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# A B C E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


504 Plans

In the education setting, a 504 plan specifies the accommodations and modifications needed for a disabled student to ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. 

The 504 plan is named from Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and ensures that all disabled students have equal access to public education. 

504 plans are different from the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), in that they are provided to disabled students who do not need additional support in specialized instruction (special education) and goals (like IEP goals).



Adjustments or changes to how the student learns the content & material. Accommodations can be different across settings, environments, and teachers, as well as can be different between teaching and testing.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Personal everyday activities that include showering/bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, mobility, and transferring (e.g., moving from bed to chair). Frequently referred to as personal care, self-care, independent living, daily living, and life skills.

Adult Day Services

Programming for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) - as well as for older adults - based in the community. They offer a variety of activities to promote social, physical, and emotional well being. Also often referred to as day program or adult day care in information provided by state resources. Described as daytime respite for caregivers.

Adult Services

Services needed for people when they reach adulthood. Often includes, but not limited to: assistance in finding a job, assistance in the home, assistance in finding housing, assistance at work, daily supports, employment-related supports, and the provision of various therapies or medications.

Age of Majority

Legally defined age at which a person is considered an adult and has all the rights and responsibilities of being an adult. The age can vary by state, but in most states this is at 18 years old.

Aging Out

Term that applies to a student who is nearing the end of their public schooling covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in most states this is between ages 21-22.


An apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training with academic instruction for those entering the workforce. Certain careers provide apprenticeships.

Also referred to as dual-training programs because of the combined occupational and in-class components.

Augmentative and Alternative Commmunication (AAC)

All of the ways that someone communicates outside of talking. These ways can be used to add to someone's speech and/or as an alternative to speech. A person may use multiple types of AAC because there are many ways that we all communicate. There are a lot of types of AAC.


Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

A plan, typically an addition to the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as needed, that has proactive supports for students around behaviors that may get in the way for the student from learning. Needs to be proactive and stay up-to-date. Consistency is key across all staff members supporting the student.


Community-Based Instruction (CBI)

A more hands-on instructional approach that involves teaching, learning, and practicing academic & functional skills out in the community. Types of skills in focus: vocational, life skill, recreational/leisure, safety, accessing the community.

Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP)

Within the adult and community services umbrella, they are an agency that provides employment and other vocational services to disabled adults. Also known as Employment Service Providers. CRPs are private and non-profit organizations. The majority of their funding comes from government agencies and its funding sources (like Medicaid), additionally, some organizations may have families pay for their services out of pocket. 


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Diagnosis manual for all mental disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). A tool that contains language and standard criteria for the diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is intended to be the standard and used by researchers, clinicians, health insurance companies, legal system, policy makers, and more to maintain a common language.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5)

Published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) on May 18, 2013. This is edition is the most current one and redefined autism under the umbrella diagnostic label: Autism Spectrum Disorder.



Repetition of speech. Echolalia can present in many different ways and communicate different functions for the same individual.

3 common types:

1) Immediate Echolalia: Immediately follows after another person's speech. Can be interactive or non-interactive; serves a range of functions

2) Delayed Echolalia: Occurs at a later time; described as 'scripting'; pulls from previous communication interactions and/or favorite movies/TV shows/videos

3) Mitigated Echolalia: When the individual changes the wording or intonation made by the original speaker

Citation: Red Door Pediatric

Executive Functioning

An umbrella term describing how we navigate our day to day tasks. The way we coordinate all of our systems to work toward an end goal, be it at home, at work, or for fun.

9 key executive functioning skills:

  1. Adaptable thinking
  2. Planning
  3. Self-monitoring
  4. Self-regulation
  5. Working memory
  6. Time management
  7. Organization
  8. Metacognition
  9. Task initiation


Facilitated Communication (FC)

Deemed pseudoscience and a debunked technique for communication. Also previously referred to as “assisted typing”, “facilitated communication training”, and “supported typing”. Involves a disabled person pointing to letters, pictures, or objects on a keyboard or communication board, with physical assistance from a “facilitator”. That facilitator “physically assists” the individual by hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, or other parts of the body.

There has been no credible scientific evidence for facilitated communication and its benefits, and there has been “only growing evidence of the lack of efficacy and harms of FC” (ASHA. 2018).



Completing a task, activity, practice, or behavior across settings, with different people, at different times, etc. A common teaching strategy for a variety of skill areas: Academics, adaptive, organizational, executive functioning, social skills, vocational skills, self-advocacy.


Hidden Curriculum

The unwritten and implied social rules often guided by social norms that dictate what to do in social situations. Not directly or explicitly taught, but assumed that everybody knows the ‘social rules’.


Identity-First Language

Language referring to autism that a person is autistic. Identity-first derives from autism being a part of one's identity. Same is true for disability: disabled person.

With more input from autistic self-advocates, identity-first language is being instilled as the standard. The majority of autistic people prefer being called autistic. The term "autistic" previously was used as a derogatory term, however, it has been reclaimed through identity-first language.

Identity-first language is a continued discussion of language.  The goal for person-first language ("person with autism") was to see the whole person. In identity-first, we're building upon that and recognizing someone's identity.

It is important that when addressing the community, we say autistic. When talking with individuals, make sure to check in with their preference.


A concept and practice of equity, access, and opportunities for individuals who are from marginalized and underrepresented groups of people (disability, race and ethnicity, gender, and the intersections of each). 

Inclusion frequently is discussed around practices at the organizational level, in workplace and education (e.g., diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI), and inclusive. 

In the context of disabled students and IEPs, inclusion is discussed as the amount of time a student is with their non-disabled peers in the general education classroom. Inclusion is promoted by IDEA as the least restrictive environment. Although there are a number of models for inclusive classrooms: co-teaching and special education teachers pushing in or pulling out for services; inclusion is also an action.

Individual Transition Plan (ITP)

A written plan that bridges the individual education program (IEP) to life after high school. It outlines what a student will need as an adult, covering independent living, employment, and education. It is typically written by the IEP team, including the student, parent/caregiver, teacher, service coordinator, and adult service providers.

Interest Inventory

Self-assessment survey used in career planning. They are used as a tool to identify a person’s interests, values, skills, likes, and dislikes and match with activities and possible career options.


Job Coach

A professional who specializes in assisting disabled individuals in finding and maintaining a job. Each job coach role and set of responsibilities varies by organization. Expectations also vary across organizations and their own particular goals for job coaching (e.g., some job coaches stay on permanently and others fade their support over time). 

Most job coaches are employed with state vocational rehabilitation agencies, others work in non-profits or other community-based services such as supported employment agencies, transitional employment, and community mental health providers





A type of inclusion model for schools where disabled students are assigned to general education classrooms. A special education teacher serves as a co-teacher with an assistant within the classroom.

The main goal is that disabled students receive the same academic and social opportunities  as their classmates. 


A supportive relationship between a more experienced person (the mentor) and another (the mentee). The mentor offers support, guidance, and assistance to the mentee to achieve their goals. We include mentoring in our career exploration stages, because having a mentor or being a mentor can be incredibly helpful in the career planning process.

Multi-Disciplinary Team

A team where members represent a variety of specialties, training, and backgrounds. Each member brings  their own specific insights to the team. Ideal makeup for IFSP, IEP, adulthood services teams, and any team serving the needs of an individual.



The conceptual framework that brain differences are natural and another form of diversity. There is a shift in focus from one's deficits to their strengths and how they can be supported. Neurodiversity coexists with disability, and it is not the same thing as disability. There are a number of disabilities that fall under the neurodivergence umbrella, the most commonly listed are: autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, hyperlexia. Followed by schizophrenia, OCD, and bipolar disorder.

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder/Disability (NVLD or NLD)

Learning Disorder used in the educational system, not a formal medical diagnosis in the DSM-5. There are a number of overlapping needs with ASD, including organization and planning, staying focused, navigating new situations and changes, and navigating social interactions and experiences.



Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

A symbolic communication training for early non-speaking children. It is not a program to teach speech and often gets suggested as one. PECS was created through applied behavior analysis programming and professional training is required before use. 

There are multiple phases of PECS, each builds upon reinforcers and focus on direct question / answer sessions with learners (e.g., "What do you want?" "What do you see?" "I want...")



Respite Care

Short-term care for a child or adult with support needs. It provides a reprieve for a primary caregiver and can be arranged for just a couple of hours for an afternoon or across a weekend.

Many types of respite care include:

  • Care provider comes to your home for a few hours daily, weekly, or as needed
  • Drop-off day programs that provides activities at a school, healthcare facility, or faith-based or volunteer organization
  • Daily or weekly respite programs offered by a community-based organization, host family,  or sleepaway camp



A goal-writing mnemonic acronym, frequently used for Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and therapy goals as well as personal and professional goals.  

SMART stands for: 




Results-oriented, and 


Social Communication Disorder (SCD)

A new diagnosis in the DSM-5. Individuals with this diagnosis show challenges using verbal and nonverbal communication for social interactions, communicating effectively, social participation and engagement, and maintaining relationships. Although an entirely different diagnosis from ASD, there is slight overlap between the two. 

Social Pragmatics

A component of social skills, referring to the nuances of daily interactions. It includes nonverbal and verbal types of communication.

Made up of:

  • Using language for different purposes
  • Adapt language to the situation / person
  • "Unspoken rules" of conversation or social norms

Social Stories

A written and visual way to describe topics, events or a situation. Originated by Carol Gray in 1991, and has since become an evidence-based practice for supporting autistic learners.

Social stories can be used as a way to describe, provide explanations, and outline next steps as an individual navigates a situation. And used across a variety of topic areas from puberty, going to the dentist, current events, and other important and relevant topics to an individual.

Soft Skills

The social and interpersonal skills of working at a job. Distinct from the technical skills of the job, which are sometimes referred to as hard skills in comparison. Employers say that they are looking for soft skills when they are hiring and then determining success on the job. As a result, there has been an increased focus on teaching and practicing soft skills in career exploration and preparation.


An approach focused on an individual's strengths and self-determination. Strengths-based means we begin with the individual, it is led by the individual, and all work is individual- or client-centered. Strengths-based practice requires an acknowledgement of the individual's environment and systems (school, community, greater society) and provides supports to the individual to navigate it.

Supported Employment

Competitive employment in an integrated work setting with ongoing support services for disabled people. For individuals who would not be able to work in a traditional setting without services. Support services look like: job coaches, supervisors, &/or mentors; intensity varies by individual & needs.


Task Analysis

A process used to break up complex tasks into a sequence of smaller steps, tasks, or actions. Can look like a list, to-do list, or checklist. An evidence-based practice for autistic learners that builds upon strengths in visual processing and helps break things down in a direct and concrete way.



Visual Supports

A visual used to support a skill area such as life skills, academics, independence, and more. They can be photographs, drawings, objects, written words, or lists. Visual supports are an evidence-based practice that supports many autistic strengths in visual processing and provides another concrete and direct way to communicate information


Working Memory

A type of executive functioning skill. It allows us to work with information without losing track of what we're doing. Can think of it as a temporary sticky note to the brain: it holds the new information in place so the brain can work with it and connect it with other information. This is how some information stays in the short-term memory and may move to long-term memory as needed.

When we have difficulty with working memory, it can look differently across people. They may hold the break up the information, find their brain jumbling it, or not store it for long-term at all.




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