by him where parents are given an opportunity to ask questions and provide information related to an area of disagreement.
Advocacy: Intervention on behalf of another, with permission, when the other person is unable to act optimally in his or her own behalf. Under the Developmental Disabilities Act, advocacy is a system, independent of service providers, to protect persons through the use of legal, administrative and other remedies.
Affective: Having to do with emotions, feelings or attitudes.
Age Appropriate: Achievement consistent with a child’s developmental level and chronological age.
Alternate Assessment: Form of state assessment for students with moderate to more severe cognitive disabilities.
Alternative Assessment: Any form of measuring what students know and are able to do other than traditional tests; may include portfolios, performance-based assessments and other means of testing students.
Alternative Intervention Strategies: Modifications made to accommodate individual student needs in the regular classroom prior to any special education intervention.
Ambulatory: Ability to walk or move about independently.
American Sign Language (ASL): A method of communicating by using hand signs. Each sign represents either one word or a concept that is typically expressed with several spoken words. For words that do not have a sign, finger spelling is used.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): Extends to individuals with disabilities civil rights protections similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin and religion; guarantees equal opportunity in employment, public accommodation, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.
Amplification Device: Any device that increases the volume of sound.
Anecdotal Record: A written account of a child’s behavior; an objective narrative description.
Annual Goals: Broad statements of expected educational accomplishments to be completed within one year (see also IEP).
Anxiety Disorders: Disorders that cause intense feelings of anxiety and tension when there is no real danger; symptoms cause significant distress and interfere with daily activities.
Aphasia: The defect or loss of ability to understand, manipulate or express ideas with language.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): A systematic process based on a series of observations for identifying the purpose of behaviors and their communicative intent.
Applied Technology Services: Provides secondary students with academic coursework and training in technical programs (such as applied health, carpentry, electrical trades, food preparations and service, hospitality, plumbing and more). Career exploration and job readiness are part of the curriculum.
Apraxia: Difficulty making or planning movements when desired.
Articulation: The product of distinct language sounds by the vocal cords.
Asperger Syndrome: Mild form of autism characterized by difficulty understanding and responding to social situations; and some repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities.
Assessment: The process of testing and observing the child in order to understand the nature, personality, learning style and areas of strengths and needs of the child to help make decisions about the kind of educational programming required. (See also Diagnostic and Evaluation)
Assistive Technology: Includes services and devices that promote, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities (e.g. enlarged keyboards, Brailled reading material).
Ataxic: Pertains to the loss or lack of muscular coordination.
At-risk Students: Identified as academically and/or economically disadvantaged and may have health, social and family problems that impair their ability to succeed in school.
Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD): Biological disorders characterized by a short attention span, distractibility and impulsivity. If accompanied by hyperactivity, disorder is referred to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Attention Span: Ability to concentrate over a length of time.
Audiology: Includes not only testing to determine the nature of the loss and usable range of hearing, but also considerations for language developing greater use and knowledge of language habilitation, speech reading, counseling and guidance of students, parents and teachers about specific needs and the determination of a child’s need for appropriate aids.
Auditory Comprehension: Understanding of what is heard.
Auditory Discrimination: Ability to distinguish subtle difference between similar sounds.
Auditory Integration Training: An experimental procedure for reducing painful hypersensitivity to sound that has been beneficial for some people with autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Auditory Memory: Ability to remember what is heard.
Auditory Perceptual Disabilities: Difficulty distinguishing between the subtle differences in sounds; trouble picking out sounds from the rest of the background (auditory figure ground); or may not be able to process what is heard as fast as most people can (auditory lag).
Auditory Processing: Ability to take information that is heard and understand it.
Auditory Training: Therapy for individuals who are oversensitive or hypersensitive to sound that involves listening to a variety of different sound frequencies coordinated to their level of impairment.
Augmentative Communication: Any device that allows someone to communicate that goes beyond our typical modes.
Autism: Developmental disability that appears during infancy or childhood and is behaviorally defined to include disturbances in: developmental rates; responses to sensory stimuli; speech, language and cognitive capacities; and capacities to relate to people, events and objects.
Autism spectrum disorder: Refers to a broad definition of autism that includes the classical form of the disorder as well as closely related disabilities that share many of the core characteristics of impairment in communication skills, social interactions, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior: Pervasive Developmental Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Rett syndrome, Asperger syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
Balanced literacy: Generally, an approach to reading that incorporates both whole language and phonics instruction.
Barrier Free: Building, facility or area that is completely accessible to persons having mobility problems.
Baseline: Performance level before intervention or training.
Basic skills: Skills in subjects like reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics.
Behavioral Correlates: Characteristics that might be observed in a student who has deficits in the areas of reading skill, reading comprehension, written expression, mathematics calculation, mathematics reasoning listening comprehension or oral expression.
Behavior Disorder/Emotionally Disturbed: Educational disability characterized by problems in behavior that extends over a period of time and to a level that is not typical for students of that age, along with difficulties in learning that cannot be explained by cultural, intellectual, sensory or other health factors. Problem behaviors may be found in areas such as difficulties in building and maintaining relationships with others, a general overall mood of unhappiness or depression, and a tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or fears associated with personal or social problems.
Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP): The positive strategies, programs or curricular modifications in addition to the supplementary aids and supports required to address the behaviors of concern.
Bipolar Disorder: Serious mood disorder that involves extreme mood swings of highs (mania) and lows (depression); sometimes called manic-depressive psychosis.
Blind/Visually Impaired: The terms partially sighted, low vision, legally blind and totally blind used to describe students who even with correction are affected adversely in their educational performance.
Career Training Program: A Special School District full-day, community-based work program for students ages 17-21 to gain skills to find and keep a job.
Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act of 1990: Provides federal funding for vocational education and imposes requirements for making vocational education programs accessible to all students.
Case Manager: Service coordinator for families through Missouri Department of Mental Health; also IEP chairperson at SSD
Center for Independent Living: A non-profit organization that promotes activities and provides services that enable people with disabilities to lead independent, self-directed lives to as great an extent as possible.
Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD): A condition in which there is an inability to differentiate, recognize or understand sounds while both the hearing and intelligence are normal.
Cerebral Palsy (CP): A group of conditions due to brain damage usually occurring before or during birth or during the developmental years and can cause paralysis, speech difficulties, weakness, lack of coordination, learning problems, developmental disabilities, etc.
Child Complaint: Complaint filed with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education if a person or organization believes a responsible public agency has violated a state or federal regulation implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Child Find: Local districts must identify, locate and evaluate all children residing in the district with disabilities that need special education and related services.
Childhood Depression: Mood disorder among children. Children may appear persistently sad, no longer enjoy activities, appear agitated, hyper or irritable, complain of physical problems, and appear bored or low in energy.
Children With Disabilities: Those children who through an educational evaluation meet the state requirements as having mental retardation, hearing disabilities including deafness, visual disabilities including blindness, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic disabilities, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health disabilities, specific learning disabilities, and who because of those disabilities need special education and related services.
Circle of Friends: A group of students who agree to meet on a regular basis to help a student with a disability develop relationships and friendships.
Class Within A Class: See Collaborative Learning.
Cochlea: The spiral-shaped structure of the inner ear containing the end organs of the auditory nerve.
Cognition: The act or process of knowing. Cognitive skills include reasoning, concept formation, and analytical or logical thinking.
Collaboration: A process in which the special and general education teachers plan and work together to help students be successful in the regular classroom.
Collaborative Learning: A service delivery model in which identified students with disabilities are served in the regular classroom by the special education teacher who plans, works and teaches collaboratively with the regular education teacher.
Collaborative Teaming: Parents, school staff, students and others working together to plan an individual student’s support needs and assuming responsibility cooperatively for instruction, making accommodations or adaptations, and evaluation of the student’s progress.
Community-Based Instruction: Instruction that takes place outside of the classroom; where IEP goals are met in a natural, age-appropriate setting.
Community-Based Program: Provides job exploration through volunteer work training as well as functional instruction for students with disabilities ages 17 to 20.
Communication Board/Book: A book or board of photographs, pictures, line drawings, words or any combination to which a person might point in order to communicate. Comprehensive System of Personnel Development
Communicative Intent: Refers to the purpose of function of a message.
Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD): A State or school plan to train and provide technical assistance for school staff and parents.
Compliance Plan: Plan submitted to the state department of elementary and secondary education by public education school districts that outlines the ways the district will meet the mandates of P.L. 94-142 in providing a free and appropriate education for all students with disabilities. It must be submitted and approved before a district may receive federal funding to help provide the outlined services.
Compulsion: A persistent, repetitive act that the individual cannot consciously control.
Conduct Disorder: Persistent pattern of verbal and physical aggression that involves violation of the rights of others.
Confidentiality/Access Rights: Parent/students’ rights regarding information collected and maintained by school districts. Refers to the care that a person other than the student’s parent must take in not giving out information about a specific student to someone who is not directly involved with the student.
Congenital: Existing at birth.
Consent: Refers to being fully informed and agreeing to proposed plan of educational evaluation and/or placement. Parental consent in education has three parts: the parent is fully informed, the parent agrees in writing, and consent is given voluntarily.
Consultative Services: A special education teacher consults with a regular education teacher relative to a student’s progress.
Continuum: Used to describe a full range.
Cooperative Occupational Education: A state approved program in which students can begin a supervised work experience program while still enrolled in high school. Students are paid by the employer and also receive high school credit.
Cooperative Learning: Brings students of various achievement and intellectual levels together in a positive way to assist one another with various learning tasks, while at the same time allows each student to work at his or her own individual level and pace.
Co-Teaching/Collaborative Teaming: A means of bringing the strengths of two teachers with varied expertise together to enhance and increase instructional options for all students.
Cross Categorical: A service delivery model characterized by grouping of students for instructional purposes on the basis of similar functional needs; the model focuses on the teaching and learning needs common to various categories and not the students' special education diagnosis.
Crossing the Midline: Refers to skill and performance in crossing the vertical midline of the body.
Curriculum: A program of study. A planned appropriate course of study based on student’s ability to achieve. Curriculum is the body of knowledge that is taught.
Data-Based Decision Making: Decisions based on systematically-collected data to help create the ideal learning conditions for students and to assist in planning, decision making, and reporting activities.
Deaf: A hearing loss so severe that it inhibits language processing and affects educational performance.
Deaf/Blind: Disability classification in which visual and hearing impairment occur together.
Decoding: Ability to arrange sounds or symbols into ideas.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE): Agency responsible for education in Missouri.
Depression: Mood disorder that involves disturbances in emotion, cognition and body function; symptoms extend into many parts of an individual's life.
Developmental: Successive changes during that process of natural growth.
Developmental Apraxia of Speech: A severe speech disorder characterized by inability to speak, or a severe struggle to speak clearly. Apraxia of speech occurs when the oral- motor muscles do not or cannot obey commands from the brain, or when the brain cannot reliably send those commands.
Developmental Disability: A disability attributed to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or other neurological disabling conditions. Such disability originates before age 18, continues, or can be expected to continue, indefinitely, and constitutes a substantial disability for such individual.
Diagnostic Conference: A meeting of individuals who have significant information to contribute about a student’s functioning; purpose of the meeting is to identify the student’s strengths and needs and to determine the presence of a disability using approved eligibility criteria. (See also Assessment and Evaluation)
Diagnostic Tests: Tests that diagnose or identify areas of needs and strengths. There are diagnostic achievement tests that are used for skill subjects like reading, math and spelling.
Differentiated Instruction: A process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is, and assisting in the learning process.
Dignity of Risk: Refers to the right of people with disabilities to fully participate and learn from consequences.
Discrepancy Formula: Used by the state to determine the existence of an educational disability based on a significant difference between achievement and intellectual ability
Down Syndrome: The most common and readily identifiable chromosomal condition associated with mental retardation.
Due Process: Procedures to safeguard the rights of parents, children and educational agencies in the education process. Parents have specific due process rights, including the right to be notified and give consent, and the right to a due process hearing when an agreement cannot be reached between the parent and the school.
Due Process Hearing: More formal than an administrative review, this hearing is conducted by a three-person panel that will render findings and recommendations to you and to the Special School District Board of Education.
Dyscalculia: Severe difficulty in understanding and using symbols or functions needed for success in mathematics.
Dysfluency: Professional term for stuttering.
Dysgraphia: Severe difficulty in producing handwriting that is legible and written at an age-appropriate speed.
Dyslexia: Describes a condition in individuals who may exhibit: severe difficulty in learning and remembering the printed word, reversals of letters or improper letter sequencing, bizarre spelling errors, illegible handwriting or poorly written composition.
Dysnomia: Marked difficulty in remembering names or recalling words needed for oral or written language.
Dyspraxia: Severe difficulty in performing drawing, writing, buttoning and other tasks requiring fine motor skill, or in sequencing the necessary movements.
Early Childhood Special Education: Programs designed for children who are diagnosed as disabled and are 3 years old and within two years of eligibility for kindergarten.
Early Intervention: Programs and services provided to infants and children with disabilities during the period of most rapid growth and development (the years from birth to 5).
Echolalia: A pattern of responding to questions or comments by repeating what was heard or the last part of it.
Educational Psychologist: Administers and interprets psychological tests, interprets behavior and consults with parents around educational issues.
Effective Practice Specialist (EPS): SSD countywide staff with specialized expertise in technical areas such as OT/PT/APE, speech/language, transition, social-emotional and diagnostics.
Emotional Disorder/Emotional Disturbance: Defined under IDEA as a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance: (a) an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors, (b) an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers, (c) inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances, (d) a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression, (e) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
Encode: Ability to change ideas into words or written expression.
English as a Second Language (ESL)/English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL): English language training for individuals whose first language is not English
Epilepsy: Disorder of the central nervous system marked by sudden and periodic lapses of consciousness, and distinctive, usually measurable disturbances in the electrical discharges within the brain.
Evaluation: The implementation of the assessment procedures as specified in the individual evaluation plan and notice for evaluation; determination of a student’s current level of functioning. An evaluation consists of a variety of tests, observations and background information and is done by a team. (See also Assessment and Diagnostic)
EXCEL Program: Language-based program for students ages 12 to 16 that consists of functional academics and job exploration.
Exceptional: In education, a word used to describe a child whose abilities or intelligence are unusually high or low.
Expressive Language: Speaking, gesturing or writing skills for communication with other people.
Expressive Vocabulary: The collection of words a person uses when speaking.
Extended School Year (ESY): Education provided for students with disabilities beyond the minimum days required; summer school.
Extension: Action of straightening the neck, back, arms and legs.
Eye/Motor Coordination: The ability to relate vision with movements of parts of the body.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): A federal law that establishes guidelines for handling personally identifiable information for all students and allows parents to access their minor children’s educational records.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAS/FAE): Conditions that affects the children of mothers who consume quantities of alcohol during pregnancy; can involve cognitive delays, attentional difficulties and physical and emotional disability.
Fine Motor Skills: Pertains to usage of small muscles, such as finger and wrist movements and eye-hand coordination (drawing, cutting, writing, buttoning, etc.).
First Steps: Missouri’s early intervention program for children with disabilities birth to age 3. First Steps is designed to help families improve their child’s development, learning and participation in family and community life.
Flexion: The act of bending or pulling in a part of the body.
FM System: An electronic device that helps children who are hearing-impaired or distractible to focus on the teacher's voice. Consists of lapel-sized microphone clipped to the teacher's collard, which is wired to a small transistor-sized box worn on a belt. The child receives the teacher's voice through a loop, headphones or attachment to a hearing aid, which is also wired to a similar box worn on a belt.
Fragile X Syndrome: A defect of the X chromosome. Fragile X is one of the more common genetic causes of mental retardation; especially in males.
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and meet the standards of the state educational agencies.
Functional Behavioral Assessment: A process for gathering broad and specific information about a student's behavior in order to identify the function or purpose that the behavior serves.
Functional Skills: Uses real-life experiences to plan a curriculum that meets the student's present and future needs.
Futures Planning: Planning process used most often for young adults and adults with disabilities that focuses on developing and maintaining opportunity for their presence and participation in the home, at work and in the general community.
Gait Pattern: Description of walking pattern.
Gateway Regional Advisory Council (RAC): One of 11 regional advisory councils throughout Missouri funded by the Missouri Planning Council to advocate for quality improvement in access, the delivery system, and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to enhance the quality of life.
G Documents: Documents in the Missouri State Plan for IDEA that outline the criteria for identifying each of the 16 disability categories under IDEA.
Generalization: Ability to apply a skill or behavior learned in one setting to another setting, or to apply a learned skill or behavior in similar situations.
Governing Council: An oversight board for SSD made up of a Board of Education member from each of the 22 partner school districts in St. Louis County.
Gross Motor Skills: Pertains to usage of large muscles (balance, jumping, running).
Guardianship: A legal status that provides protection, care and management of a person considered incapable of managing his or her own affairs.
Hand-Eye Coordination: The ability to combine and coordinate the function of the eyes and hands to use the hands for manipulative activities.
Hearing Disorders: Any type or degree of hearing loss that causes an educational problem; includes deaf and hard of hearing.
Homebound Services: Instruction provided in a student’s home, a hospital setting or other site of confinement because the student is physically or emotionally unable to receive instruction at the school.
Hyperactivity: Behavior condition characterized by easy distractibility, impulsiveness and attention-demanding behaviors.
Hyperlexia: Syndrome with a constellation of symptoms that include precocious reading skills accompanied by significant problems in language, learning and social skills.
Hypertonicity: Increased muscle tone.
Hypotonicity: Decreased muscle tone.
Identification: Process of locating and identifying children who need special education services.
Inclusion/Inclusive Education: Educating all students in age-appropriate general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools, with the appropriate support.
Inclusion/Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Facilitators: Individuals who are a direct resource and provide consultation and training services to staff to support students who are being included in general education classes.
Independent Education Evaluation: If a parent or guardian disagrees with any or all of an SSD evaluation they my request an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense. The district does have the option of requesting a due process hearing to “defend” its diagnostic decision instead of granting the IEE.
Independent Living Centers: Centers funded to provide training and assistance to adults with disabilities.
Independent Living Skills: Appropriate behavior necessary for living in a non-institutional setting. Skills include arranging transportation, maintenance of clothes and living quarters, personal hygiene, money handling, group living and recreation.
Individual Accommodation Plan: Also known as 504 Plan
Individualized Education Program (IEP): A plan developed annually as required by law for students identified to have educational disabilities. Plan includes present level of performance, long-term goals and short-term objectives, criteria for measuring achievement, amount and type of special education and participation in general education, dates of initiation and duration of services.
Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): Written plan developed by a multidisciplinary team that includes the family; based on family concerns, priorities, resources, and the child's present level of functioning.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The revision and amendment of the Education of the Handicapped Act of 1975. Comprehensive law supports a free appropriate public education, which includes special education and related services, for children and youth with disabilities.
Industry-Based Program: Provides work maturity skill training through paid employment in a not-for-profit setting.
Informal Resolution Conference: Optional step in due process used to resolve disagreements between parents and schools about the special education of a student with a disability.
Integration Disabilities: Difficulty putting together or processing the information that has come in through the senses. Three parts: sequencing, abstraction and organization.
Intellectual Disability (ID): A group of conditions that refers to an individual’s level of intellectual functioning, as well as social adjustment and adaptive abilities, which are significantly delayed compared to age level peers.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ): A score, based on one’s chronological age and performance on a test designed to measure mental ability, used to predict school success.
Itinerant Teacher: A special education teacher who usually travels between schools and works with students with disabilities enrolled in regular education classrooms.
Job Coaching: The process of providing training to the new employees at the job site.
Kinesthesis: Sensation of movement arising from muscles, joints and inner ears.
Language Disorder: Reduced ability to comprehend or express ideas through spoken, written or gestured language; disorders of form, content and/or function of language.
Lateralization: The tendency for certain processes to be handled more efficiently on one side of the brain than the other.
Learning Disabilities (LD): An educational disability classification characterized by a disorder in one or more of the basic processes involved in the understanding or use of language, spoken or written, which may cause an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Historically the term includes perceptual disorder, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disability is a chronic condition of presumed neurological origin that selectively interferes with the development, integration and/or demonstration of verbal and/or nonverbal abilities.
Learning Modalities: Approaches to assessment or instruction stressing the auditory, visual or tactile avenues that provide the best opportunity for students to learn and/or demonstrate knowledge.
Learning Strategies: Techniques taught by special education teachers that enable a learner to solve problems and complete tasks independently. Students receive credit for these classes in some school districts.
Learning Styles: Approaches to assessment or instruction emphasizing the variations in temperament, attitude and preferred manner of tackling a task. Typically considered are styles along the active/passive, reflective/impulsive or verbal/spatial dimensions.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Provision of Public Law 94-142 (IDEA) that states that children with disabilities must be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.
Legally Blind: Less than a corrected vision of 20/200 in the better eye or visual field contraction of 20 degrees or less.
Long-Term Suspension: A suspension or removal of more than ten school days in a row. Separate suspensions totaling over 10 days that create a “pattern of suspensions” are also considered a long-term suspension. A long-term suspension is considered a change in placement.
Lovaas Method: Also referred to as discrete trial training under the philosophy of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Intense, one-on-one instruction applied to young children for 20-to-50 hours a week over potentially a 1-to-3-year period by specially trained persons and parents. Each "trial" presents a task, behavior, or stimulus to the child, elicits a response from the child, then reinforces (rewards) the child for responding appropriately.
Low Incidence Disability: A disability that affects relatively few of the total number of students with disabilities who receive special education services.
Mainstreaming: Participation in a regular education program.
Mandible: Lower jaw.
Manifestation Determination: A meeting to decide whether a student's misconduct is caused by or related to the student's disability.
MAPS Process (McGill Action Planning System): Process a team uses to gain a collective vision of a child’s life. The responses to seven questions are applied to realize the vision in the included school setting.
Maxilla: Upper jaw.
Mediation: A meeting held when parents and school district personnel cannot agree on a child's educational program; this step comes before a due process hearing.
Medicaid: A federally funded program to provide medical care for low-income persons and additional support service to low-income persons with disabilities.
Medically Fragile: When the medical condition is such that the child may die. Often these children depend on equipment to keep them alive.
Mental Illness: A disorder of the brain that results in a disruption in a person's thinking, feeling, moods, and ability to relate to others.
Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) (MAP-A): Statewide testing program with subject-area assessments or alternate assessments.
Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities: Federally funded, consumer-driven council mandated to plan, advocate for, and give advice concerning programs and services for persons with developmental disabilities to increase their opportunities for independence, productivity, and integration into communities.
Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP): Has the responsibility of reviewing and accrediting the 524 school districts in the state within a 5-year review cycle.
Mobility Training: Techniques to assist individuals who are blind to move safely and independently with the community.
Modality: A way of acquiring sensation — visual (sight), auditory (hearing), tactile (touch), olfactory (hearing), gustatory (taste) and kinesthetic (movement).
Modeling: Teaching appropriate skills by having students observe and imitate others.
Modulation: Brain’s regulation of its own activity.
Morpheme: Refers to the smallest, meaningful unit of speech.
Motor Disabilities: Involves coordination of the large muscles (gross motor) and small muscles (fine motor).
MPACT: Missouri’s Parent Training and Information Center
Multidisciplinary Goals: Brings a number of different professionals together to the IEP to share information about the student in an effort to plan an appropriate educational program.
Multiple Intelligences: Howard Gardner theory proposes that humans possess seven different types of intelligence (visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal), spanning three domains (the physical, cognitive and affective domains). Related terms/concepts include: learning styles.
Multiply Disabled: Physical and/or sensory disability occurring along with other disabling conditions.
Multisensory Learning: Instructional approach that combines auditory, visual and tactile elements into a learning task.
Music Therapy: Uses a variety of music experiences as a method to relieve anxiety and/or develop social, receptive/expressive language, academic or physical development skills.
Natural Supports: An approach in both school programs and adult services that utilizes existing services and staff to operate a program as opposed to bringing in new or additional staff to operate the program.
Neurobiological Disorder: Refers to problems stemming from brain malfunction and malformations that can be proven and demonstrated.
Neurologist: Medical doctor who assesses for potential damage to the brain and may provide medication to assist in enhancing brain function.
Neurofibromatosis: Genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow along various types of nerves, and in addition, can affect the development of non-nervous tissues such as bones and skin. Can affect cognitive, hearing, vision, emotional and behavioral abilities.
Non-Aversive Behavior Techniques: Places an emphasis on understanding behavior and what it is communicating. Focuses on developing positive plans to address behavioral issues and teach behavioral skills rather than focusing on consequences as a means to change behavior.
Non-categorical: A service delivery model characterized by grouping of students with different types of disabilities for instructional purposes.
Nonverbal: Unable to communicate with the spoken word. Many people who are nonverbal communicate using sign language, communication boards and computers.
Nonverbal Learning Disorders: Impaired ability to organize the visual-spatial field, adapt to new or novel situations, and/or accurately read nonverbal signals and cues.
Norm-Referenced Tests: Tests that compare a student’s performance to the performance of other students when using the same measure.
Notice of Action/Consent: Written notification provided to parents/guardians regarding a district’s intent to evaluate, place or change placement and the parental/guardian written consent for such action.
Nystagmus: A series of automatic, back-and-forth eye movements.
Objectives: Small, measurable steps of learning that help a student reach a goal.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): An anxiety disorder where people experience recurring unwanted thoughts that are difficult to stop, and rituals of checking behavior or repetitive actions that are carried out in an attempt to relieve the thought.
Occupational Therapy (OT): Concerned with fine or small muscle movement, such as the use of hands and fingers, to help a person learn or re-learn how to perform daily tasks such as eating and work that requires hand and eye coordination.
Office for Civil Rights (OCR): The Office for Civil Rights enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): OSEP administers the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for the U.S. Department of Education.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): Disorder of childhood whereby the children defy rules, are angry and often lose their tempers beyond what is typical or acceptable.
Oral-Motor Skills: The ability to perform certain functions and movements with the tongue, lips, cheeks and other muscles of the mouth area.
Orientation and Mobility: 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.
Orthopedic Disabilities: A physical condition that affects mobility and development of motor skills.
Other Health Impairments: Having limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems (such as heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, asthma, attention deficit disorder, epilepsy, diabetes and others) that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Paraeducator/Paraprofessional: A person hired and trained by the school district who has the responsibility of assisting one or more professionals and assisting a particular student or group of students.
Paraplegia: Paralysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs.
Parent: Parent, guardian, person acting as a parent of a child or a surrogate parent who has been appointed by the court.
Parent Advisory Council (PAC): A standing committee or council of individuals interested in improving special education services in their district.
Parents as Teachers (PAT): An international early childhood parent education and family support program serving families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten.
Parent Training: Planned teaching for parents to help them interact with, teach and advocate for their child with a disability.
Parent-to-Parent Support: Parents of children with disabilities provide information and one-on-one support to other parents, especially of children who have been just diagnosed as disabled.
Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: The section of the federal special education regulations that address school-aged children.
Part C: The section that addresses early intervention services for ages birth to 3 (Missouri First Steps).
Partners in Policymaking: Advocacy training by Missouri Planning Council.
Perceptual-Motor Disorder: A sensory perception deficiency receiving, processing or responding to sensory information about the environment that causes problems with comprehension, memory and perceptual motor skills.
Performance-Based Assessment: Requires students to show their knowledge and skills in an active way; usually requires completion of a complex task, often involving creation of a product.
Perseveration: Continuing to behave or respond in a certain way when it is no longer appropriate. Difficulty in shifting from one task to another.
Personal Care Assistant: Provides services to children who need help with day-to-day activities to allow them be more independent.
Personal Futures Planning: A process for planning the transition from school to adult life or other significant changes in an individual’s life.
Person-Centered Planning: An assortment of strategies that are a values-based approach to life planning that focuses on a person’s choices, vision and support circle.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD): Disorder of the brain that affects communication ability, relating to others and learning of all kinds. When a child displays fewer than 8 of the 16 symptoms relating to the diagnosis of autism, he or she may be diagnosed with PDD.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS): Diagnosis where there is marked impairment of social interaction, communication, and/or stereotyped behavior patterns, but full features of autism or another explicitly defined PDD are not met.
Phenylketonuria (PKU): An inherited, metabolic disorder that can result in mental retardation and other neurological problems.
Phobias: Intense, persistent fear of specific things or situations that lead to avoidance of such things.
Phonics: An instructional strategy used to teach letter-sound relationships to beginning readers by having them "sound out" words.
Phonology: Refers to the subsystem of language that governs the structure, distribution and sequencing of sounds or phonemes.
Physical Therapy (PT): Activities for promoting self-sufficiency primarily related to gross motor skills such as walking, sitting and shifting position. Helps students with adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, prone standers and braces.
Physically Disabled: A medically diagnosed condition that causes educationally related problems and requires specific material modification, special adaptations, equipment, therapies and/or instruction.
Pivotal Response Treatment: Uses natural learning opportunities to target and modify key behaviors in children with autism.
Placement: Designation of the special education service delivery model through which a student will receive special education services, e.g. itinerant services, resource services, self-contained classroom in a general education school, self-contained classroom in a special education school, etc.
Positioning: Ways of placing an individual that will help normalize postural tone and facilitate normal patterns of movement; may involve the use of adaptive equipment.
Positive Behavior Support: Teaches the skills necessary to replace inappropriate behavior with acceptable ways of acting and reacting so the child can learn better ways to make his or her feelings and needs known to teachers or parents. It includes a functional assessment of the behavior, organizing the environment, teaching skills, rewarding positive behaviors, anticipating situations and monitoring the effect of interventions and redesigning as necessary.
Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS): A behaviorally based systems approach based on research regarding behavior in the context of the settings where it occurs. Schools, families and communities design effective environmental interventions to make problem behavior less effective, efficient and relevant and desired behavior more functional. The use of culturally appropriate interventions is emphasized.
Prader-Willi Syndrome: Features of the disorder include an obsession with food, compact body build, underdeveloped sexual characteristics, poor muscle tone and mild mental retardation.
Praxis: Ability of the brain to conceive of, organize and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions.
Prep Program: SSD transition program where students who require some degree of support work at volunteer sites with the goal of post-secondary employment.
Prereferral Process: Procedure in which a group of special and general education teachers, counselors, and/or administrators develop trial strategies to help a student showing difficulty in learning remain in the regular classroom.
Present Level Of Performance: Part of the IEP document stating the child’s current educational strengths and needs based on evaluation; provides the basis for the development of individual goals.
Prior Written Notice: Required written notice to parents when school proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child.
Problem-Solving Model: In this model, school psychologists, in collaboration with general and special educators, seek to resolve student difficulties within general education by applying evidence-based interventions and systematic monitoring of student progress. Screening and assessment emphasize skills rather than classifications.
Procedural Safeguards: The steps taken to insure that a person’s legal rights are not denied.
Prone: Horizontal body position with the face and stomach facing downward.
Prone Stander: A piece of adaptive equipment that assists a student in standing, by providing support on the chest.
Prompting: Instructional technique in which a cue (visual, auditory or physical) is presented to facilitate successful completion of a task or performance of a behavior.
Protection & Advocacy: System created by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act to protect the individual rights of persons with developmental disabilities.
Psychological Evaluation: The part of the student’s overall special education evaluation that tests general aptitudes and abilities, social skills, emotional development and thinking skills.
Psychomotor: Refers to muscle responses including development of fine-motor small muscles (cutting) and gross-motor large muscles (walking).
Public Agency: Includes state educational agencies, local educational agencies, intermediate educational units and any other political subdivisions of the state that are responsible for providing education to children with disabilities.
Public Law 94-142 (changed in 1990 to Individuals With Disabilities Education Act or IDEA): Ensures due process rights and mandates, among other things, a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for all children with disabilities, education in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and individualized education programs (IEPs).
Purchase Of Service: When the district is unable to meet a student’s individualized need, programming is offered through a private, state-approved agency.
Range Of Motion: The span of flexibility in each joint and muscle group that a person has.
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): An inability to form normal relationships with others, especially the caretaker, that begins before age 5 and requires marked pathogenic neglect in the first three years of life.
Receptive Language: Recognition and/or understanding of what is seen or heard.
Re-evaluation: Multidisciplinary assessment, required every three years for students with disabilities who receive special education services, to determine if special education and related services continue to be required in order for the student to benefit from their educational program.
Referral: A request for an evaluation, based on educational problems identified through the screening process, which includes information about the concerns and attempts to correct the concerns.
Regression-Recoupment: Loss of learned skills during the summer resulting in the need to relearn those skills at the start of the year.
Rehabilitation: The process of helping a person who has a disability learn or re-learn the skills needed for daily living and work activities.
Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Civil rights statute designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination with the purpose to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, inclusion and integration into society.
Regional Center: Responsible for determining that a person believed to have a developmental disability and/or mental retardation is eligible for state services and for assigning a case manager/service coordinator to guide the person through the service system.
Related Services: Developmental, corrective and supportive services provided by specialists that are not normally provided by regular and special education teachers such as speech therapy, audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and adapted physical education.
Remediation: Process by which an individual receives instruction and practice in skills that are weak or nonexistent in an effort to develop/strengthen the skills.
Residential Facility: A facility or residential program that provides housing and appropriate supervision for individuals requiring developmental or behavioral assistance on a 24-hour basis outside the individual’s home.
Resolution Conference: An informal conference conducted by the superintendent or someone designated by the superintendent where you and the district present, review, and explain pertinent information about your child. A decision is rendered within ten days of the receipt of your request for the conference.
Resource Classroom: A special education placement for students who are enrolled in general education classrooms for most of the school day; yet require special education instruction in specific areas. This resource room is designed to support academic instruction and facilitate integration with peers during the school day.
Respite Care: Providing temporary care for an individual with a disability and therefore relief to the family, thus enabling a family to care for a member with a disability in their own home.
Rett Syndrome: Progressive neurological disorder in females that causes the brain to lose what it has previously learned.
Ritalin: A drug that stimulates the nervous system so the student is better able to control impulses, activity or attention.
School Psychologist: Administers and interprets psychological and educational tests; assists with behavior management; provides counseling; consults with parents, staff and community agencies about educational issues.
Screening: A program for all children designed to identify suspected physical, sensory, behavioral/emotional, or other problems that may significantly interfere with a student’s educational success. Screening is required for vision, hearing, health/motor, cognitive (including adaptive behavior), academic (including readiness and prevocational/vocational), speech/language and social/emotional/behavioral.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Provides individuals with disabilities with basic civil rights protection against discrimination in federally funded programs including schools.
Self-Advocacy: The development of specific skills and understandings that enable children and adults to explain their specific learning disabilities to others and cope positively with the attitudes of peers, parents, teachers and employers.
Self-Contained Classroom: A special education placement where students receive the majority of their instruction from a special education teacher.
Self-Contained Building: A special education building where students receive their special education services in self-contained classrooms.
Self-Determination: Having control and voice in key personal decisions that affect an individual’s life.
Self-Injurious Behavior: Any behavior that can cause tissue damage such as head-banging, hand-biting and excessive scratching or rubbing.
Self-Stimulatory: Repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects that may provide sensory stimulation or a calming effect.
Self-Talk: Audible commentary by the student describing what he or she is doing, perceiving or feeling.
Semantics: The rules of language governing the meaning of words in sentences.
Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder: Problem understanding the meaning of what other people say, the ability to express intended meaning and how to use language appropriately in a social context.
Senate Bill 40 Board: Administers county property taxes for services for people with developmental disabilities (in St. Louis County, the Productive Living Board).
Sensory Input: The neural impulses that flow from the sense receptors in the body to the spinal cord and the brain.
Sensory Integration: The process by which the nervous system receives, organizes, files and integrates sensory information in order to make an appropriate response.
Sensory Integration Disorder (also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction): The inability to process information received through the senses, causing problems with learning, development, and behavior.
Sensory-Integrative Therapy: Training designed to assist the student to integrate and organize information obtained from the various senses (such as vision and hearing) in order to perform a complex response (like reading).
Sensory-Motor: Using the sensory perception (what one sees, hears, feels, tastes or smells) with movement.
Sequencing Disability: Difficulty organizing information into an order that makes sense.
Service Coordination: (also called Case Management). Process of coordinating all services to meet the needs of the child and family.
Severe Disabilities: Those disabilities that impact on a child’s performance to such an extent that there are significant limitations on their ability to perform.
Sheltered Workshop: A work setting that provides transitional and/or long-term employment in a controlled and protected working environment for those who are perceived to be unable either to compete or to function in the open job market due to their physical or developmental disabilities.
Short-term Suspension: A student can be removed from their regular school placement for up to 10 school days and more than once in a school year for separate incidents of misconduct. This would not be considered a change of placement.
Social Skills: The ability to exhibit behaviors that consistently produce satisfying reactions from others and the inhibition of responses that are likely to produce unpleasant reactions.
Social Stories: A strategy used to improve social behavior that presents short stories to teach socially appropriate behaviors.
Social Worker: A professional who works as a link between home, school and the community by providing direct interventions, consultation and advocacy regarding the special needs of students.
Sonant: A voiced sound.
Special Education: Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities.
Special Education Support Center: Provides an alternative educational program and/or GED training for students with disabilities who have dropped out of school.
Special Non-Public Access Program: Services offered to students in private/parochial schools who need special education programs.
Specific Language Disability: A severe difficulty in some aspect of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling, while skills in the other areas are age-appropriate.
Specific Learning Disability: The official term used in federal legislation to refer to difficulty in certain areas of learning, rather than in all areas of learning.
Speech Disorder: Difficulty with the mechanics of oral speech production observable in voice, articulation, fluency, or any combination.
Speech-Language Pathologist: The specialist who evaluates and provides treatment for speech, language and listening disorders.
Speech/Language Therapy: The process of correcting speech and/or language problems or working to improve a person’s ability to use speech or language.
Spina Bifida: A congenital disability caused by failure of the spine to close completely before birth. This can cause varying degrees of paralysis in the lower part of the body.
Splints: Adaptive devices that help prevent physical deformities or that aid a student in accessing educational environments.
Standard Deviation: A set, defined difference from the typical average score. Used to describe to what degree a student is performing above or below the average. A standard deviation of -2.0 or more signifies a deficit on a particular skill tested.
State Plan: A plan developed in each state that tells how federal requirements are to be met and how special education services are to be provided in that state in compliance to IDEA before receiving federal funding.
Stay Put: During the time a due process hearing is pending and until the due process is concluded, a student will remain in her or his current educational placement unless the parent/guardian and the school district agree otherwise.
Supine: Horizontal body position with the face and stomach facing upward.
Supine Board: A piece of adaptive equipment that assists a student in standing, by providing support on the back.
Supplemental Aids and Services: Aids, services and other supports that are provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.
Supported Employment: Paid, competitive employment of people with disabilities that occurs in community settings with ongoing support such as job coaching, psychosocial and other services.
Supported Living: A way of approaching services and housing that is centered on consumer choice, normal housing, flexible supports and community integration.
Surrogate Parent: A person assigned by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to substitute for the natural parents when a student’s parents are not known, are not available, or when the student is a ward of the state.
Suspensions: A temporary cessation of educational services.
Systemic Change: Large encompassing changes, where a system of any kind alters its policies and procedures.
System Point of Entry (SPOE): A singular contact point for referrals and intakes of children with developmental delays or at-risk of developmental delays.
Syntax: The grammatical structure of language.
Tactile Defensiveness: Overly sensitive to touch, often withdrawing when touched or avoiding certain textures of clothes, foods or objects.
Team Teaching: Two or more teachers, who sometimes have different areas of expertise, cooperatively teaching a class or unit.
Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD): An electronic device used for telephone communications by persons who are deaf or who have other hearing difficulties.
Theory of Mind: An inability to realize that other people have their own unique point of view about the world. Perceiving social situations only from one's own perspective and only as how it impacts oneself; not having the social skills to know what is real.
Title I (formerly Chapter I): Federally funded program that provides instruction in reading and/or math to poor and disadvantaged children with and without disabilities.
Tone: Firmness of muscles.
Total Communication: The combined use of sign language, speech and lip reading to communicate with persons who have a hearing disability.
Tourette Syndrome: Neurobiological disorder characterized by tics, which are involuntary, rapid, sudden movements and/or vocal outbursts that occur repeatedly.
Transportation: A related special education service for students with a disability who require special transportation to, from and between schools.
Transdisciplinary: Service delivery model that is jointly planned and implemented; child-centered rather than discipline-centered.
Transition Services: Refers to a coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force that results in total or partial functional learning disability or psychosocial disability, or both, and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Triennial Re-evaluation: Assessment required every three years to determine if a student still has a disability that requires special education services and if there is adequate information to provide an appropriate program. May or may not require formal testing.
Vestibular System: Sensory system that responds to the position of the head in relation to gravity and movement; integrated neck, eye and body adjustments to movement.
Vision Therapy: A process that helps a child with low vision develop residual vision, use low vision aids and enhance auditory skills.
Visual Discrimination: Using the eyes to identify differences in letters, words and/or pictures.
Visual Perceptual Disability: Having difficulty organizing the position and shape of what is seen. The child may: reverse or rotate letters, numbers, words or sentences when reading, writing or copying; have difficulty with figure-ground that may cause him to be unable to track or to skip around; or misjudge distance or depth or position in space.
Vocational Education: An educational program that provides training in daily living skills, occupational skills for paid or unpaid employment and/or career preparation for students in post-secondary programs.
Vocational Rehabilitation: A program of services designed to enable people with disabilities to become or remain employed.
Voluntary Mutism: Refusal to speak.
Whole Language Instruction: Where teachers and teams individualize instruction to match students’ needs, interests and learning styles; reading, writing, speaking and listening are not taught in isolated lessons but are viewed as interconnected and a part of every lesson.
Williams Syndrome: Genetic disorder characterized by mild mental retardation, developmental and language delays, problems in gross motor skills, hypersensitivity to sounds and pixie-like facial features.
Work Experience Center: Provides work adjustment training and develops independent living skills in a structured environment.