As you address your child’s learning or attention problems with teachers and other professionals, you will probably hear many terms that are new or confusing to you. Following is a guide to terms frequently used in educational settings.
Accommodations: Techniques and materials that don't change the basic curriculum but do make learning a little easier or help kids communicate what they know.
Achievement Tests: Measures of acquired knowledge in academic skills, such as reading, math, writing, and science.
Advocacy: Recognizing and communicating needs, rights, and interests on behalf of a child; making informed choices.
Assessment: Process of identifying strengths and needs to assist in educational planning; includes observation, record review, interviews, and tests.
Assistive Technology: Any item, piece of equipment, or system that helps kids with disabilities bypass, work around, or compensate for specific learning deficits.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD): A neurobehavioral disorder that causes an individual to be inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive, or to display a combination of those symptoms.
Auditory Discrimination: Ability to identify differences between words and sounds that are similar.
Auditory Processing: Ability to understand spoken language in kids with normal hearing.
Collaboration: Working in partnership on behalf of a child, e.g., parent and teacher, or special education teacher and general education teacher.
Compliance Complaint: Complaint filed with the state department of education or local school district by a person who feels that an educational law has been broken.
Discrepancy: Difference between 2 tests, such as between measures of intellectual ability and academic achievement.
Due Process: Procedural safeguards to protect the rights of the parent/guardian and the child under federal and state laws and regulations for special education; includes voluntary mediation or a due process hearing to resolve differences with the school.
Dysarthria: Disorder of fine motor muscles involved in speech; affects ability to pronounce sounds correctly.
Dyscalculia: Problems with basic math skills; trouble calculating.
Dysgraphia: Difficulty writing legibly with age-appropriate speed.
Dyslexia: A language-based learning disability. In addition to reading problems, dyslexia can also involve difficulty with writing, spelling, listening, speaking and math.
Dysnomia: Difficulty remembering names or recalling specific words; word-finding problems.
Dyspraxia: Difficulty performing and sequencing fine motor movements, such as buttoning.
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Entitles a public school child with a disability to an educational program and related services to meet her unique educational needs at no cost to the parents; based on IEP; under public supervision and meets state standards.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Federal law that provides for special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities.
Individual Transition Plan (ITP): The section of a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) that outlines transition services and helps identify and develop goals which need to be accomplished for the student to meet his post-high school goals.
Individualized Education Program (IEP): Written plan to meet the unique educational needs of a child with a disability who requires special education services to benefit from the general education program; applies to kids enrolled in public schools.
Informed consent: Agreement in writing from parents that they have been informed and understand implications of special education evaluation and program decisions; permission is voluntary and may be withdrawn.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ): Score used to indicate general cognitive ability; average range of intelligence, which includes 84 percent of the population, is 85 to 115.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Educational instruction in a place that encourages maximum interaction between disabled and nondisabled kids and is appropriate to both.
Learning Disability (LD): A neurobiological disorder which affects the way a person of average to above average intelligence receives, processes, or expresses information. LD impacts one’s ability to learn the basic skills of reading, writing, or math.
Modification: Modifications are changes in the delivery, content, or instructional level of a subject or test. They result in changed or lowered expectations and create a different standard for kids with disabilities than for those without disabilities.
Multidisciplinary Team: Professionals with different training and expertise; may include, but not limited to, any combination of the following public school personnel — general education teacher, special education teacher, administrator, school psychologist, speech and language therapist, counselor — and the parent.
Primary Language: Language other than English, or other mode of communication such as sign language, that the child first learned, or the language that's spoken in the home.
Procedural Safeguards: Legal requirements that ensure parents and kids will be treated fairly and equally in the decision-making process about special education.
Pupil Records: Personal information about the child that is kept by the school system and is available for review by legal guardians and others directly involved in her education.
Referral: Written request for assessment to see if the child is a "child with a disability" who needs special education and related services to benefit from her general education program.
Resiliency: Ability to pursue personal goals and bounce back from challenges.
Retention: The practice of having a student repeat a certain grade-level (year) in school; also called “grade retention.”
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: Federal civil rights law requiring school programs and buildings to be accessible to children with disabilities; protects from discrimination.
Self-Advocacy: Child's ability to explain specific learning needs and seek necessary assistance or accommodations.
Special Education: Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of eligible kids whose educational needs can't be met through modification of the regular instructional program; provides for a range of options for services, such as pull out programs, special day classes; available to kids enrolled in public schools.
Transition: Process of preparing kids to function in future environments and emphasizing movement from one educational program to another, such as from elementary school to middle school, or from school to work.
Visual Processing: Ability to interpret visual information in kids with normal sight.