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Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with Sensory Integration - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with Speech Therapy (pdf version) - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with Special Education (pdf version) - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Medical Terms Associated with Special Education (pdf version) - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with Psychological Evaluations (pdf version) - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with the Employment of People with Disabilities (pdf version) - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with Managed Care (pdf version) - click here.


Specialty Glossary by Calvin & Tricia Luker: A Family Guide to Common Terms Associated with Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy (pdf version) - click here.



Acalculia - Loss of ability in using mathematical symbols due to brain injury.

Accommodation - Refers to any alteration of existing facilities or procedures to make them readily accessible to persons with disabilities.

Acoustic - Pertaining to the perception of sound.

Active listening - Refers to the responsibility on the part of the listener to interact appropriately with the speaker and the speaker's message in order to maximize comprehension.

ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act

ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder

Adenoids - Growths of lymphoid tissue on the back wall of the throat (nasopharynx).

ADHD - Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder

Affricate - A consonantal sound beginning as a stop but expelled as a fricative.  The ch and j sounds in the words chain and jump are affricates.

Age of Majority - The age that the state has determined a person is able to make decisions on his/her own (usually age 18) unless determined incompetent to do so by a court of law.

Agnosia - Loss of ability to interpret the meanings of sensory stimulation; due to brain injury; may be visual, auditory or tactual.

AI - Autistic Impaired

Air wastage -The use of silent exhalation before or after phonation on a single breath.

Allergy - Extreme sensitivity to certain proteins.

Alveolar - The ridges on the jaw bones beneath the gums.  An alveolar sound is one in which the tongue makes contact with the upper gum ridge.

Annual Goals - A set of general statements which represent expected achievement over a year's time for handicapped persons enrolled in special education programs and services.

Anoxia - Oxygen deficiency.

Anticonvulsant - Preventing or arresting seizures; an agent having such action

Antidepressant - Counteracting depression; an agent used in treating depression

Antiexpectancy - A group of devices used by the stutterer to distract himself from the expectation of stuttering.

Antihypertensive - Indicating a drug of mode of treatment that reduces the blood pressure of hypertensive individuals.

Antihypotensive - Any measure of medication that tends to raise reduced blood pressure.

Anxiety - a condition of worry, tension, or uneasiness produced by the anticipation of some danger whose source may be largely unknown.

Aphasia - Impairment in the use of meaningful symbols due to brain injury.

Aphonia - Loss of voice.

Approach-avoidance - Refers to conflicts produced when the person is beset by two opposing drives to do or not to do something.

Approximation - Behavior which comes closer to a standard or goal.

Apraxia - Loss of ability to make voluntary movements or to use tools meaningfully; due to brain injury.

Articulation - Refers to the production of sounds through the precise positioning and rapid movement of the various components of the oral cavity in relation to one another.

Atypical - Not typical; not corresponding to the normal form or type.

Aspirate - Breathy; the use of excessive initial airflow preceding phonation as in the aspirate attack.

Assimilation - A change in the characteristics of a speech sound due to the influence of adjacent sounds.

Asymmetry - Unequal proportionate size of the right and left halves of a structure.

Atrophy - A withering; a shrinking in size and decline in function of some bodily structure or organ.

Ataxia - Loss of ability to perform gross motor coordination.

Atresia - The blockage of an opening or canal.

Audible - Refers to a sound which is capable of being heard.

Auditory memory span - The ability to recall a series of test sounds, syllables, or words.

Auditory system - Refers to the outer, middle, and inner ear, as well as the neural pathway which conducts sound to the brain for perception and interpretation.

Aural - Pertaining to hearing.

Auricle - The visible outer ear.

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Babbling - A continuous, free experimenting with speech sounds.

Basal Fluency Level - The period of communication in which no stuttering appears.

Bicuspid - The fourth and fifth teeth, each of which has two cusps or points.

Bifid - Divided into two parts, as in a cleft or bifid uvula.

Binaural - Pertaining to both ears.

Bradylalia - Abnormally slow utterance.

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Catastrophic Response - A sudden change in behavior by the alphasic characterized by extreme irritability, flushing or fainting, withdrawal or random movements.

Categorical Classroom - A classroom program usually designed to meet the common needs of students who have the same impairment.

CBE - Community-based Education

CBI - Community-based Instruction

CHADD - Support organization for children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

CIL - Center for Independent Living

Classroom Instruction - Instruction in physical education, Instructional services such as preprimary, teacher consultant, speech and language, homebound and hospitalized, and juvenile detention facilities, Ancillary and other related services such as occupational, physical, recreational, music, art or other therapy, mobility and orientation, school psychological and school social work services.

Clavicular Breathing - A form of shallow, gasping speech-breathing in which the shoulder blades move with the short inhalations.

Cluttering - A disorder of time or rhythm characterized by unorganized, hasty spurts of speech often accompanied by slurred articulation.

CMH - Community Mental Health

Cochlea - The spiral-shaped structure of the inner ear containing the end organs of the auditory nerve.

Cognate - Referring to pairs of sounds which are produced motorically in much the same way, one being voiced and the other unvoiced.  Some cognants are t and d, s and z.

Complaint - A specific written and signed allegation by an agency, private individual, or organization that there is an uncorrected violation, misinterpretation or misapplication of the law, the state or intermediate school district plan, an individualized education program, or hearing officer or court decision.

Comprehension - Refers to one's ability to understand speech and language in any form.

Comprehensive Evaluation - A series of tests and observations, formal and informal, conducted for the purpose of determining eligibility for special education and related services, and for determining the current level of education performance.

Compulsion is an irresistible impulse to perform a certain action again and again.

Consent - A written agreement to carry out an activity after being fully informed in one's native language of all information relevant to the activity.

CP - Cerebral Palsy

Corticosteroid - A steroid produced by the adrenal cortex; a corticoid containing a steroid

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DCH - Department of Community Health

DD - Developmental Disability

DDC - Developmental Disabilities Council (the agency in each state authorized by the Federal Developmental Disabilities Act).

Decibel - A unit of sound intensity.

Delayed Auditory Feedback - The return of one's own voice as an echo.

Delusion - the false belief that a person maintains in spite of evidence that proves it untrue.

Detoxification - Recovery from the toxic effects of a drug; removal of of the toxic properties from a poison; metabolic conversion of pharmacologically active principles to pharmacologically less active principles.

Developmental Disability - A disability that is acquired during the period the person is developing, generally before age 21 or at birth, and that significantly impacts several life activity areas such as self-care, self-direction, learning, mobility, speech, and independent living.

Diadochokinesis - The maximum speed of a rhythmically repeated movement.

Differential Diagnosis - The process of distinguishing one disorder from another.

Diphthong - Two adjacent vowels within the same syllable which blend together.

Dysarthria - Articulation disorders produced by peripheral or central nerve damage.

Dyslalia - Functional disorders of articulation.

Dyspepsia - Impaired gastric function or "upset stomach" due to some disorder of the stomach; characterized by epigastric pain, sometimes burning, nausea, and gaseous eructation.

Dysphasia - The general term for aphasic problems.

Dysphemia - A poorly timed control mechanism for coordinating sequential utterance.

Dysphonias - Disorders of voice.

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Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) - Mandatory medicaid health benefits and services for Medicaid-eligible children and adolescents. Designed to ensure children's access to early and comprehensive preventive care and treatment. The state Medicaid agency is required to pay for and make sure that providers deliver EPSDT services.

Echolalia - The automatic, involuntary repetition of heard phrases and sentences.

EEG (Electroencephalogram) - The record of brain waves of electrical potential.  Used in diagnosing various pathologies and diseases such as epilepsy.

EI - Emotionally Impaired

Eligibility - A set of rules that determine whether students are qualified to receive services based on the nature and severity of the disability, income, or other characteristics.

Embolism - A clogging of a blood vessel as by a clot.

EMI - Educable Mentally Impaired

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Falsetto - Usually the upper and unnatural range of a male voice produced by differential type of laryngeal functioning.

FAPE - Free Appropriate Public Education

FIA - Department of Human Services

Free Appropriate Public Education - The requirements introduced by the EHA of 1975, that requires schools to provide and education relevant to the needs of students with disabilities. The courts have generally stated that appropriateness does not mean optimal, only that the student is progressing at a reasonable rate.

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Glottal Catch - A tiny cough-like sound produced by the sudden release of a pulse of voiced or unvoiced air from the vocal folds.

Gutteral Voice - A low-pitched falsetto.

Glottal Fry - A ticker-like continuous clicking sound produced by the vocal cords.

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Hallucination is the perception of something that is not actually present.

Harelip - The cleft of the upper lip.

Handicapped Person - A person determined by an individualized educational planning committee (IEPC) or a hearing officer to have a characteristic or set of characteristics as defined in the descriptions of the handicapping conditions (autistic; emotionally impaired; hearing impaired; mentally impaired; physically and otherwise health impaired; severely multiply impaired, specific learning disability, speech and language impaired; and visually impaired) and who, because of the impairment, needs special education or related services.

Health and Human Services (HHS) - Federal department in which many health-related agencies are housed; also called DHHS.

Hemiplegia - Paralysis or neurological involvement of one side of the body.

HI - Hearing Impaired

Hyperactivity - Excessive and often random movements as often shown by a brain-injured child.

Hypernasality - Excessively nasal voice quality.

Hyperprolactinemia - Elevated levels of prolactin in the blood, which is a normal physiological reaction during lactation, but pathological otherwise; prolactin may also be elevated in cases of certain pituitary tumors, and Amenorrhea is often present.

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IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Idioglossia - Self-language with a vocabulary invented by the child.

IEP - Individualized Educational Program

IFSP - Individual Family Service Plan

Impaired Related Work Expense - Certain expenses for things a person with a disability needs because of his/her impairment in order to work, may be deducted when determining eligibility for SSDI or SSI.

Incidence - Frequency of occurrence.

Inclusion - The process of including students with disabilities in the environments, activities, and curriculum of typical students and persons. Inclusion may mean different things to different people. Sometimes used interchangeably with the term "integration".

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) - An evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner's) who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the student. A contracted agent, for the purpose of conducting an independent evaluation, is not consider an employee of the public agency.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) - A learning program developed by an individualized educational planning committee. This program is reviewed annually.

Individualized Educational Planning Committee (IEPC) - Persons appointed and invited by the superintendent to determine a person's eligibility for special education programs and services. If eligible and in need of special education programs and services, the committee develops an individualized education program.

Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) - The federal special education law that describes and protects students with disabilities. An updated version of the Education of All Handicapped Children's Act (EHA) which first required the statement of needed transition services as part of the IEP in 1990.

Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) - In the federal government and in the states, this group plans and oversees Part C, the early childhood component of IDEA. Its members represent many different agencies and must include a significant number of parents. Also, LICC (local), RICC (regional), and SICC (state).

ISD - Intermediate School District

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Jargon - Continuous but unintelligible speech.

Job Trainer - In supported employment, generally a paraprofessional who provides on-site job training and support to a worker with a disability. Sometimes used interchangeably with employment specialist of job coach.

Job Shadowing - The practice of allowing a student to observe a real work setting to determine their interest and to acquaint them with the requirements of the job.

Job Sharing - The practice of having two or more persons share a job to provide accommodations in work scheduling or job duties.

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Kinesthesia - The perception of muscular contraction or movement.

Kinetic Analysis - The analysis of error sounds in terms of the movement patterns.

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LD - Learning Disability

Least Restrictive Environment - Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the requirement in federal law that requires that children with disabilities receive their education, to the maximum extent appropriate, with non-disabled peers and that special education pupils are not removed from regular classes unless, even with supplemental aids and services, education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily. [20 United States Code (U.S.C.) Sec. 1412(a)(5)(A).]

Lisp - An articulatory disorder characterized by defective sibilant sounds such as the s and z.

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Major depression - A mental disorder characterized by feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

Malocclusion - An abnormal bite.

Managed Care - A way to finance and deliver health care for a set fee using a defined network of services and providers. The organizations that deliver managed care are known as MCOs (Managed Care Organizations), HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations), PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations), and other various organizations.

Mandible - lower jaw

Mania - A mental disorder that involves extreme optimism and excessive energy, often accompanied by uncontrollable irritability and anger.

Maxilla - upper jaw

MDE, OSE/EIS - Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services

Median - Midline; in the middle.

Medicaid - The federal law that uses state and federal funds to provide health insurance for people who meet certain eligibility standards, including children.

Medicaid Waiver - Some Medicaid rules regarding income and other standards can be "waived" or dismissed in order to provide Medicaid coverage to certain groups of individuals, including children.

Medical Necessity - Legal term that determines what health services are provided and/or paid for.

Medicare - An insurance program serving persons 65 and older and individuals with disabilities regardless of their income if they are eligible for SSDI.

Mental Health Service - Services provided to persons with significant behavioral or mood disorders that are not related to mental retardation or developmental disabilities.

MET - Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team

Mood disorder is a mental illness that mainly affects a person’s mood.

MSW - Masters in Social Work

Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) - A minimum of two persons who are responsible for conducting a comprehensive evaluation of students suspected of being handicapped or handicapped persons being reevaluated.

Mutism - Without speech.

Myasthenia - Muscular weakness.

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Nonverbal - Refers to communication which takes place without spoken words.  Can include drawings, sign language, pointing to pictures or symbols, gestures, facial expressions, etc.

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Obsession - A recurring thought that a person considers senseless or terrible but cannot ignore.

Occupational Therapist (OT) - A person qualified to develop and implement programs to develop fine motor skills and skills and accommodations related to work and daily living.

Opioid - Originally, a term denoting synthetic narcotics resembling opiates but increasingly used to refer to both opiates and synthetic narcotics.

Orthostatic Hypotension - Drop in blood pressure when standing up

OSEP - Office of Special Education Programs

OSERS - Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services

OT - Occupational Therapy/Therapist

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P&A - Protection and Advocacy

PA 451 - Michigan Special Education Regulations

PAC - Parent Advisory Committee

PANDAS - Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders with Streptococcal Infection

Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) - A committee made up of parents of handicapped persons from each local educational agency within the intermediate school district. The Parent Advisory Committee is responsible to participate in the development of the intermediate school district plan and to advise on matters relating to special education programs and services.

Part C - Refers to the early childhood part of IDEA, the federal special education law

PE - Physical Education

Phobia means a strong, unreasonable fear of a particular object or situation.

Physical Therapist (PT) - A person qualified to develop and implement programs to develop fine and gross motor skills and rehabilitation services to persons with physical disabilities.

POHI - Physically and Otherwise Health Impaired

Post Secondary Programs - Programs that occur after high school (secondary education)

PPI - Pre-Primary Impaired

Proficiency Tests - Tests that are designed to determine if students are measuring up to educational standards set by the state and/or district.

Psychologist - A person who is qualified to assess an individual's emotional, intellectual, and coping skills and provide counseling or interventions to improve them.

Psychiatrist - A medical doctor who can assess an individual's emotional, intellectual, and coping skills and who typically provides medical interventions or medications to improve those skills.

Psychosis - A mental and behavioral disorder causing gross distortion or disorganization of a person's mental capacity, affective response, and capacity to recognize reality, communicate, and relate to others to the degree of interfering with the person's capacity to cope with the ordinary demands of everyday life.

Psychostimulant - An agent with antidepressant or mood-elevating properties

PT - Physical Therapy/Therapist

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Referral - The process of notifying an agency to request services. A referral is often followed by an eligibility determination.

Related Services - Services that are provided as a supplement to an educational program and are required for the student to receive FAPE. Speech, language, hearing, social work, and psychology services are examples of related services.

Rhinitis - Inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane

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Schizophrenia - a severe mental disorder characterized by psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations. These symptoms are accompanied by a significant decline in the ability to function in many areas, including work school and relationships with other people.

School-to-Work Programs - Refers to general education secondary programs developed under the School-to-Work Opportunity Act of 1994 that includes career education, work-based instruction experiences, and efforts to connect students with vocational and post school programs.

Self-Advocacy - The ability and opportunity to speak on behalf of one's self

Self-Determination - The ability and the opportunity for students to make decisions for themselves

Short-Term Instructional Objectives - Objectives written in measurable terms which relate to the annual goals and represent expected achievement over several weeks or month but not more than one year.

SLI - Speech and Language Impaired

SMI - Severely Mentally Impaired

Somnolence - An inclination to sleep; sleepiness

Special Education - Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique educational needs of the special education student, and develop the maximum potential of the special education student.

SSA - Social Security Administration

SSDI - Social Security Disability Insurance

SSI - Supplemental Security Income

SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor

Steroid - "Anabolic steroids" is the familiar name for synthetic substances related to the male sex hormones (androgens). They promote the growth of skeletal muscle (anabolic effects) and the development of male sexual characteristics (androgenic effects), and also have some other effects.

Supplemental Security Income - The Social Security Administration Children's SSI Program provides monthly cash benefits to certain individuals who qualify and requires that children pass strict disability and income standards.

SXI - Severely Multiply Impaired

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Tachycardia - An extremely rapid heart rate, usually signified by a pulse rate of over 100 beats per minute (bpm)

TC - Teacher Consultant

Teacher Consultant (TC) - A certified special education teacher who provides support services to handicapped students and provides consultation to the regular classroom teacher and parents. The teacher consultant does not grade, give credit or teach a regular or special education course.

Tic - Brief, rapid, repetitive movements often resembling nervous mannerisms

Title V/CSHCN (Children with Special Health Care Needs) Program - Every state has an agency responsible for children with special health care needs. The agencies have different names in each state, but all are referred to as Title V/CSHCN programs.

TMI - Trainable Mentally Impaired

Transition - The process of moving from adolescence to adult roles where the child reconciles their needs, interests, and preferences with adult norms and rules.

Transition Plan - Also known as the "Statement of Needed Transition Services" or "Individual Transition Plan". The IEP/Transition Plan states what services, support, and activities will be provided to students to help them reach their career goals.

Transition Planning - The process of helping students and their families plan services to help them reach career goals and adult living objectives related to their needs, interests, and preferences. The IDEA requires transition planning activities documented in the IEP for students age 16 and older.

Transition Planning Inventory - An inventory approach that focuses on student skill and support needs in the areas of: a) employment, b) further education, c) daily living, d) leisure activities, e) community participation, f) health, g) self-determination, h) communication, and i) interpersonal relationships.

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Unconscious - the state of being unaware of thoughts and feelings that one may have.

University Affiliated Program (UAP) - Under the Federal Developmental Disabilities Act, Universities are encouraged to create programs to train practitioners and research disability issues. Most states have a UAP.

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VI - Visually Impaired

VR - Vocational Rehabilitation

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WISC - Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children

Work Incentives - A number of Social Security work incentives that allow a person to exclude part of their income to maintain eligibility for SSI or SSDI. Includes PASS, IRWEs, Student Earned Income Exclusion, and extended eligibility for Medicaid.

Work Study - Competitive employment found by the high schools where the student receives pay and credit toward graduation.

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