Navigating Special Education Terms: A Complete Glossary for Parents and Educators

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

If you're new to the world of special education, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the vast array of terms and jargon used in this field. From IEPs and 504 plans to inclusion and differentiated instruction, the specialized vocabulary of special education can be a challenge to navigate. That's why we've put together a comprehensive glossary of important terms in special education. Whether you're a parent, teacher, or anyone else involved in the special education process, this guide will help you understand and communicate effectively about the key concepts and terminology in this field.

  1. ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act
  2. ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder
  3. ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  4. APE: Adapted Physical Education
  5. AT: Assistive Technology
  6. ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
  7. BIP: Behavior Intervention Plan
  8. CEC: Council for Exceptional Children
  9. CSE: Committee on Special Education
  10. DB: Deaf-Blindness
  11. DD: Developmental Disabilities
  12. DOE: Department of Education
  13. ED: Emotional Disturbance
  14. ESY: Extended School Year
  15. FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education
  16. FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  17. HI: Hearing Impairment
  18. IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  19. IEE: Independent Educational Evaluation
  20. IEP: Individualized Education Program
  21. IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan
  22. LD: Learning Disability
  23. LRE: Least Restrictive Environment
  24. MD: Multiple Disabilities
  25. NCLB: No Child Left Behind
  26. OHI: Other Health Impairment
  27. OSEP: Office of Special Education Programs
  28. OT: Occupational Therapy
  29. PBIS: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
  30. PT: Physical Therapy
  31. SLP: Speech-Language Pathology
  32. SLD: Specific Learning Disability
  33. TBI: Traumatic Brain Injury
  34. UDL: Universal Design for Learning
  35. VI: Visual Impairment
  36. 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  37. Accommodations: Changes in the way a student is taught or tested to accommodate for their disability
  38. Adaptive Behavior: The ability to perform everyday tasks, such as dressing and grooming oneself
  39. Affective Skills: A person's emotional and social skills
  40. Alternative Assessment: A different way to measure a student's knowledge and skills
  41. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): A type of therapy that focuses on behavior modification
  42. Assistive Device: Equipment or technology that helps a person with a disability to function more effectively
  43. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): A method of communication used by individuals who have difficulty speaking
  44. Behavior Management: The process of modifying and shaping behavior
  45. Behavior Modification: The process of changing behavior through rewards and punishments
  46. Child Find: The process of identifying children who may have disabilities and may require special education services
  47. Co-Teaching: A teaching model where a general education teacher and a special education teacher work together in the same classroom
  48. Cognitive Development: The development of thinking, problem-solving, and memory skills
  49. Collaboration: Working together as a team to support a student's educational needs
  50. Compensatory Education: Additional education provided to students who have experienced educational disadvantage or inequality
  51. Developmental Delay: A delay in one or more areas of a child's development
  52. Differentiation: Tailoring instruction to meet the individual needs of each student
  53. Disability: A physical, mental, or emotional condition that impairs a person's ability to function
  54. Due Process: Legal procedures used to protect the rights of students and their families in special education
  55. Early Intervention: Services provided to young children with disabilities or developmental delays
  56. Emotional Development: The development of emotional regulation, empathy, and self-awareness
  57. Equity: Ensuring that all students have access to high-quality education and support
  58. Extended School Day: A longer school day for students who need additional academic support or services
  59. Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA): The process of identifying and analyzing the antecedents and consequences of problem behavior
  60. Gifted and Talented: Students who demonstrate exceptional abilities or potential in academics, creativity, leadership, or other areas
  61. Inclusion: The practice of integrating students with disabilities into general education classrooms and activities
  62. Intellectual Disability (ID): A disability characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior
  63. Interdisciplinary Team: A group of professionals who collaborate to address a student's needs
  64. Least Dangerous Assumption: The practice of assuming that a student can learn and achieve, rather than assuming they cannot
  65. Mainstreaming: The practice of placing students with disabilities in general education classrooms for part or all of the school day
  66. Manifestation Determination Review (MDR): A process used to determine whether a student's behavior is related to their disability
  67. Modifications: Changes in the content or curriculum to meet a student's individual needs
  68. Occupational Therapy (OT): Therapy that helps individuals develop skills necessary for daily living and working
  69. Paraprofessional: A trained assistant who supports teachers and students in the classroom
  70. Parent Training and Information Center (PTI): A federally-funded center that provides information, training, and support to parents of children with disabilities
  71. Physical Therapy (PT): Therapy that helps individuals improve movement, strength, and range of motion
  72. Positive Reinforcement: The practice of providing rewards or praise for positive behavior to encourage its repetition
  73. Present Level of Performance (PLOP): A statement that describes a student's current academic and functional abilities
  74. Prior Written Notice (PWN): A written notice provided to parents before any changes are made to their child's education or services
  75. Procedural Safeguards: The rights and protections provided to students and their families under federal and state law
  76. Progress Monitoring: The process of regularly assessing a student's progress towards their goals
  77. Related Services: Services that support a student's educational needs, such as transportation, counseling, and therapy
  78. Response to Intervention (RTI): A framework for providing early and targeted academic and behavioral support to struggling students
  79. Self-Advocacy: The ability of students to advocate for their own needs and rights
  80. Self-Contained Classroom: A classroom specifically designed for students with disabilities, separate from the general education population
  81. Sensory Integration: The process of processing and responding to sensory information from the environment
  82. Special Education: Specially-designed instruction and related services provided to students with disabilities
  83. Special Education Advocate: A person who assists parents and students in navigating the special education process
  84. Standardized Testing: Tests used to measure a student's academic achievement and progress
  85. State Educational Agency (SEA): The government agency responsible for overseeing education in each state
  86. Supplementary Aids and Services: Supports provided to students with disabilities to help them access the curriculum and participate in school activities
  87. Task Analysis: Breaking down a complex task into smaller, more manageable steps
  88. Transition Planning: The process of planning for a student's post-secondary education, employment, and independent living
  89. Universal Design: The design of products, environments, and curriculum that are accessible and usable by all individuals, regardless of ability
  90. Universal Design for Learning (UDL): A framework for designing curriculum and instruction that is accessible and effective for all students
  91. Visual Supports: Visual aids, such as pictures and charts,
  92. Work-Based Learning: Opportunities for students to gain real-world work experience and develop job skills
  93. Zero Reject: The principle that no student with a disability can be excluded from receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE)
  94. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Federal legislation that provides funding and guidelines for special education services
  95. Section 504: Federal legislation that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires schools to provide accommodations and modifications
  96. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Federal legislation that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, transportation, and public accommodations
  97. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): The legal requirement that schools provide special education and related services at no cost to families
  98. Individualized Education Program (IEP): A legally-binding document that outlines a student's goals, accommodations, and services in special education
  99. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): The principle that students with disabilities should be educated in the least restrictive environment possible while still receiving an appropriate education.

We hope this glossary of important terms in special education has been a helpful resource for you. By understanding these key concepts and vocabulary, you'll be better equipped to navigate the complex world of special education and advocate for the needs of students with disabilities. Whether you're a parent, teacher, or advocate, it's essential to have a solid understanding of the terminology used in this field. With this glossary at your fingertips, you'll be able to communicate more effectively with others involved in the special education process and ensure that every student receives the support they need to succeed.

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