Glossary of Terms


Did you visit a doctor or a website to learn more about what your child is facing and you came across a word you didn’t recognize? It happens all the time when it comes to people new to the world of autism. That’s why we’ve created a Glossary of Terms, an aid to better help you understand this disorder and all of the specifics related to it.



Adaptive Skills are those used in daily living such as eating, dressing and toileting.

Advocacy is taking action to assure appropriate services are received.

Allowed Amount is the maximum amount on which payment is based for covered health care services. This may be called “eligible expense,” “payment allowance” or “negotiated rate.” If your provider charges more than the allowed amount, you may have to pay the difference. (See Balance Billing.)

Appeal (as it pertains to your health insurance plan) is a request for your health insurer or plan to review a decision or a grievance again.

Assistive Augmentative Communications (AAC) is a device that provides an alternative for spoken language. For example, photographs and picture exchange communication.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that ensures rights of persons with disabilities with regard to employment and other issues.

Anoxia is a condition of insufficient oxygen.

Anticonvulsant is a type of drug used to prevent or stop seizures or convulsions; also called antiepileptic.

Anxiety Disorder is a disorder that affects an estimated 30% of individuals with autism and includes social phobia, separation anxiety, panic disorder and specific phobias. An individual suffering from anxiety may experience strong internal sensations of tension such as racing heart, muscular tensions and stomachache.

APGAR Score is given to newborns at 1 minute of life and then again at 5 minutes of life. The score is between 0 and 10 and is a way of indicated the overall physical condition of the infant.

Aphasia is difficulty with language (expressing or understanding).

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a style of teaching using series of trials to shape desired behavior response. Skills are broken into small components and taught to child through a system of reinforcement.

Apraxia is a neurological disorder of voluntary movement, consisting of partial or total incapacity to execute purposeful movements, without impairment of muscular power, sensibility and coordination. The person has difficulty sequencing movements in the service of a goal. Apraxia is the loss of a previously acquired motor function as apposed to dyspraxia.

Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder on the Autism spectrum defined by impairments in communication and social development and by repetitive interests and behaviors, without a significant delay in language and cognitive development. The diagnosis is no longer used in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-5), but DSM-5 indicates that individuals with a “well-established diagnosis” of these conditions “should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.”

Assessment is collecting and bringing together of information about a child’s needs, which may include social, psychological, and educational evaluations used to determine services.

Assistive Listing Device (ALD) is any type of device that can help you function better in day-to-day communication.

Assistive Technology (AT) is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices and the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. Assistive technology (AT) promotes greater independence for people with disabilities by enabling them to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or changed methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.

Atonic is lacking muscle tone.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a disorder characterized by a child’s persistent impulsiveness and very short attention span.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects approximately 1 in 5 children with autism. Symptoms include chronic problems with inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Atypical is unusual or different from the norm.

Audiologist is a professional who diagnoses and treats individuals with hearing loss or balance problems.

Auditory Processing is the ability to understand and use information that is heard, both words as well as other nonverbal sounds.

Augmentative Communication see assistive augmentative communication.

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Addition (ADOS-2) is a test considered to be current gold standard for diagnosing ASD and, along with information from parents, should be incorporated into a child’s evaluation. This test is administered by a trained professional as part of the evaluation and diagnosis process for patients between 12 months and adulthood.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual V (DSM-5) all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. 


Balance Billing is when a provider bills you for the difference between the provider’s charge and the allowed amount. For example, if the provider’s charge is $100 and the allowed amount is $70, the provider may bill you for the remaining $30. A preferred provider may not balance bill you for covered services.

Baseline is the current level of and individual’s functioning before instruction.

Behavior Support Plan (BSP) see behavior intervention plan.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a plan written by the individual education plan (IEP) team, although an IEP is not required in order to have a BIP for a student who demonstrates and need for this service. Anyone on the team, including the parent, can request a BIP be written and put in place at the school for a student. A BIP is a multi-component plan with several layers of support and are used to establish effective and comprehensive strategies for addressing challenging behavior at school. All interventions identified and written into the plan should be selected based on the results of the Functional Behavior Assessment, designed to promote positive behavior while teaching new skills to replace problem behavior with and overall goal of increasing social and academic competencies.


Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is a disorder in which development begins normally in all areas, physical and metal. At some point between 2 and 10 years of age, the child loses previously developed skills. The child may lose social and language skills and other functions, including bowel and bladder control. The diagnosis is no longer used in DSM-5, but DSM-5 indicates that individuals with a “well-established diagnosis” of these conditions “should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.”

Chronic Constipation is an ongoing condition of having fewer than three bowel movements per week.

Co-insurance is your share of the costs of a covered health care service, calculated as a percent (for example, 20%) of the allowed amount for the service. You pay co-insurance plus any deductibles you owe. For example, if the health insurance or plan’s allowed amount for an office visit is $100 and you’ve met your deductible, your co-insurance payment of 20% would be $20. The health insurance or plan pays the rest of the allowed amount.

Co-payment is a fixed amount (for example, $15) you pay for a covered health care service, usually when you receive the service. The amount can vary by the type of covered health care service.

Cognitive Skills are any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge; these skills include reasoning, perception and judgement.

Colitis is inflammation of the large intestine.

Community Based Services occur in the individuals typical community environment instead of a clinical or institutional setting.

Complex Behavior Collaborative (CBC) is the State of Alaska (SOA) Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) program that helps providers meet the needs of Medicaid clients with complex needs who are often aggressive, assaultive and difficult to support. The CBC program offers consultation and training to providers and clients’ natural supports, including family members.

Compulsions are deliberate repetitive behaviors that follow specific rules, such as pertaining to cleaning, checking or counting. In young children, restricted patterns of interest may be early sign of compulsions.

Contracture is when a muscle becomes fixed in rigid, abnormal position.

Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are used by all healthcare providers, health insurance and healthcare facilities to track and determine the cost of any medical procedure or evaluation. Health insurance companies will often only cover a service if it is an allowed expense relating to a covered International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Edition (ICD 10) code diagnosis.


Declarative Language is used to communicate what the mind is producing. It is what is most common in conversation, whereas Imperative language is used to ask questions, make commands or given instructions.

Deductible is the amount you owe for health care services your health insurance or plan covers before your health insurance or plan begins to pay. For example, if your deductible is $1000, your plan won’t pay anything until you’ve met your $1000 deductible for covered health care services subject to the deductible. The deductible may not apply to all services.

Denali Care or Denali Kid Care, see medicaid.

Department Education and Early Development (DEED) is the State of Alaska (SOA) department responsible for the arts council, public libraries, public museums, public schools, and public school nutrition programs.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the State of Alaska (SOA) department responsible for overseeing Alaska Pioneer Homes, Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Behavioral Health, Finance and Management Services, Health Care Services, Juvenile Justice, Office of Children’s Services, Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention, Public Assistance, Public Health, Senior and Disability Services.

Developmental Disabilities (DD) are disabilities that interfere with the normal pace and order of mastering skills (neurological, intellectual, physical, or social).

Developmental Delay describes the acquisition of skills after the expected age in achieving that particular set of cognitive, adaptive, physical, communication or social skills.

Developmental Disorder refers to several disorders that affect normal development. May affect single area of development (specific developmental disorders) or several (pervasive developmental disorders). 

Developmental Milestones are skills or behaviors that most children can do by certain age that enable the monitoring of learning, behavior and development. 

Developmental Pediatrician is a medical doctor who is board-accredited and has received sub-specialty training in developmental-behavioral pediatrics.

Disability Determination Unit (DDU) is an office of the federal social security administration who is tasked with determining if the level of disability of an applicant for social security disability income (SSDI) meets the level of care to qualify for that benefit.

Division of Public Assistance (DPA) is the State of Alaska (SOA) Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) division responsible for overseeing Adult Public Assistance, Child Care, Chronic and Acute Medical Assistance, Denali KidCare, Family Nutrition, Food Stamps, General Relief Assistance, Heating Assistance, Medicaid, Senior Benefits, Temporary Assistance.

Division of Senior and Disability Services (DSDS) is the State of Alaska (SOA) Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) division responsible overseeing for Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Centers for Independent Living, Community First Choice, Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program, General Relief Program, Long Term Care Resources, Medicare Information Office, Nursing Facility Transition Program, Personal Care Services, Rural Long-Term Care Development, STAR, Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury Program.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) is the State of Alaska (SOA) Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) division responsible for helping alaskans with disabilities get and keep good jobs.

Dexterity see fine motor skills.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-5) is the official system for classification of psychological and psychiatric disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013 that, among other changes, established new criteria for an autism diagnosis, eliminated the previously separate subcategories on the autism spectrum, including Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Autistic Disorder and added a new category called Social Communication Disorder (SCD).

Due Process Hearing (as it relates to special education) is a court proceeding held at the courthouse and presided over by a hearing officer who acts as both judge and jury. The purpose of this process is to resolve disagreements between families and a regional center and/or local education agency (LEA) related to a proposal or refusal for identification, evaluation, assessment, placement, or services through the public school system.

Durable Medical Equipment (DME) encompasses the equipment and supplies ordered by a health care provider for everyday or extended use. Coverage for DME may include: oxygen equipment, wheelchairs, crutches or blood testing strips for diabetics.

Dysarthria is difficulty in speaking because of muscle movement coordination.

Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing.

Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder of voluntary movement, consisting of partial or total incapacity to execute purposeful movements, without impairment of muscular power, sensibility and coordination. The person has difficulty sequencing movements in the service of a goal. Dyspraxia is the inability to acquire motor function as apposed to apraxia.


Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) is a benefit under Medicaid providing comprehensive and preventative health care services for Medicaid enrolled children under age 21.

Early Intervention (EI) is a state-funded program designed to identify and treat developmental problems or other disabilities as early as possible. Eligibility for EI is from birth to three years of age.

Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT), see otolaryngologist.

Echolalia is repeating words or phrases heard previously, either immediately after hearing a work or phrase or much later. Delayed echolalia occurs days or weeks later. Functional echolalia is using quoted phrase in a way that has shared meaning, for example, saying “carry you” to ask to be carried.

Endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating problems of the endocrine system (glands that secrete into the bloodstream). This doctor would see and individuals with diabetes, growth or hormone problems.

Electroensephalogram (EEG) is a test using electrodes on scalp to record electrical brain activity for diagnosis of seizure disorder or abnormal brain wave patterns.

Epilepsy (seizure disorder) is a pattern of repeated seizures, causes include head injury, brain tumor, lead poisoning, genetic and infectious illness. Cause is unknown in 50% of cases.

Evaluation Summary and Eligibility Report (ESER) summarizes the results of a special education evaluation and documents the determination of special education eligibility.

Excluded Services are health are services that your health insurance or plan doesn’t pay for or cover.

Expressive Labeling is the communication of a name for an object or person, see expressive language.

Expressive Language is communication of intentions, desires or ideas to others, through speech or printed words and includes gestures, signing, communication board and other forms of expression.

Extended School Year (ESY) Services are provided during breaks from school, such as during summer vacation, for students who experience substantial regression in skills during school vacations.


Fine Motor Skill (or dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles, in movements — usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers — with the eyes. The complex level of manual dexterity that humans exhibit can be attributed to and demonstrating in task controlled by the nervous system.

Fragile X Syndrome is a genitive disorder that shares many of the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals displaying signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder may be tested for Fragile X.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) means that education must be provided to all children ages three to twenty-one at public expense.

Functional Skills see adaptive skills.


Gait is the manner of walking.

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach.

Gastroenterologist is a doctor specializing in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and biliary system.

Gastrointestinal (GI) pertains to the digestive tract, including the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum.

Genetic Councilor provides information about hereditary disorders, confirms diagnosis and helps identify who in the family may be affected.

Global Developmental Delay is a diagnosis in children younger than 5, characterized by delay in two or more developmental domains.

Grievance is a complete that you communicate in writing to your health insurer or plan, the school or institution your child attends, a government agency or provider.

Gross Motor Skills are the abilities required in order to control the large muscles of the body for walking, running, sitting, crawling, and other activities.



Habilitation Service are health care services that help a person keep, learn or improve skills and functioning for daily living. Examples include therapy for a child who isn’t walking or talking at the expected age. These services may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and other service for people with disabilities in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.

Health Insurance is a contract that requires your health insurer to pay some or all of your health care costs in exchange for a premium.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is the federal law which insures comprehensive protection for the privacy of personal health information.

Hearing Impairment (HI) is used to describe persons who experience hearing impairment that limits or impairs their ability to function in the same manner as non hearing impaired peers; is used to identify equipment, assistive technology, services or programs that are specifically designed to aid persons who experience hearing impairment.

High School Diploma Deferment is a way of gaining access to transition services funding streams once a student with and individualized education plan (IEP) has completed all the requirements for attaining a high school diploma. This is optional and does not affect the students ability to participate in a graduation ceremony with their peers not does it affect the students ability of obtain a high school diploma.

Home Health Care are health care services a person receives at home.

Hyperlexia is the ability to read at an early age. To by hyperlexic, a child does not need to understand what he or she is reading.

Hypersensativitiy, see sensory defensiveness.

Hyperresponsiveness, see sensory defensiveness.

Hyporesponsiveness or hypsosensitivity, is abnormal insensitivity to sensory input. Could be exhibited by a child who appears to be deaf, whose hearing is normal, is under active to sensory input, may have a high tolerance to pain, may be clumsy, sensation seeking and may act aggressively.

Hypotonia is a condition of abnormally low muscle tone (the amount of tension or resistance to movement in a muscle), often involving reduced muscle strength. Hypotonia is not a specific medical disorder, but a potential manifestation of many different diseases and disorders that affect motor nerve control by the brain or muscle strength. Recognizing hypotonia, even in early infancy, is usually relatively straightforward, but diagnosing the underlying cause can be difficult and often unsuccessful. The long-term effects of hypotonia on a child’s development and later life depend primarily on the severity of the sucre weakness and the nature of the cause. Some disorders have specific treatment but the principal treatment for most hypotonia of idiopathic or neuromuscular cause is physical therapy to help the person compensate for the neuromuscular disability.


In-network Co-insurance is the percent (for example, 20%) you pay of the allowed amount for covered health care services to providers who contract with your health insurance or plan. In-network co-insurance usually costs you less than out-of-network co-insurance.

In-network Co-payment is a fixed amount (for example, $15) you pay for covered health care services to providers who contract with your health insurance or plan. In-network co-payments usually are less than out-of-network co-payments.

Inclusion involves educating all children in regular classrooms, regardless of degree or severity of disability. Effective inclusion takes place with a planned system of training and supports; involves collaboration of multidisciplinary team including regular and special educators.

Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed by a multidisciplinary team including family as primary participant. Describes child’s level of development in all areas; family’s resources, priorities and concerns, services to be received and frequency, intensity and method of delivery. Must state natural environments in which services will occur. This plan is put together by the early intervention team (through PIC or FOCUS in the Anchorage area) and is a useful document to bring when transitioning to school based services once the child is 3 years old.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) identifies student’s specific learning expectations, how school will address them with appropriate services and methods to review progress. For students 14 years and older, must contain plan to transition to postsecondary education or the workplace or to help the student live as independently as possible in the community.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law mandating the “Free and Public Education” of all persons with disabilities between ages 3 and 21.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Unit (IDD Unit) is the State of Alaska (SOA) Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Senior and Disability Services (SDS) unit the is responsible for monitoring service providers and supports systems serving individuals who experience intellectual or developmental disabilities. The IDD Unit oversees the following: Developmental Disabilities (DD) eligibility program; Developmental Disabilities (DD) Registry (also know as the “Waitlist”); Individual Supports Waiver (ISW); Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Waiver.

Intellectual Disabilities (ID) is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.

Interdisciplinary Assessment Team includes professionals from different disciplines that assess the individual’s needs, strengths and deficits. This type of assessment often leads to a diagnosis and should always include a list of recommendations for the family.

Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR) is a Medicaid term referring to skilled nursing facilities specifically designed to provide “active treatment” to people with “mental retardation”.

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Edition (ICD 10) is a numerical system used by medical providers and health insurance companies to assign a number, or code, to diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances related to the patient’s health and external causes of injury or diseases. The ICD 10 codes, both the primary and secondary, used by providers to bill insurance directly impacts the amount of the bill covered by the insurance company.


Joint Attention is the process of sharing one’s experience of observing an object or event, by following gaze or pointing gestures. Critical for social development, language acquisition, cognitive development. Impairment in joint attention is a core deficit of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Learning Disability (LD) is a specific disability that severely disrupts the academic achievement of a student with average or above average potential in on or more ares (such as reading or math).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the setting that least restricts opportunities for a child who experiences disabilities to be with peers who do not experience disabilities. The law mandates that every child with a disability be education in an LRE.

Local Education Agency (LEA) is the educational agency that has the financial obligation to see that for each student for which it is responsible can access a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).


Mainstreaming is where all students are expected to participate in existing regular education classes with little or no additional support. This differs from inclusive classrooms where students of all abilities participate at their highest level possible. For example, a student experiencing global delay or other significant disabilities may have inclusive lunch and gym class but special education class settings for reading and math.

Mediation (as it pertains to special education) is a free dispute resolution process available to parents of children with disabilities. If you are in a disagreement with the school district, you can ask for medication. A third party mediator will be assigned to try and help resolve the issues.

Medicaid is a public insurance system that provides free health insurance to persons who are eligible. It is jointly funded by federal and state governments and administered by state governments. It is not “welfare” and does not provide its beneficiaries with cash assistance.

Medical Home is a model or philosophy of primary care that is patient-centered, team-based, coordinated, accessible, and focused on quality and safety.

Medically Necessary means health care services or supplies needed to prevent, diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease or its symptoms and that meet accepted standards of medicine.

Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers Revised Edition (MCHAT-R) is a screening tool for identifying young children who may be referred to specialist for further evaluation and possible autism spectrum diagnosis (ASD) diagnosis.

Motor Deficits are physical skills that a person cannot perform or has difficulty performing.

Motor Function, or motor skills, is the ability to move and control movements.

Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) is a group of professionals — all working with the same individual — who each represent a different area of expertise and who each develop different goals and plans of care based on their own area of expertise.


Network (at it pertains to your health insurance or plan) is the facilities, providers and suppliers your health insurer or plan has contracted with to provide health care service.

Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician is medical doctor who have additional training that focuses on the assessment and management of developmental problems. Typical symptoms or concerns that a developmental pediatrician is training to evaluate include (but are not limited to) delayed speech or language, emotional or behavior problems. A neurodevelpmental pediatrician can diagnose autism spectrum disorder and recommend a treatment plan.

Neurological Disorder is a disorder of the nervous system such as spina bifida, epilepsy and neurofibromatosis.

Neurologist is a doctor specializing in medical problems associated with the nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord.

Neurosurgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

Neurotypical is a neologism used to describe people whose neurological development and state are consistent with what most people would perceive as typical in their ability to process linguistic information and social cues. While originally coined among the autistic community as a label for non-autistic persons, the concept was later adopted by both the neurodiversity movement and the scientific community.

Non-Preferred Provider is a provider who doesn’t have a contract with your health insurer or plan to provide services to you. You’ll pay more to see a non-preferred provider. Check your policy to see if you can go to all providers who have contracted with you health insurance or plan, or if your health insurance or plan, or if your health insurance or plan has. “tiered” network and you must pay extra to see some providers.

Nonverbal Behaviors are things people do to convey information or express emotions without words, including eye gaze, facial expression, body postures and gestures.

Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) is a form filled out by the school district or other educational entity which describes a student’s recommended placement. In theory, this document is filled out after review of the learners’s needs and strengths, describes other settings that were considered, and explains why other options were rejected. It is important to note that the NOREP should be developed in cooperation with other members of the individualized education plan (IEP) team — including parents, teachers, administrators, and if possible, the student. It should not come as a surprise to parents. It is sometimes the case that schools will reject parents’ requests for private or specialized settings. This may be in part because schools are legally bound to place students in the least restrictive environment (LRE) or its may be more of a matter of cost.

Nutritionist is a specialist in nutrition who can help with health issues of food intake and diet.



Obsessions are persistent and intrusive repetitive thoughts. Preoccupations with specific kinds of objects or actions may be an early sign of obsession.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) according to the Diagnosis and Statistics Manual V (DSM-5) is the presence of obsessions; compulsions or both which are time-consuming (take more than 1 hour per day) or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; are not attributable to the physiological effect of a substance (e.g., drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition; the disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder such as repetitive patterns of behavior, as in autism spectrum disorder.

Occupational Therapy (OT) assists development of fine motor skills that aid in daily living. May focus on sensory issues, coordination of movement, balance and self-help skills such as dressing, eating with a fork, grooming, etc. May address visual perception and hand-eye coordination.

Occupational Therapist (OT) helps minimize impact of disability on independence in daily living by adapting child’s environment and teaching sub-skills of the missing developmental components.

Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and to promote education excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR serves student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems. An important responsibility is resolving complaints of discrimination. Agency-initiated cases, typically called compliance reviews, permit OCR to target resources on compliance problems that appear particularly acute. OCR also provides technical assistance to help institutions achieve voluntary compliance with the civil rights laws that OCR enforces. An important part of OCR’s technical assisting is partnerships designed to develop creative approaches to preventing and addressing discrimination.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a psychiatric behavior disorder that is characterized by aggressiveness and a tendency to purposefully bother or irritate others as a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior that persists for al least 6 months. Behaviors include the following: losing one’s temper, arguing with adults; actively defying requests; refusing to follow rules; deliberately annoying other people; blaming others for one’s own mistakes or misbehavior; being touchy, easily annoyed or angered, resentful, spiteful, or vindictive. These behaviors cause significant difficulties with family and friends and at school or work.

Oral Motor is relating to the movement of the muscles in and around the mouth.

Orthopedic Impairment (OI) refers to a student whose severe orthopedic impairments affect their education performance to the degree that the student requires special education. Includes impairment caused by congenital anomalies, e.g., deformity or absence of some member. Impairment caused by disease, e.g., poliomyelitis or bone tuberculosis. Impairment from other causes, e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures.

Orthopedist is a medical doctor who specialized in the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage.

Orthotics are devices used to immobilize part of the body in order to prevent deformity or to assist with function.

Other Health Impaired (OHI) means having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophelia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, Tourette’s Syndrome, and sickle cell anemia; and adversely affects the child’s educational performance.

Out-of-network Co-insurance is the percent (for example, 40%) you pay of the allowed amount for covered health care service to providers who do not contract with your health insurance or plan. Out-of-network co-insurance usually costs you more than in-network co-insurance.

Out-of-network Co-payment is a fixed amount (for example, $30) you pay for covered health care service from providers who do not contract with your health insurance or plan. Out-of-network co-payments usually are more than in-network co-payments.

Out-of-Pocket Limit is the most you pay during a policy period (usually a year) before your health insurance or plan begins to pay 100% fo the allowed amount. This limit never includes your premium, balance-billed charges or health care your health insurance to plan doesn’t cover. Some health insurance or plans don’t count all of your co-payments, deductibles, co-insurance payments, out-of-network payments or other expenses toward this limit.

Otolaryngologist is a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, treatment and surgery of ears, nose and throat.


Parent Training and Information Center is a government subsidized agency that works with professionals serving as well as families of children birth to age 26 who experience developmental disabilities. In Alaska, Stone Soup Group currently holds that funding source and responsibility.

Patient-Centered Approach is a partnership among practitioners, patients, and their families to ensure that decisions respect patients’ wants, needs, and preferences, and that patients have the education and support they need to make decisions and participate in their own care.

Pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in care for infants, children and adolescents.

Perseveration is repetitive movement or speech or sticking to one idea or task, that has a compulsive quality to it.

Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) is a group of conditions involving delays in development of many basic skills, including the ability to socialize with others, to communicate and use imagination. Includes ASD, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Rett Syndrome.

Physical Therapy (PT) uses specially designed exercises and equipment to help patients regain or improve their physical abilities.

Physical Therapist (PT) designs and implements physical therapy programs and may work within a hospital or clinic, in a school or as an independent practitioner.

Physician Services are health care services a licensed medical physician (M.D. — Medical Doctor or D.O. — Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) provides or coordinates.

Pica is persistent eating or mouthing of non-nutritive substances for at least one month when behavior is developmentally inappropriate (older than 18-24 months). Substances may include items such as clay, dirt, sand, pebbles, hair, feces, lead, laundry starch, wood, plastic and more.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is an alternative communication system (a type of assistive augmentative communication) using picture symbols taught in phases starting with simple exchange of symbol for a desired item. Individuals learn to use picture symbols to construct complete sentences, initiate communication and answer questions.

Pragmatics are social rules for using functional spoken language in a meaningful context or conversation. Challenges in pragmatics are a common feature of spoken language difficulties in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Pragmatic language disorders can be addressed and treated by a speech language pathologist (SLP) or a speech language therapist.

Primary Care Physician (PCP) is the medical doctor that is the patients primary care provider. This is the doctor the patient goes to for vaccinations, regular check ups, first physician seen for a new illness, etc.

Proprioception is the receiving of stimuli originating in muscles, tendons and other internal tissues.

Prosody is the rhythm and melody of spoken language expressed through rate, pitch, stress, infection or intonation. Some children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have unusual intonation (flat, monotonous, stiff or “sing songy” without emphasis on the important words).

Provider is a physician (M.D. — Medical Doctor or D.O. — Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), health care professional or health care facility licensed, certified or accredited as required by stat law.

Psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness often utilizing prescription medications to do so.

Psychologist is a professional who diagnosis and treats emotional disturbances and behavior problems. May have a master’s degree (M.A.) or a doctorate (Ph.D.) in psychology. May have other qualifications, including Board Certification and additional training in a specific type of therapy. 


Range of Motion describes the flexibility that allows the span of movement possible of joints like writs or hips.

Receptive Language is the ability to comprehend words and sentences and begins as early as birth and increased with each stage in development. By 12 moths of age, a child begins to understand words and responds to his or her name and may respond to familiar words in context. By 18 to 20 months, a child identifies familiar people by looking when named (e.g., “Where’s mommy?”), gives familiar objects when named (e.g., “Where’s the ball?”) And points to a few body parts (e.g., “Where’s your nose?”). These skills commonly emerge slightly ahead of expressive language skills. 

Reinforcement or reinforcer, is any object or event following a response, increasing or maintaining the rate of responding. Positive reinforcer may be produced by or added after a response.

Rehabilitation Services are health care services that help a person keep, get back or improve skills and functioning for daily living that have been lost or impaired because a person was sick, hurt or disabled. These services may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and psychiatric rehabilitation services in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.

Reverse Mainstreaming is when children who do not experience a disability go to the special education classroom to play and learn with children who are disabled.

Respite Care is temporary, short-term care provided to individuals with disabilities, delivered in the home for a few short hours or in an alternate licensed setting for an extended period of time. Respite care allows caregivers to take a break in order to relieve and prevent stress and fatigue.


Seizure refers to uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce a physical convulsion, minor physical signs, thought disturbances or a combination of symptoms.

Seizures, Subclinical (Electrographic Seizures) are visible on the EEG, but the patient does not exhibit clinical symptoms. Electroencephalagraphy often detects subclinical seizures during sleep.

Seizures, tonic clonic, involves two phases — tonic phase when body becomes rigid and colonic phase of uncontrolled jerking. May be preceded by aura and is often filled by headache, confusion and sleep. May last for seconds or continue for several minutes.

Self-Help Skills see adaptive skills.

Self-Regulation and self-control are related but not the same. Self-regulation refers to both conscious and unconscious processes that have an impact on self-control, but regulatory activities take place more or less constantly to allow us to participate in society, work and family life. Self-control is a conscious activity.

Self-Stimulatory Behavior are repetitive behaviors whose primary purpose appears to be to stimulate ones own senses. An example is rocking ones body, splining, hand flapping toe walking, echolalia. Many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) report that some ‘self stims’ may serve a regulator function for them (i.e., calming, concentration, shutting out overwhelming sound, etc.)

Sensory Defensiveness is a tendency, outside the norm, to react negatively or with alarm to sensory input which is generally considered harmless or non-irritating to others. Also called hypersensitivity.

Sensor Diet is a plan that includes specific activities designed to decrease sensory defensiveness.

Sensory Integration is the way the brain processes sensory stimulation or sensation from the body and then translates that information from the five classic senses (vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste), sense of movements (vestibular system) and positional sense (proprioception). Sensory information is sensed normally, but perceived abnormally. May be a disorder on its own or with other neurological conditions. Sensory integration disorders can be diagnosed and treated by an occupational therapist.

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with processing information from the five classic senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste), the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception). Sensory information is sensed normally, but perceived abnormally. This is not the same as blindness or deafness because sensory information is sensed but tends to be analyzed by the brain in an unusual way that may cause pain or confusion. Sensory integration disorder can be a disorder on its own, but it can also be a characteristic of other neurological conditions, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, pervasive developmental disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and speech delays, among many others. Unlike many other neurological problems that require validation by a licensed psychiatrist or physician, this condition can only be properly diagnosed by an occupational therapist. There is no known cure, however there are many treatments available.

Sensory Stimulus Agent, action or condition, internal (e.g., heart rate, temperature) or external (e.g., sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touch and balance) that elicits physiological or psychological response. Response depends on ability to regulate and understand stimuli and adjust emotions to demands of surroundings.

Skilled Nursing Care are services from licensed nurses in your own home or in a nursing home. Skilled care services are from technicians and therapists in your own home or in a nursing home.

Sleep Hygiene is a set of practices, habits and environmental factors critically important for sound sleep, such as minimizing noise, light and temperature extremes as well as maintaining a consistent routine such as going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time each day.

Specially Designed Instruction Section 504 is a civil rights statute that allows for a formal, written service plan be developed and put in place in the educational setting defining accommodations and modifications for a child with a disability. This is not and individual education plan (IEP).

Social Communication Disorder (SCD) is a diagnostic category established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-5) that applies to individuals who have deficits in the social use of language, but do not have the restricted interests or repetitive behavior you see in those with autism spectrum disorder.

Social Reciprocity is back-and-forth flow of social interaction. How behavior of one person influences and is influenced by behavior of another and vice versa.

Social Skills are the positive, appropriate, social behaviors needed to communicate and interact with others in a variety of different settings.

Social Stories, developed by Carol Gray, are simple stories that describe social events and situations that are difficult for a child with a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) to understand. For example, a social story might be written about birthday parties if the child appears to have a difficult time understanding what is expected of him or how he is supposed to behave at a birthday party.

Special Education is specially designed instruction, at no cost to families, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions and in other settings.

Speech-Language Pathologist, see speech-language therapist.

Speech-Language Therapist specializes in human communication. This includes verbal and nonverbal communication. The treatment is specific to the individual’s needs.

Splinter Skills describes skills that an individual may do very well despite not having mastered other skills that would be typical for someone of that age.

Spoken Language (the use of both depressive and receptive language) is the use of verbal behavior or speech, to communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings with others. Involves learning many levels of rules - combining sounds to make words, using conventional meanings of words, combining words into sentences and using words and sentences in following rules of conversation.

Stereotyped Behaviors refers to an abnormal or excessive repetition of an action carried out in the same way over time. May include repetitive movements or posturing of the body or objects.

Stereotyped Patterns of Interest or restricted patterns of interest refers to a patter of preoccupation with a narrow range of interests and activities.

Stimming, see self stimulatory behaviors.

Subclinical Seizure, see seizures.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal government program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits are also payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. People who have worked jobs that pay social security tax with each pay check long enough may also qualify without financial limits.

Symbolic Play is where children pretend to do things and to be something or someone else. Typically develops between the ages of 2 or 3 years. Also called make believe or pretend play.


Tactile Defensiveness is a strong negative response to a sensation that would not ordinarily be upsetting, such as touching something sticky or gooey or the feeling of soft foods in the mouth. Specific to touch. 

Theory of Mind (TOM) is a specific cognitive ability to understand others or interpret their minds. It is something that all people must develop in order to understand the minds of other people. It is called “theory” because we can never actually connect with another’s mind. There is no objective way to verify the contents of their consciousness or to assess their motivations and desires. Instead, when we interact with other people we can only guess at these things, using our TOM to work out what they know, think, or feel.

Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) is a type of Medicaid with an eligibility criteria based on age and disability not on household income.

Tonic-clonic Seizures, see seizures.

Typical Development describes physical, mental and social development of a child who is acquiring or achieving skills according to the expected time frame. Typically developing children pay attention to voices, faced and actions of others, showing and sharing pleasure during interactions and engaging in verbal and nonverbal back-and-forth communication.


Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) is the amount paid for a medical service in a geographic area based on what providers in that area usually charge for the same or similar medical service. The UCR amount sometimes in used to determine the allowed amount.


Vestibular System refers to the body’s system for maintaining equilibrium.

504 Plan, see specially designed instruction section 504.