Definitions of Words Used in Education

Advocate
An individual who defends and speaks for the best interests of the child.
Assessment
An observation and/or tests designed to determine the child's abilities in specific areas.
Assistive Technology, Non-medical and Medical
Equipment and strategies to assist disabled persons in the performance of self-care, work, play/leisure activities, or physical exercise.
Non-medical assistive technology devices and services are mandated by Public Law 100-407, the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988. The legislation defines an assistive technology device as “any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”. The most common types of non-medical assistive technology are hearing aids, wheelchairs, and computers.
A medical assistive technology device replaces or augments inadequate vital body functions. These devices include oxygen supplementation, mechanical respirators, cardiac and respiratory monitors, tube feedings, and IV therapy.
Autism
This is a brain-based developmental disability. The autistic child has deviations from normal developmental patterns. These disturbances are in delayed and abnormal language, cognition, inability to relate to people, and stereotyped, repetitive behaviors. Autism is a syndrome or group of clinical symptoms that leads to a diagnosis.
Congenital
Refers to a condition that originated prior to birth.
Developmental Disability
Any mental and/or physical disability that begins or appears before age 22 and may continue indefinitely. It can limit major life activities. The term includes individuals with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy (and other seizure disorders), sensory impairments, congenital disabilities, traumatic injuries, or conditions caused by disease, such as polio and muscular dystrophy. The educational identification of Developmental Disability is only available to students up to the age of 10.
Disability
Inability or limitation in performing tasks, activities, and roles considered normal for a person of the same age, gender, culture, and education. It may refer to a physical, mental, or sensory condition.
Early Intervention (EI)
Public Law 99-457 provides federal dollars to each state for planning programs for children age birth to three who have special needs or are at risk for development delays. If Public Law 99-457 is fully implemented within the state, direct services will be provided to this population. In New Hampshire, children identified as having special needs will have an Individual Family Service Plan developed, which identifies all special needs.
Educational Objectives
Accomplishments or tasks set for the child's education. They must be written in a manner that allows progress to be measured.
Emotionally Disturbed
A term used to describe a person's disordered behavior. Emotional disturbances may limit a child's ability to adapt, learn, develop socially, and become independent.
Evaluation
Assessment of the problems and capabilities of an individual. Also includes recommendations for dealing with the problems.
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
A personalized curriculum that incorporates the student's individualized needs, interests, and abilities. The plan is developed with input from both the child's family and school personnel. It should include teaching goals and strategies, targeted student behaviors, and evaluation criteria. The plan should be reviewed frequently and updated as needed.
Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP)
A plan developed jointly by a team of early intervention professionals and parents to address the needs of a disabled child (0 to 3 years old). The IFSP must include goals and objectives, identify resources, outline steps to be taken to reach stated objectives, and identify a service coordinator.
In-Service
Teacher education workshops or meetings organized by the school team.
Learning Disability
This is a generic term that refers to a group of disorders that are demonstrated by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or mathematical abilities. The most common way to determine the existence of a specific learning disability is to demonstrate a significant difference between a child's potential to learn, or IQ, and his or her actual achievement. A learning disability can occur together with other disabling conditions such as hearing or sight problems, mental retardation, and emotional disturbance, but it is not the direct result of these conditions.
Medically Necessary
A term used in insurance policies to identify covered services. Insurance companies limit coverage to services they deem medically necessary. It is very important to identify how your coverage plan defines this term. The definition may be included in your policy. If not, send a written request for information on how the company decides on medical necessity. Stipulate that you want the response in writing. The information will help you to present your request in the most appropriate way.
Mental Retardation
Below-average intellectual functioning causing impairment in the individual's ability to adapt to the environment. Mental retardation is caused by an injury, disease, or abnormality that existed before age 18. The most common presentation of mental retardation is the failure to achieve age-appropriate developmental skills.
Neuropsychologist
This is a psychologist who specializes in defining the relationships between a person's brain and his/her behavior in the world. The neuropsychologist can evaluate how the brain injury affects the child's ability to learn, communicate, plan, organize, and relate to others. These professionals use a variety of tests to understand how the brain injury affects the child's ability to function. An assessment by a neuropsychologist aids educators in developing educational programming.
Psychologist
A professional who provides treatment for an individual with an emotional disorder. The psychologist provides counseling, including adjustment to disability through cognitive retraining, management of behavior, and development of coping skills.
Referral
The process of directing a child to a facility or professional for services.
Special Education
Individualized instruction that meets the specific needs of the child.
Transition Planning
Preparing and assisting in the move from one phase of life to another. It may refer to changing grades in school, going from school to work, or from living at home to living independently in the community. Preparing to change grades includes planning how to share information between past and future teachers.
Vocational Program
A program which offers employment services which may include vocational evaluation, skill training, work adjustment, job training, job placement, job coaching, and sheltered and/or supported employment.