Terminology & Jargon

When starting your search for resources and treatment options, it's common to encounter unfamiliar terms and acronyms. Below is a listing of the most common.

To suggest the addition of a word or phrase, please contact us.


Adaptive Behavior The ability to adjust to new situations and to apply familiar or new skills to those situations. For example, a five-year-old shows adaptive behavior when he is able to use the same table manners he uses at home, while at a friend's house.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990 to establish the clear prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability, which may include autism.

The ADA is divided into three Titles. Title I speaks to employment law, Title II covers State and Local activities (including public transportation), and Title III relates to accommodations in public buildings and businesses.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) ABA is a professional field, usually an in-home intensive therapy program that lasts for more than two years. Therapists come to your home for about 40 hours (or more) each week to work one-on-one with a child on specific predetermined behavior, language, or social skills concern. ABA can also be play-based, and take place in a clinical setting outside of the home.

'Therapists' can be anyone who is trained, including parents. The analyst (or consultant) is responsible for setting the programming, the evaluation of progress, and training of therapists. School staff generally do not provide ABA therapy. More information.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) Children with ADD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating, including following directions, and may be easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly or can be impulsive. While these behaviors are common in children, it's felt that they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADD or ADHD. ADD is also known as hyperactivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS, ADOS-2) A questionnaire for diagnosing and assessing autism spectrum disorders. It involves a series of tasks that examines the social interaction between the examiner and the child. An evaluator will observe behavior and those observations are then scored. Particular scores or markers may identify the diagnosis of autism or related autism spectrum disorders. Here is where one family shared their experience with this process.

The original ADOS was released in 1989. A revision was made in 2012, which added a new toddler module, plus other updates. This version is sometimes referred to as the ADOS-2.

Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) A screening tool, used in conjunction with the ADOS. Is comprised of an interview of parents and covers the child's full developmental history.

Asperger's Syndrome (AS) A developmental disorder that may make it very hard to interact with other people.

People with Asperger's Syndrome may have poor social skills, prefer routine, and not like change. But unlike those who have 'classic autism', children with Asperger's syndrome usually start to talk before age 2, when speech normally starts to develop. These children may find it hard to make friends because he or she may be socially awkward or have difficulty relating to peers.

Asperger's syndrome is a lifelong condition, but symptoms can improve over time. Individuals may benefit from a variety of different therapies. Many adults with this condition can learn to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and can improve their social skills. More information.

While revisions were made to the diagnostic criteria (or DSM) in 2013 eliminating new diagnoses of Asperger’s, many in the autism community believe higher functioning individuals may continue to use this term to self-identify, or parents may use the term because it’s generally understood in the community.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Also known as hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder (ADD), these children generally have problems paying attention or concentrating, including following directions, and are easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and may be impulsive. While these behaviors are common in all children, it's felt that they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD.

Auditory Integration Training (AIT) Auditory integration training is a procedural therapy type for dyslexia and autism. It typically involves 20 half-hour sessions over 10 days listening to specially filtered and modulated music.

While many families worldwide have claimed positive results from this therapy, the American Academy of Pediatrics and some other professional organizations consider it an experimental procedure, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the original device used to perform AIT due to lack of evidence of medical benefit. More information.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) The autism spectrum, also called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or autism spectrum conditions (ASC), identifies a range of psychological conditions usually identified by difficulties or irregularities with social interactions and communication, as well as restricted interests (rigid minded) and highly repetitive behavior.

In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association updated the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The new diagnostic criterion now includes Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD) and Asperger’s (AS) under the umbrella term of ASD. The diagnostic changes also created a new possible diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder (SCD). More information.

Behavioral Assessment Describes the gathering and analyzing of information about a child's behavior. The information may be used to help the child change any negative behavior.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) Lays out at school how the IEP (Individual Education Plan) team will improve difficult behavior. A BIP is a document that describes just how the IEP team will help the child improve their behavior. A BIP may be a required part of an IEP if a child's behavior disrupts the classroom and significantly interrupts their own education. More Information

Birth to Three Program Wisconsin's early intervention program for infants and toddlers with evelopmental delays and disabilities and their families, as outlined by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Program Information Enrollment contacts

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) Also known as Auditory Processing Disorder, is an umbrella term for disorders that affect the way the brain processes auditory information, or sounds.

Children with CAPD / APD intermittently experience an inability to process what is said to them. They may be able to repeat the words back word for word, but the meaning of the words or message is lost. It is a disorder with processing auditory information within the brain.

APD can be congenital or acquired from ear infections, head injuries or developmental delays that cause central nervous system difficulties. More information

As APD is one of the more difficult information processing disorders to detect and diagnose, it may sometimes be misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD, Asperger syndrome and other forms of autism, but it may also be a comorbid aspect of those conditions.

Cerebral Palsy (CP) Cerebral palsy is a group of problems that affects body movement and posture. It is related to a brain injury or to problems with brain growth. CP causes reflex movements that a person can't control and muscle tightness that may affect parts or all of the body, ranging from mild to severe.

In many cases, the exact cause of CP is not known. It may be caused by a brain injury or problem during pregnancy, birth, or within the first few years of life. Some believe there may be genetic factors as well. More information

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder  Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, an extremely rare disorder, is a clearly apparent regression in multiple areas of functioning (such as the ability to move, bladder and bowel control, and social and language skills) following a period of at least 2 years of apparently normal development. More information

Children's Long Term Support Waiver (CLTS) CLTS is the process by which a state asks the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the flexibly use Medicaid funds for community supports and services they deem necessary - or to 'waive' the usual process and structure of the Medicaid program so that the state & counties may use the program funds to fill ‘service gaps’ which support families who keep their disabled children at home, who might otherwise require institutionalized care (which would ultimately cost more).

These states have the flexibility to design each waiver program and select the mix of waiver services that best meets the needs of the population they wish to serve. Wisconsin DHS has a variety of services with the children's waivers, not all of which are determined based upon income, but rather, the level of care needed. More information

Cognitive Disability (CD) Children with cognitive disability tend to have greater difficulty with some types of mental tasks than the average person. Most have basis in biology or physiology.

People with profound cognitive disabilities will need help with nearly every aspect of daily living. Someone with a minor disability may be able to independently function, sometimes even to the extent that the disability is never discovered or diagnosed.

Comorbid / co-morbid Refers to children living with more than one medical condition. Example: Epilepsy is not an uncommon comorbid condition with autism spectrum disorder.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test that gives information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood, especially red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These results help health professionals check any symptoms such as weakness or fatigue, and helps diagnose conditions such as anemia, infection, and many other disorders or health conditions.

Computer Axial Tomography (CT / CAT) Computer Axial Tomography (also known as 'CT Scan) provides physicians with three-dimensional views of internal body structures. During a CT scan, multiple x rays are passed through the body, producing "slices" of images. These images can then be preserved on film for review and study.

DAN! doctor These are licensed medical practitioners who receive specific training from the Autism Research Institute in regards to specific medical needs and treatment options that are believed to be helpful in resolving some of the negative symptoms of autism. Most are physicians, others are licensed health-care professionals in related fields, including chiropractic care. A directory of providers is not available. The accrediting organization recommends families find DAN! Trained professionals through local support groups, or their Yahoo group here.

Department of Public Instruction (DPI) The Department of Public Instruction is the Wisconsin state agency that oversees public education and libraries. The department is headed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an elected officer every four years. For more information visit: www.dpi.state.wi.us

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) Wisconsin's DVR agency provides employment services and counseling to people with disabilities. They arrange or provide for services to enable them to go to work. Their activities include providing training and technical assistance to employers regarding disability employment issues. They work with both employees and employers. To find a DVR office in your area, visit: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr

Developmental Delay A term that is used to describe the condition of a child who is not achieving new skills in the typical time frame or is exhibiting behaviors that are not appropriate for most children their age. Some children who are developmentally delayed eventually have a specific diagnosis of a particular developmental disability. Other children with delays catch up with their peers.

Developmental Disability (DD) A term given to describe severe and chronic disability that is attributed to a physical or mental impairment, or to several impairments; and is likely to continue indefinitely. Developmental disabilities can result in the inability to live independently.

Developmental, Individual, Difference Relationship (DIR) Also known widely as 'Floortime', DIR is a method of therapy that takes a child back to the very first milestone he may have missed and begins again the developmental and learning process. By working with parents and therapists, children may begin to acquire the skills they may be missing. Therapy is intensive, and one-on-one with the child.

Floortime is a 20-to-30-minute period when you get down on the floor with your child and interact and play. Frequently, parents are instructed how to do this type of therapy by professionals, and may be done in conjunction with Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists. More information **link to page about this therapy**

Developmental Pediatrician A medical doctor who is a pediatrician with special training and certification in developmental & behavioral pediatrics.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) The DSM is thought to be the most widely used manual of diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders (and other illnesses) in the United States. The latest version, the DSM-5, was released in Spring 2013. More information DSM-5 Information for parents

Direct Instruction (DI) Direct instruction is a general educational term for the explicit teaching of a skill-set using lectures or demonstrations of the material. In a direct instruction lesson the teacher usually spends some time lecturing; then the teacher guides the students through a complex problem, with the problem broken down into simple steps; then the students are given, one by one, the simple steps to carry out on their own; finally, the students are given one or many sample problems to accomplish on their own. More information

Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based (DIR) A comprehensive, interdisciplinary therapeutic approach that focuses on the emotional development of the child. It takes into account the child’s feelings, relationships with caregivers, developmental level and individual differences in a child’s ability to process and respond to sensory information. More information

Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) Discrete trial training (DTT) is a particular ABA strategy which enables complex skills and behaviors by first mastering the smaller parts of the larger skill. More information

Early Childhood (EC) A term used to describe children between the ages of one to six years old.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) A fairly generic term for applied behavioral analysis (ABA-based) interventions, the focus is on very young children with autism, usually younger than five, and often younger than three. The intensity of intervention is significant in number of hours and in the ratio of child to instructor. More information

Echolalia The repetition of words produced by others. Echoed words or phrases can include the same words and inflections as were originally heard or they may be somewhat modified. Immediate echolalia refers to words immediately repeated or repeated a brief time after they were heard. Delayed echolalia refers to the repetition of speech much later - even after days or years.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) An electroencephalogram is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain. Special wire sensors are attached to the head and connected to a computer, which records the brain's electrical activity on the screen or on paper as wavy lines. Certain conditions, such as seizures, can be seen by the changes in the normal pattern of electrical activity. More information

Emotional Behavioral Disability (EBD) Emotional Behavioral Disability is a designation issued by the school IEP team to identify children who exhibit social, emotional or behavioral functioning that adversely affects academic progress, social relationships, self-care or vocational skills. The behaviors are severe, chronic, and frequent. The designation is made by the IEP team with a variety of sources of information including observations and prior documented interventions.

Some students who are EBD are appropriately served in regular education classrooms with supplementary services, while others may require pullout programming for all or part of their school day. For more information: http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/ed.html

Environmental modifications A term used to describe accommodations that are intended to reduce obstacles to educational success, especially for those affected by sensory stimuli. Examples may include dim lighting, covering toys in the classroom, or blank, pale walls.

Epilepsy A condition characterized by recurrent seizures that are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can occur for many reasons, including damage to the brain due to infection, injury, birth trauma, tumor, stroke, drug intoxication and chemical imbalance. Epilepsy is usually treated with medication, and may also be called seizure disorder. More information

Expressive Language Refers to the ability to communicate by gesture, sign language, verbalization, or in writing.

Extended School Year A Special education service provided beyond the normal school year, in accordance with the child's IEP and at no cost to the parents, when needed, based upon several factors. More information

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) FAPE, as part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 affirms the educational rights of children with disabilities. FAPE provides for regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual needs of everyone, regardless of diagnosis.

FAPE is defined as an educational program that is individualized to a specific child, designed to meet that child's specific needs, provides access to the general curriculum, meets the grade-level standards established by the state, and from which the child receives educational benefit.

To provide FAPE to a child with a disability, schools must provide students with an education, including specialized instruction and related services that prepare the child for higher education, employment, and independent living.

Functional Behavior Analysis The process of systematically determining the function of negative behavior. May be used as part of psychotherapy or cognitive therapy, or in IEP or behavioral planning at school.

Functional Assessment of Behavior Similar to functional behavior analysis, but differs in that the events taking place before and after the behavior are not changed in order to prove the function of the behavior. Functional Assessments are usually done to develop IEP plans that address challenging or inappropriate behaviors.

GF / CF Diet (Also known as Gluten Free and Casein Free Diet) The basis of this diet is removal of gluten (commonly found in wheat) and casein (commonly found in dairy products) with the goal of improving digestion (and then ultimately, behavior) in autistic individuals. Some parents who have implemented the diet for their children have noticed improvements in health and digestive function. More information

Please note : This should only be undertaken under the guidance of a medical professional who can help you determine if it's appropriate for your child.

Hyperbaric therapy (HBOT) Involves the breathing of pure oxygen while in a sealed chamber that has been pressurized at 1 1/2 to 3 times normal atmospheric pressure.

The FDA considers oxygen to be a drug, meaning it must be prescribed by a physician or licensed health care provider to treat illnesses or health conditions. More information

Please note : This should only be undertaken under the guidance of a medical professional, who can help you determine if it's appropriate for your child.

Inclusion - The general concept of including people with disabilities in all aspects of life, such as (but not limited to) education, community living, employment and recreation.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) A term used in school, an IEP is a written statement and plan that outlines a child's current level of development (including abilities and impairments) and an individualized plan of instruction, including the goals, the specific services to be received, the people who will carry out the services, the standards and time lines for evaluating progress, and the amount and degree to which the child will participate with non-handicapped peers at school.

IEP's are developed by the child's parents and a team of specialists at school. It is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for all children in special education, ages three years and up. More information

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) Similar to an IEP, an IFSP is a written plan describing an infant's current level of development, strengths, needs, and goals. The plan is developed with the parents and Early Intervention Team. They should be evaluated annually, and reviewed every 6 months. The Individualized Family Service Plan is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for all infants receiving early intervention services, usually from Wisconsin’s Birth to Three programs.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) A federal law that reauthorizes and amends the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Part of the law focuses on services to infants and toddlers who are at-risk or have developmental disabilities. More information

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) A term used most often in school settings to describe an environment that permits a child with disabilities to get the greatest educational benefit while participating in a regular educational environment to the greatest extent possible. It is presumed that a child with a disability will be educated in the general classroom, with appropriate supports, unless the IEP Team deems another setting as more suitable.

Line Therapist A line therapist directly implements the therapy in a program, usually ABA based.

Local Education Agency (LEA) The Local Education Agency is the office charged with providing special educational services on the local level. In Wisconsin, these are frequently the CESA's (Cooperative Educational Service Agencies). For more information, visit: http://dpi.wi.gov/lbstat/newmap2.html

MAPS The Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS) is an organization out of California that has developed a course of study and medical fellowship for physicians and other medical professionals specific to the biomedical treatment of autism spectrum disorders & associated illnesses. The training process includes attendance at training conferences, as well as spending time with another specialist in the field, seeing patients. More information


Medicaid The United States health program for eligible individuals and families with low incomes and resources. It is a program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states.

Among the groups of people served by Medicaid are certain eligible U.S. citizens and resident aliens, including low-income adults and their children, and people with certain disabilities. Poverty alone does not necessarily qualify an individual for Medicaid. More information

Occupational Therapy (OT) OT could best be described as therapeutic treatment aimed at helping injured, ill or disabled individuals to develop and improve. The occupational therapist could address a child's motor, sensory and postural development with the overall goal of improving or minimizing the negative aspects.

Perseveration The repetition of a response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture. Or a significant distraction on an object to the point of fixation or obsession.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a diagnostic category in a previous version of the physician's diagnostic manual (DSM). The DSM uses the term Pervasive Developmental Disorder to refer to a "severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development: reciprocal social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities." Sometimes physicians used the abbreviation PDD alone when diagnosing a child who had some, but not all, of the symptoms of autism. With the release of the newer DSM-5, PDD is no longer offered as a new diagnosis, but is instead now considered part of the larger ‘autism spectrum disorder’. Here is where we’ve gathered Wisconsin – specific information for PDD families as to how this DSM change impacts them (good news, if you have an established diagnosis – it doesn’t!)

Physical Therapy (PT) A common phrase used to describe therapeutic treatment designed to prevent or alleviate movement difficulty. The goal may be to develop muscle strength, range of motion, coordination or endurance; to alleviate pain; or to attain new motor skills.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) PECS is a communication training program for helping children with autism acquire functional communication skills. Children using PECS are taught to give a picture of a desired item to communicate their needs / desires. Sample Pictures.

Pivotal response training Is a set of procedures designed to increase motivation and promote generalization. It was developed to overcome problems of stimulus over selectivity and motivation. It focuses on a set of specific procedures that increase responsivity to simultaneous multiple cues. The logic of teaching this is that educators might indirectly affect a large number of individual behaviors. More information

Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) A screening tool (checklist) used by the family doctor or pediatrician to facilitate the screening of young children that are at risk for autism.

The current practice is for Pediatricians and family doctors to use this questionnaire during a child's 18-month developmental check-up. If a child fails the M-CHAT once, usually parents are advised to re-screen approximately one month later. If a child fails a second time, that child should be referred to a specialist for diagnosis.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) OCD is described as a mental disorder characterized by thoughts that produce anxiety, or by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by combinations of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). The symptoms range from repetitive hand-washing and extensive hoarding to preoccupation with sexual, religious, or aggressive impulses. OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder. The symptoms can range from difficulty with odd numbers to unusual habits such as opening a door and closing it a certain number of times before leaving.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) An ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior. People who have it may appear very stubborn.

To meet the diagnostic criteria, the defiance must interfere with the child's ability to function in school, home, or the community. Also, the defiance cannot be the result of another disorder, and the problem behavior must have been happening for more than six months. Some in the autism community are concerned that the rigidity in thought some children display is being misdiagnosed as ODD when it may be an ASD.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) PDD-NOS is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) under the diagnostic criteria offered by the previous Diagnostic Manual (DSM-$). While those with it have some characteristics of disorders on the autistic spectrum, they don't generally fit the diagnostic criteria of any of the other disorders. While PDD-NOS shares similarities with autism, it tends to be milder. PDD-NOS is sometimes referred to as ‘atypical autism’, or ‘high functioning autism’.

Individuals diagnosed with PDD-NOS might have difficulties socializing, demonstrate repetitive behaviors, and be oversensitive to certain stimuli. In their interaction with others they might struggle to maintain eye contact, appear unemotional, or appear to be unable to speak. They may also have difficulty transitioning from one activity or environment to another.

Pivotal Response Training  A theraputic intervention based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Two pivotal behaviors, motivation and responsivity to multiple cues are taught. These behaviors are central to a wide area of functioning and positive changes in these behaviors should have widespread effects. More information

Present Level of Performance (PLOP or PLP) A term used frequently at school that describes the portion of the IEP that details how the child is doing right now. An accurate and complete PLP is essential for determining appropriate goals.

Qualitative Developmental Assessment An evaluation of the quality, rather than the quantity, of a child's cognitive skills.

Receptive Language The ability to understand what is being expressed, including verbal and nonverbal communication, such as sign language.

Regression Reverting to a more immature form of behavior or decreased skill level. For example, a child who resumes sucking her thumb after a substantial period (months or years) of no thumb-sucking.

Reinforcement A behavior modification technique used to increase the likelihood of a desired response or behavior. Positive reinforcement is accomplished by rewarding a desirable behavior. One form of negative reinforcement is to withdraw a privilege.

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) A trademarked, proprietary treatment program that builds motivation and teaches skills by focusing on the child's current developmental level of functioning. Children begin work in a one-on-one setting with a parent, and when they are ready, they are matched with a peer at a similar level of relationship development. Gradually additional children are added to the group and the number of settings in which children practice is often modified to help the child form and maintain relationships in different contexts.

Resource Specialist A teacher who provides special education instruction to children who are taught by regular classroom teachers for the majority of the school day. Sometimes called resource teachers.

Self-Injurious Behavior (SIB) Abnormal behaviors that are harmful to oneself, such as head- banging, scratching or biting oneself.

Self-Stimulation Defined as abnormal behaviors that interfere with someone's ability to pay attention or participate in meaningful activity, such as head banging, watching the fingers wiggle or rocking side to side. It is often referred to as "self-stimming" or "stimming." Unpurposeful play with a toy can be self-stimulating, such as repetitively spinning the wheels of a toy truck instead of exploring the different ways it can be used.

Senior Therapist A senior therapist designs the therapy curriculum, trains and supervises the line therapists, and helps to coordinate the services with others under the direction of a Behavior Analyst.

Sensory Impairment A problem with receiving information through one or more of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc.). For example, deafness is a sensory impairment.

Sensory Integration - The ability of the central nervous system to receive, processes, and learn from sensations in order to develop skills. The sensations include touch, movement, sight, sound, smell and the pull of gravity.

Sensory Stimulation - Any arousal of one or more of the senses. For example, a play activity that includes touching strips of shiny cellophane, listening to them crinkle, and watching while a bright light is shining on them against a contrasting background might be fun and stimulating for a child with visual impairment.

Social Communication Disorder (SCD) First available as a diagnosis with the new DSM in 2013, Social (pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SCD) is a diagnosis used to identify persistent difficulties in the social uses of verbal and nonverbal communication. Different than being diagnosed with an ASD, this diagnosis would not include those who have ever had restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities (the other component of ASD) or other pieces of the ASD diagnosis like sensory difficulties.

Social Story Social Stories are used to explain to someone an intended process or outcome, to alleviate fears of the unknown. For example, before going to the dentist for the first time a social story is a way for a child to learn what to expect as to the environment, sounds and feelings. Ready-made social stories can be purchased, although many parents create their own using common computer office software programs.

Spectrum Disorder - A disorder, such as autism, that appears with a wide range of characteristics and functioning. At one end of the spectrum of autism, individuals tend to have many challenging behaviors. At the other end, individuals generally have greater cognitive abilities and can communicate relatively well with spoken language.

Speech Therapy - Therapy to improve the individual's speech and language skills, as well as oral motor abilities.

Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) - These professionals administer hearing, speech and language evaluations, tests and examinations to patients to develop, implement and monitor treatment plans for problems such as stuttering, delayed language, swallowing disorders and or voice problems. SLP's usually have Master Degrees, and are licensed.

Stimulus preference assessment - Any systematic method used to predict which stimuli will function as positive reinforcers for a child's behavior.

T.E.A.C.C.H. (Treatment and Education of Autism and Related Communication Handicapped Children) This is a therapeutic approach broadly based on the idea that individuals with autism more effectively use and understand visual cues. It focuses on promoting dependence by using items such as picture schedules to break down tasks step-by-step. This enables an individual to better comprehend and perform the task independently. This approach often aids receptive communication and sequential memory. More information

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - Also called intracranial injury, occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain.

TBI can cause a host of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or death. Depending on the injury, treatment required may be minimal or may include interventions such as medications and emergency surgery. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy may be utilized for rehabilitation. More information

Verbal Behavior - A behavioral therapy approach to teaching communication skills to children with autism and other developmental disabilities, based on B.F. Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior.

Visual Supports Written words, pictures and/or icons that convey information in visual medium. Individuals with autism are typically visual learners and conveying information visually assists with comprehension.