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Knowledge is Power!  Below are several informal definitions of many of the terms and acronyms used by educators when working with other professionals or parents of children with special needs. Parents of children with disabilities should be familiar with these terms and acronyms in order to actively participate in their child’s education

ABA-Applied Behavior Analysis


ACCESS-Plastic identification card issued to Medical Assistance recipients.


ADA-Americans with Disabilities Act


ADD-Attention deficit disorder


ADHD-Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


AIDS-Acquired immune deficiency syndrome


APS-Approved Private School


ASD-Autism spectrum disorder


ASL-American sign language


AT-Assistive Technology


Assistive Technology Device-Equipment used to maintain or improve the capabilities of a child

with a disability.


AVT-Area vocational technical school


AYP-Annual Yearly Progress


BD-Behavior disordered


BEC-Basic Education Circular


BIP-Behavior Intervention Plan


COP-Communities of Practice


Due Process Hearing-An administrative hearing before an impartial hearing officer


EDGAR-Education Department General Administrative Regulations


EHA-Education for All Handicapped Children Act. It was renamed in 1990 to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  In the 2004 revisions, it was renamed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA’04)


Early Intervention-Special education and related services according to IDEA provided to children under the age of 5.


ED-Emotionally disturbed


EI-Early intervention


EPSDT-Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment


ER-Evaluation Report


ESEA-Elementary and Second Education Act


ESL-English as a Second Language


ESOL-English to Speakers of Other Languages


ESY-extended school year


FAPE-free appropriate public education


FBA-Functional Behavioral Assessment


FERPA-Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA deals with confidentiality and access

to student records


HI-Hearing Impaired


IAES-Interim Alternative Educational Setting


ICC-Interagency Coordinating Council


IDEA-Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act – federal law that protects children with disabilities right to a free appropriate public education.


IEE-Independent Educational Evaluation – if a parent disagrees with the results of the evaluation the school district performed they can request an IEE.


IEP-Individualized education plan – must be conducted yearly – an extremely important document stating what level the child is currently learning in, his strengths and weaknesses, what is expected in the next year, how they intend to educate the child and related services.


IFSP-Individualized family service plan – must be conducted bi-yearly for special needs children from 0-3 yrs. of age – an extremely important document stating what level the child is currently learning in, his strengths and weaknesses, what is expected in the next year, how they will assist the family in order to ensure that the child is benefiting from his/her educational services and/or placement, and related services.


Inclusion-The practice of educating children with special needs in regular education classrooms in their neighborhood schools


IQ-Intelligence quotient. An IQ score is an artificial number that is used to indicate levels of mental development, not to be confused with persons capabilities.


LD-Learning disabled


LEA-Local education agency


LEP-Limited English Proficiency


LRE-Least restrictive environment. LRE is the concept of educating children with disabilities in an

educational environment that allows them to participate to the maximum extent possible with their non-disabled peers.


LTF-Local Task Force


MA-Medical Assistance


Mainstreaming-The practice of placing children with disabilities in regular education classrooms to the maximum extent possible.


MAWA-Mutually Agreed Upon Written Agreement


MD-Multiple Disabilities


MDE-Multidisciplinary Evaluation


MDT-Multidisciplinary Team


Mediation-A meeting to resolve issues between school and home amicably, for it is voluntary

thusly both parties must agree to it.


MR-Mentally retarded


NCLB-No Child Left Behind


NOREP-Notice of Recommended Educational Placement – is issued after an IEP meeting and states type of placement and level of service to be provided, parents must sign for their approval or disapproval.


OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder



ODD-Oppositional Defiant Disorder


ODR-Office for Dispute Resolution


OHI-Other health impaired


OSEP-Office of Special Education Programs


OT-Occupational Therapy - therapy for fine motor skills


OVR-Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


PASA-Pennsylvania Alternative System of Assessment – for children who can not because of their sever disabilities take the PSSA.  (Grades 3, 5, 8, & 11)


PBI-Positive Behavioral Interventions


PDD-Pervasive Developmental Disorder


P.L. 94-142-The original public law number of the EHA.


PSSA-Pennsylvania System of School Assessment – All children are tested, including special education children, must make accommodations for child to participate. (Math & Reading at grades:3,5,8,& 11, Writing at grades: 5,8, & 11) If a child can’t participate then the PASA should be administered.


PT-Physical Therapy - Therapy for gross motor skills



Reasonable Accommodation-An adoption of a facility or program for a child with a disability that can be accomplished without undue administrative or financial burden


Related Services-Services to supplement special education, such as counseling services, behavioral therapy, and occupational therapy.


Resolution Session-According to IDEA’04 must be requested before a Due Process can be requested.  The parties (parents & school) try to resolve the issues amicably.


Resource Room-A special education placement that is provided in conjunction with or as a supplement to a child’s regular education program.


SDI-Specially Designed Instruction


SEA-State Education Agency


Section 504-Part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that provides that program recipients that receive federal funds can not discriminate on the basis of a child’s disability.


SED-Seriously emotionally disturbed


SDI-Specially Designed Instruction - modification or changes to the general curriculum instruction necessary to implement the goals, benchmarks, and objectives of a child’s IEP.


SLD-Specific Learning Disability


Special Education-Educational programs and placements provided according to IDEA


TBI-Traumatic Brain Injury


Transition Services-A service to facilitate movement from school to the workplace or high education that must be included in the IEP at the age of 16.


TMR-Trainable mentally retarded


TTY-Teletypewriter


VAAS-Value Added Assessment System


VI-Visually Impaired



Special Education Acronyms and Terminology