Whether or not you are attending a meeting with your child’s school, a therapy appointment, talking with teachers, meeting with the doctor, or reviewing reports when you are a parent of a child with exceptional needs you are bound to come across many terms and acronyms such as IEP, DD, and BIP just to name a few. If you are like most parents, all those terms and acronyms come across as a foreign language. If you find yourself drowning in special education acronyms and disability categories do not fret, check out the following to help you decode some of the common special education language and terms used.
Common Acronyms in Special Education and Disability
ADD/ADHD | Attention-Deficit/Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
APE | Adaptive Physical Education
ARD | Admission, Review, and Dismissal Committee
ASD | Autism Spectrum Disorders
AT | Assistive Technology
BIP | Behavioral Intervention Plan
DSM | Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association
ECE | Early Childhood Education
ECSE | Early Childhood Special Education
EIS | Early Intervening Services
ELL | English Language Learner
ESY or EYS | Extended School Year or Extended Year Services
FBA | Functional Behavioral Assessment
IEE | Individualized Educational Evaluation
IEP | Individualized Education Program
IFSP | Individualized Family Service Plan
ITP | Individualized Transition Plan
LD | Learning Disability
LEA | Local Education Agency
LEP | Limited English Proficiency
LRE | Least Restrictive Environment
MD or MH | Multiple Disabilities or Multiply Handicapped
NCLB | No Child Left Behind Act (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorized in 2015 as ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act)
OCD | Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
ODD | Oppositional Defiant Disorder
O & M | Orientation and Mobility Services
OT | Occupational Therapy
PDD | Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PT | Physical Therapy
RTI | Response to Intervention
SLP | Speech/Language Pathologist
SSDI | Social Security Disability Income
SSI | Supplemental Security Income
Disability Categories According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
IDEA is Federal legislation that outlines specified guidelines for the United States in relation to providing special education and related services to students with identified special education needs which include the right to free and appropriate education (FAPE). The following outlines the 14 disability categories according to IDEA.
1. Specific learning disability (SLD)
The umbrella term “SLD” covers a specific group of learning challenges. These particular conditions affect a child’s ability to read, write, listen, speak, reason, or do math. The following conditions fall into this category.
Auditory Processing Disorder
Non-Verbal Learning Disability
2. Other health impairment
The umbrella term “other health impairment” covers conditions that limit a child’s strength, energy, or alertness. Examples of other health impairment are ADHD, which impacts attention and executive function, asthma, and diabetes.
3. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
ASD is a developmental disability. ASD covers a wide range of symptoms, but it mainly affects three areas: social, communication, and behavior.
4. Emotional disturbance
A variety of mental health conditions can fall under the “emotional disturbance” category. Conditions include anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and depression.
5. Speech or language impairment
This category covers difficulties with speech and language. Difficulties can include stuttering, trouble pronouncing words, or making sounds with the voice. It also covers language problems that make it hard for kids to understand words or express themselves.
6. Visual impairment, including blindness
Visual impairment includes both partial sight and blindness.
Kids with a diagnosis of deafness fall under this category.
8. Hearing impairment
The term “hearing impairment” refers to a hearing loss not covered by the definition of deafness. This type of loss can change over time. Being hard of hearing is not the same thing as having trouble with auditory or language processing.
Kids with a diagnosis of deaf-blindness have both severe hearing and vision loss.
10. Orthopedic impairment
An orthopedic impairment is when kids lack function or ability in their bodies, an example of this is cerebral palsy.
11. Intellectual disability
Persons with this type of disability have below-average intellectual ability. They may also have poor communication, self-care, and social skills and may learn new skills at a slower pace Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder are examples of intellectual disability.
12. Traumatic brain injury
This is a brain injury caused by an accident or some kind of physical force.
13. Multiple disabilities
A child with multiple disabilities has more than one condition covered by IDEA.
14. Developmental Delay
The term developmental delay, as defined by each State, means a 25% or more delay in one or more of the following areas: physical development; cognitive development; communication; social or emotional development; or adaptive [behavioral] development.
A child must qualify in one or more of the 14 disability categories in order to qualify for special education services. If you suspect that your child has a disability do not hesitate to share your concerns with your child’s doctor and school team. If your child is not school-aged you can contact your local Infants and Toddlers Program or Child Find program to learn more about finding out if your child is eligible for special education. When kids are found eligible aged three and up, the next step will be to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). For kids that qualify for special education who are two and under an Individualized Family Service Plan is developed. See the links below to learn more.
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