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School Success Library
Here you will find a list of local educational resources, from development centers to advocacy groups to family support centers. There are also contacts for specialized medical and mental services, as well as recreation that is designed for participants with special needs.
To walk the walk, you need to talk the talk. To help get you up to speed, here is a glossary of special education terms. Learn these terms and you can decipher even the most complex playbook for learning!
504 Plan: A plan that specifies the accommodations and modifications necessary for a student with a disability to attend school with her or his peers.
Accommodations: Changes that allow a person with a disability to participate fully in an activity. Examples include: extended time, different test format, and alterations to a classroom.
Adapted Physical Education (APE): Specially designed physical education program, using accommodations designed to fit the needs of students who require developmental or corrective instruction in PE.
Assessment or Evaluation: Term used to describe the testing and diagnostic processes leading up to the development of an appropriate IEP for a student with special education needs.
Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): Special education term used to describe the written plan used to address problem behavior that includes positive behavioral interventions, strategies and support. May include program modifications and supplementary aids and services.
Extended School Year Services (ESY): An extended school year is a component of special education services for students with unique needs who require services in excess of the regular academic year. Extended year often refers to summer school.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Special education term outlined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to define the written document that states the disabled child’s goals, objectives and services for students receiving special education.
Occupational Therapists: Provide consultation and support to staff to improve a student’s educational performance related to fine motor, gross motor and sensory integration development.
Physical Therapists: Provide consultation and support to staff to improve a student’s educational performance related to functional gross motor development.
School Psychologist: Assist in the identification of intellectual, social and emotional needs of students. They provide consultation and support to families and staff regarding behavior and conditions related to learning. They plan programs to meet the special needs of children and often serve as a facilitator during an IEP meeting.
Twice Exceptional means a gifted and talented student with a co-occurring disability.
Conditions That Impact Learning
ADD/ADHD: Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are medical conditions characterized by a child’s inability to focus, while possessing impulsivity, fidgeting and inattention.
Asperger’s Syndrome: A type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that involves delays in the development of basic skills, including socializing, coordination and the ability to communicate.
Auditory, Memory and Processing Disabilities: A sensory disability in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision. ADP affects the interpretation of all sounds coming into the brain (e.g., processing sound in noisy backgrounds or the sequence of sounds or where they come from).
Autism: A brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Signs usually begin before a child is 3 years old.
Deaf-Blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.
Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Developmental Delay for a child aged 3-9 (or any subset of that range) is defined by the State and measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedure in one or more of the following areas: physical development; cognitive development; communication development; social or emotional development; or adaptive development.
Dyscalculia: A mathematical disability in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.
Dysgraphia: A writing disability in which a person finds it difficult to form letters or write within a defined space.
Dyslexia: A language based disability in which a person has trouble understanding words, sentences or paragraphs.
Dyspraxia: A speech disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to correctly pronounce sounds, syllables and words. The area of the brain that tells the muscles how to move and what to do to make a particular sound or series of sounds is damaged or not fully developed.
Emotional Disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance: 1) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. 2) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. 3) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances 4) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression 5) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.
Executive functions (also known as cognitive control and supervisory attentional system) is an umbrella term for the management of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving as well as planning and execution.
Gifted and Talented means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.
Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.
Intellectual Disability means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
A language processing disorder (LPD) is not the same as an auditory processing disorder (APD). In an LPD, children will have trouble understanding and making sense of the words they hear, such as directions.
Multiple Disabilities means concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness or mental retardation-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities do not include deaf-blindness.
Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s education performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).
Other Health Impairment (OHI) means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the education environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Reading Comprehension is the ability to read text, process it and understand its meaning. An individual’s ability to comprehend text is influenced by their traits and skills, one of which is the ability to make inferences. If word recognition is difficult, students use too much of their processing capacity to read individual words, which interferes with their ability to comprehend what is read. There are a number of approaches to improve reading comprehension, including improving one’s vocabulary and reading strategies.
Sensory Processing Disorder: A complex brain disorder that causes a child to misinterpret everyday sensory information like movement, sound and touch. Children with SPD may seek out intense sensory experiences or feel overwhelmed with information.
Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairment in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.
Visual impairments, including blindness, means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
A visual processing, or perceptual, disorder refers to a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. This is different from problems involving sight or sharpness of vision. Difficulties with visual processing affect how visual information is interpreted, or processed by the brain.
Mental Health Conditions
Anxiety in Children: Defined as extreme agitation, filled with tension and dread. Anxiety is different than fear. Children with anxiety may or may not qualify for special education. Those who need modifications to their school day can achieve this through a 504 plan.
Asperger’s Disorder is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.
Bipolar Disorders: Characterized by cycles of mania alternating with depression. It is difficult to diagnose children with this disorder and it is often controversial.
Conduct Disorder is a psychological disorder diagnosed in childhood or adolescence that presents itself through a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major, age-appropriate norms are violated. These behaviors are often referred to as “antisocial behaviors.”
Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. For the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, these feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with everyday life.
Eating Disorders are illnesses that cause serious disturbances to an everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spiraled out of control. Severe distress or concern about body weight or shape may also signal an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is an anxiety disorder that presents itself as recurrent, persistent obsessions or compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive ideas, thoughts or images while compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the child feels they must perform.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): A child who defies authority by disobeying, talking back, arguing or being hostile in a way that is excessive compared to other children and this pattern continues for more than six months may be determined to have ODD. ODD often occurs with other behavioral problems such as ADHD, learning disabilities and anxiety disorders.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) and Autism Spectrum refer to a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills. Most notable among them are the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. Children with these conditions often are confused in their thinking and generally have problems understanding the world around them.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Cerebral Palsy: A series of motor problems and physical disorders related to brain injury. CP causes uncontrollable reflex movements and muscle tightness and may cause problems in balance and depth perception. Severe cases can result in mental retardation, seizures or vision and hearing problems.
Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder (neurological disorder) in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness.
Leukemia is cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.
Lymes Disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes ticks, also known as deer ticks, and on the West Coast, black-legged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. Patients with Lyme disease are frequently misdiagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and various psychiatric illnesses, including depression.
Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS) describes a hypothesis that there exists a subset of children with rapid onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or tic disorders and these symptoms are caused by group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal (GABHS)
Pott Disease or Pott’s Disease is a form of tuberculosis that occurs outside of the lungs whereby disease is seen in the spinal vertebrae.
Sickle Cell Anemia is an inherited form of anemia—a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body.
Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.
Tuberculosis can affect several tissues outside of the lungs including the spine, a kind of tuberculous arthritis of the intervertebral joints.
Turner’s Syndrome: This rare genetic disorder affects females and is characterized by the absence of an X chromosome. Characteristics include small stature, limited development of sexual characteristics, low hairline and abnormal eye and bone development.
Ask the Experts
School Success Library