COMMON TERMINOLOGY

ACCOMMODATION: Generally, an adaptation or modification that enables a student with a
disability to participate in educational programming.

ACHIEVEMENT TEST: A test that measures what a student has learned in school.

ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR: A sort of "practical intelligence." It is usually measured by scales
that identify how well a person manages within his or her own environment.

ADVOCATE: An individual, either a parent or professional with special knowledge or training
concerning the problems of children with disabilities, who represents parents and children in due
process hearings and other nonjudicial proceedings seeking enforcement of the education rights
of students with a disability.

AFFECTIVE: Having to do with emotions, feelings or attitudes.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITES ACT OF 1990 (ADA): Legislation enacted to prohibit
discrimination based on disability.

AMPLIFICATION DEVICE: Any device that increases the volume of sound.

ANNUAL GOAL: A general statement of the intention to overcome a deficit in a specific area. It
is based on a need identified through an evaluation process.

APHASIA: A receptive (taking in information) language disorder or, more commonly,
expressive (speaking/writing) language disorder in children who do not demonstrate the ability to
acquire meaningful spoken language usually resulting from damage or disease to the brain.

APPEAL: Procedure in which a party seeks to reverse or modify a judgment or final order of a
lower court or administrative agency, usually on grounds that lower court misinterpreted or
misapplied the law, rather than on the grounds that it made an incorrect finding of fact.

ARTICULATION: The production of distinct language sounds by the vocal chords.

ASSESSMENT: Specific features used to gather information and can include formal and
informal tests; student records; work products; and observations of students in the classroom,
other school environments, and the community.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY DEVICE: 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.

classification used to describe individuals who exhibit poor attention, distractibility, impulsivity,
and hyperactivity.

ATTENTION SPAN: The extent to which a person can purposely focus his attention on things
or activities.

AUDIOLOGY: Related service; includes identification, determination of hearing loss, and
referral for habilitation of hearing.

AUDITORY DISCRIMINATION: The ability to identify the differences between sounds.

AUDITORY IMPAIRED: Corresponds to “auditorily handicapped” and further corresponds to
the Federal eligibility categories of deafness or hearing impairment. “Auditorily impaired” means
an inability to hear within normal limits due to physical impairment or dysfunction of auditory
mechanisms characterized by “i or ii” below. An audiological evaluation by a specialist qualified
in the field of audiology and a speech and language evaluation by a certified speech-language
specialist are required.
         i.       “Deafness” – The auditory impairment is so severe that the student is impaired in
                  processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification
                  and the student’s educational performance is adversely affected.
         ii.      “Hearing impairment” – An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or
                  fluctuating which adversely affects the student’s educational performance.

AUTISM (AI): Means a pervasive developmental disability which significantly impacts verbal
and nonverbal communication and social interaction that adversely affects a student’s educational
performance. Onset is generally evident before age three. Other characteristics often associated
with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to
environmental change or change in daily routine, unusual responses to sensory experiences and
lack of responsiveness to others. The term does not apply if the student’s adverse educational
performance is due to emotional disturbance as defined in the New Jersey Administrative Code
Title 6A, Chapter 14. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three may be
classified as autistic if the criteria in this paragraph are met. An assessment by a certified speech-
language specialist and an assessment by a physician trained in neurodevelopmental assessment
are required.

BASELINE DATA: Data that reflects the level and frequency of behavior prior to beginning an

BASIC SKILLS: Skills in subjects like reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics.

BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN: Integrating strategies for teaching and maintaining
adaptive behavior and reducing or eliminating problem behaviors.

BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION: The shaping of behavior through a planned method of
principles of learning in a controlled learning environment to minimize or eliminate negative
behavior and emphasize and reinforce positive behavior.

CATEGORICAL PLACEMENT: Special education programs in which students are grouped
on the basis of their IDEA eligibility category.

CEREBRAL PALSY: Nerve and muscle dysfunction resulting from a defect, injury or disease
of the tissues of the central nervous system which alters a person’s movement or motor functions.

CHILD FIND: Requirement that states ensure that all children with disabilities are identified,
located and evaluated, and determine which children are receiving special education and related

CHRONOLOGICAL AGE (CA): Age determined in years and months by birth date at a
specific time such as time of the evaluation or grade placement.

COGNITION: The understanding of information in the brain: involves mental activities such as
paying attention, perceiving, learning, making decisions, problem solving and memory.

COGNITIVE: A term which refers to reasoning or intellectual capacity.

COGNITIVE IMPAIRED: Corresponds to “mentally retarded” and means a disability that is
characterized by significantly below average general cognitive functioning existing concurrently
with deficits in adaptive behavior; manifested during the developmental period that adversely
affects a student’s educational performance and is characterized by one of the following:
         i.       “Mild cognitive impairment” corresponds to “educable” and means a level of
                  cognitive development and adaptive behavior in home, school and community
                  settings that are mildly below age expectations with respect to all of the
                  1. the quality and rate of learning;
                  2. the use of symbols for the interpretation of information and the solution of
                       problems; and
                  3. performance on an individually administered test of intelligence that falls
                       within a range of two to three standard deviations below the mean.
         ii.      “Moderate cognitive impairment” corresponds to “trainable” and means a level
                  of cognitive development and adaptive behavior that is moderately below age
                  expectations with respect to the following:
                  1. the ability to use symbols in the solution of problems of low complexity;
                  2. the ability to function socially without direct and close supervision in home,
                       school and community settings; and
                  3. performance on an individually administered test of intelligence that falls
                       three standard deviations or more below the mean.
         iii.     “Severe cognitive impairment” corresponds to “eligible for day training” and
                  means a level of functioning severely below age expectations whereby in a
                  consistent basis the student is incapable of giving evidence of understanding and
                  responding in a positive manner to simple directions expressed in the child’s
                  primary mode of communication and cannot in some manner express basic wants
                  and needs.

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 educational performance.

COMMUNICATION IMPAIRED: Corresponds to “communication handicapped” and means a
language disorder in the areas of morphology, syntax, semantics and/or pragmatics/discourse
which adversely affects a student’s education performance and is not due primarily to an auditory
impairment. The problem shall be demonstrated through functional assessment of language in
other than a testing situation and performance below 1.5 standard deviations, or the 10th percentile
on at least two standardized language tests, where such tests are appropriate one of which shall be
a comprehensive test of both receptive and expressive language. When the area of suspected
disability is language, assessment by a certified speech-language specialist and assessment to
establish the educational impact are required. The speech-language specialist shall be considered
a child study team member.
         i.       When it is determined that the student meets the eligibility criteria according to
                  the definition above, but requires instruction by a speech-language specialist
                  only, the student shall be classified as eligible for speech-language services.
         ii.      When the area of suspected disability is a disorder of articulation, voice or
                  fluency, the student shall be evaluated according to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3(g) and, if

                eligible, classified as eligible for speech-language services according to N.J.A.C.

CONCRETE THINKING: Understanding of language which is limited specifically to an object,
person or occurrence, connected with an inability to generalize beyond specific object or
circumstance being thought about or perceived: considered lower level of thinking when
compared to abstract thinking.

CONDUCT DISORDER: A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic
rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms are violated through observable behavior.

CONGENITAL: Existing at birth.

CONSENT: A written agreement to carry out an activity after being fully informed in one’s
native language of all information related to the activity.

CONTINUUM OF ALTERNATIVE PLACEMENTS: The range of placements in which
students with a disability may receive some or all of their individualized education program
(IEP); these range from least restrictive to more restrictive: regular classroom, regular classroom
with resource room, regular classroom with special class (self-contained), full-time special class,
day school, residential treatment facility, and homebound instruction.

COUNSELING SERVICES: Related service; includes services provided by social workers,
psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel.

CRITERION-REFERENCED TEST: Determine whether a student has mastered a particular
skill. They compare a student to a standard of master. Criterion referenced tests assess how well a
student performs on a test of a particular skill. They help determine a student’s educational needs
and special education programming and placement.

CUMULATIVE FILE: General file maintained by the school; parent has right to inspect the file
and have copies of any information contained in it.

CUMULATIVE RECORD: The complete record of a student’s educational experience over
time that is kept by the school attended. General file maintained by the school; parent has right to
inspect the file and have copies of any information contained in it.

CURRICULUM: Series of courses offered and/or required in a school. The curriculum for
students with a disability detailing what students should learn, when they should learn it and how
they should be taught is part of the IEP.

CURRICULUM-BASED ASSESSMENT: A methodology of increasing importance in special
education in which a child's progress in the curriculum is measured at frequent intervals.

DEAF: A hearing loss so severe that the auditory channel is not the primary means of developing
speech and language skills.

DEAF/BLINDNESS: Means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of
which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that
they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or
students with blindness.

DECLASSIFICATION: The process in which a child with a disability is no longer considered
in need of special education services. This requires a meeting of the IEP team and can be
requested by the parent, school, or child if over the age of 18.

DEFICIT: An area where the level of performance that is less than expected for a child.

DELAY: Development which does not occur within expected time ranges.

DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY: A delay in the area of cognition, socialization, independent
functioning, communication or motor skills resulting in a child having slower and or difficulty
acquiring skills than his or her typical age peers.

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY (DD): A severe and chronic mental or physical impairment
which developed before age 22 and limits several major life activities.

DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY: The developmental (stages of growth) progress of a child in
such skills as sitting, walking, or talking.

DIAGNOSIS: Refers to the specific disorder(s) identified as a result of some evaluation.

DISABILITY: In Section 504 and ADA, defined as impairment that substantially affects one or
more major life activities; an individual who has a record of having such impairment, or is
regarded as having such an impairment.

DISCREPANCY FORMULA: A formula used to establish the existence of a severe difference
between achievement and intellectual ability. (state-selected formula is permitted under federal

DISTRACTIBILITY: Refers to difficulty in maintaining attention.

DOMAINS: The functional performance areas in which a child’s performance is assessed:
physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

DOWNS SYNDROME: A condition diagnosed at birth, which includes mental retardation and
is the result of improper cell division during fetal development.

DUE PROCESS: A legal procedure guaranteeing a meaningful opportunity to challenge a
government action. In special education, this assures parents and children a hearing before
placement or reassignment in special education. In general, due process includes the elements of
notice, opportunity to be heard and to defend ones' self.

DYSCALCULIA: A learning disability in which the child has an inability to calculate, apply,
solve, or identify mathematical functions.

DYSFLUENCY: Difficulty in the production of fluent speech as in the example of stuttering.

DYSGRAPHIA: A learning disability in which the child has an inability or loss of ability to

DYSLEXIA: A learning disability in which the child has an inability or loss of ability to read and

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Instruction or intervention that precedes traditional
schooling to aid the educational success of children who have been identified as having a
disability or being at-risk.

EARLY INTERVENTION (EI): Special education and related services provided to children
under age of 3.

EDUCATIONAL METHODOLOGY: Choices in instructional methods or curriculum content.

ELIGIBILITY: The determination of whether or not a child qualifies to receive special
education services based on meeting the disability criteria established by the State Board of
Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED (ED): 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 student’s educational performance due to:

        i.      An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health
        ii.     An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with
                peers and teachers;
        iii.    Inappropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances;
        iv.     A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
        v.      A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or
                school problems.

EPILEPSY: A chronic condition of the central nervous system which is characterized by
periodic seizures, convulsions of the muscles, and with more severe episodes, loss of

ETIOLOGY: The origin or cause of a disease or condition.

EVALUATION: Refers to the interpretation of information secured through assessment.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE: The ability to turn thoughts and feelings into words, writing or by

EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR: Special education programming that extends beyond the 180
days of the regular school year.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Programs sponsored by a school district that are not
part of the required curriculum but are instead offered to further the interests and abilities of

EYE-HAND COORDINATION: The ability of an individual to combine functions of the eyes
and the hands in carrying out manipulative activities involving the hands.

FINE MOTOR: Refers to coordination of small muscles in a purposeful manner, such as
writing, paper-pencil tasks, etc.

which requires an educational program for all children with no cost to parents in the most normal
setting possible.

FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSESSMENT: The process for gathering information that can
be used to build effective behavioral support plans. An assessment is complete when three main
outcomes can be accomplished: (1) Description of the undesirable behaviors(s), (2) Prediction of
the times and situations when the undesirable behavior(s) will and will not occur across the full
range of typical daily routines, (3) Definition of the function(s) that the undesirable behavior
produces for the student with a disability.

GENERAL CURRICULUM: Curriculum adopted by local school districts for all children from
preschool through high school.

GENERALIZATION: Ability to apply a skill or behavior learned in one setting to another
setting or ability to apply a learned skill or behavior in similar situations.

GRADE EQUIVALENT: A type of test score which represents what school grade the child has
achieved in the skill being tested.

GROSS MOTOR DEVELOPMENT: Ability to use and manipulate the large muscle groups
involved in activities such as running and throwing.

HOMEBOUND INSTRUCTION: A special-education service in which teaching is provided by
a specially trained instructor to students unable to attend school. A parent or guardian usually
must always be present at the time of instruction. In some cases, the instruction may take place on
a neutral site and not in the home or school. One of the most restrictive educational placements.

HYPERACTIVITY: Behavior that is characterized by excessive motor activity or restlessness.

IDENTIFICATION: Process of locating and identifying children who need special education

IMPULSIVITY: Tendency to take actions without considering consequences or without a
planned purposed for the action.

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: Concept of providing educational services for all students with
disabilities in their neighborhood schools in classes with age-appropriate non-disabled peers with
support from special education teachers and support personnel.

amended in 1997 that requires states to provide all children with disabilities a free appropriate
public education.

INDIVIDUAL EDUCATIONAL PLAN (IEP): A written statement of specially designed
instruction (revised annually or more often as needed) prepared at the IEP Team meeting that
describes the student’s eligibility; the student’s present level of performance; annual goals and
short term objectives; specific educational and related services and amount of time in general
education; the least restrictive and the reasons why accepted or rejected; transition services
beginning no later than age 14; and the dates of frequency of service – as specific as possible.

INFORMAL ASSESSMENTS: Anecdotal records, personality inventories, skill inventories,
interviews, observations, teacher-made tests and other non-standardized methods used to learn
about a student’s needs.

INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT (IQ): The score on a test that measures mental development.
The average score for the general population is 100.

INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM: A team of professionals from a variety of disciplines who
meet to assess the needs of a child.

INTERVENTION: Preventive, remedial, compensatory, or survival services given to an
individual in need.

KINESTHESIS: Sensation of movement arising from one’s muscles, joints and inner ears.

LEA – LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY: i.e., a local public school district.

LEARNING DISABILTY: Refers to students with average or above average intelligence ability
who experience a severe discrepancy between their ability and their achievement.

LEAST-RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT: The educational setting which allows a child to
receive special education services while among the greatest number of peers who do not have
disabilities. The general educational classroom is the preferred educational setting.

LONG TERM MEMORY: Recall system within the brain that keeps information for longer
than several minutes.

LONG TERM SUSPENSION: Any suspension in exceeding 10 school days.

LOW INCIDENCE DISABILITY: A disability that affects relatively few of the total number of
children with disabilities who receives special services.

MAINSTREAMING: The educational placement of a person in the setting that allows the most
interaction with peers who do not have disabilities. Typically requires the special education
student to perform all elements of the class required of general education students.

whether a student’s misconduct was caused by the student’s disability.

MEDIATION: An informal process in which an impartial facilitator tries to help parents and
school districts resolve differences over student’s identification, programming or placement.

MOBILITY INSTRUCTION: Integration of specific daily living skills into the educational
program of a student with a disability to help the student navigate safely in the community.

MOBILITY SPECIALIST: A professional with formal training who provides mobility training,
including orientation, to blind individuals.

MODELING: Imitation by a child of desired behaviors performed by peers or teachers.

MODIFICATIONS: Substantial changes in what the student is expected to demonstrate;
includes changes in instructional level, content, and performance criteria, may include changes in
test form or format; includes alternate assessments.

MULTIPLY DISABILED: Corresponds to “multiply handicapped” and “multiple
disabilities,” and means the presence of two or more disabling conditions, the
combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be
accommodated in a program designed solely to address one of the impairments. Multiple
disabilities includes cognitively impaired-blindness, cognitively impaired-orthopedic
impairment, etc. The existence of two disabling conditions alone shall not serve as a basis
for a classification of multiply disabled. Eligibility for speech-language services as
defined in this section shall not be one of the disabling conditions for classification based
on the definition of “multiply disabled.” Multiply disabled does not include deaf-

MULTIDISCIPLINARY EVALUATION: The testing of a student by a group of professionals:
psychologists, learning disability teacher consultants, social workers, speech/language therapists,

MULTISENSORY APPROACH: In connection with reading instruction, use of visual,
auditory and tactile or kinesthetic pathways to present instructional content.

NATIVE LANGUAGE: The primary language used by an individual.

NEUROLOGICAL: Relating to the nervous system.

NORM-REFERENCED TESTS: Tests that compare a child’s performance to the performance
of others when using the same measure. For example, a child’s reading skills are compared to the
scores by all other children his age, based on proven research.

OBJECTIVE: A specific skill, development, ability, or change within the goal area which the
student is expected to achieve.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY: Related service; includes therapy to remediate fine motor skills
and/or the identification of adapted ways of accomplishing activities of daily living when a
student’s disabilities preclude doing those tasks in typical ways (e.g. modifying clothing so a
person with weakness in his hands can dress himself/herself).

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST (OT): A professional who evaluates and determines
purposeful activities to facilitate improvement of a student’s physical, fine motor, sensory motor
and self care functioning within the school environment. This may include adaptation of

ORTHOPEDICALLY IMPAIRED: Corresponds to “orthopedically handicapped” and means a
disability characterized by a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student’s
educational performance. The term includes malformation, malfunction or loss of bones, muscle
or tissue. A medical assessment documenting the orthopedic condition is required.

OTHER HEALTH IMPAIRMENT: corresponds “chronically ill” and means a disability
characterized by having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness
with respect to the educational environment, due to chronic or acute health problems, such as
attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a heart condition,
tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead
poisoning, leukemia, diabetes or any other medical condition, such as Tourette Syndrome, that
adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A medical assessment documenting the
health problem is required.

PARAPROFESSIONALS: Trained assistants who work with a classroom teacher in the
education process.

PARENT: Parent, guardian, or surrogate parent; may include grandparent or stepparent
with whom a child lives, and foster parent.

PERCENTILE: A type of measurement that compares a person’s performance to the
performance of others of the same age or in the same grade by ranking the score. A percentile
score means the individual performed that test as well as or better than equal or lower percentiles.

PERCEPTION: Ability to process and comprehend information one receives via the senses.

PERCEPTUAL-MOTOR DISORDER: A sensory perception deficiency receiving, processing
or responding to sensory information about one’s environment, in turn causing problems with
comprehension, memory and the perceptual motor skills needed to read, write and master

PERCEPTUAL SKILLS: The ability to select, organize, and understand information coming in
through the sense. (hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting)

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Related service; includes therapy to remediate gross motor

PHYSICAL THERAPIST (PT): A professional who assesses and treats a student to improve
his level of functioning, mainly in the area of mobility and walking skills, within the school

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT: Any stimulus or event that occurs after a desired behavior
has been exhibited and increases the possibility of that behavior occurring in the future.

PRAGMATICS: Language system concerned with functional language use, including the ability
to engage in a conversation through appropriate use of nonverbal behaviors such as maintaining
eye contact and taking turns speaking and listening to others.

PRAXIS PLANNING: Ability to plan and execute tasks requiring motor skills.

PRESCHOOL CHILD WITH A DISABILITY: Corresponds to preschool handicapped and
means a child between the ages of three and five experiencing developmental delay, as measured
by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the areas i through v
below, and requires special education and related services. When utilizing a standardized
assessment or criterion-referenced measure to determine eligibility, a developmental delay shall
mean a 33 percent delay in one developmental area, or a 25 percent delay in two or more
developmental areas.
        i.      Physical, including gross motor, fine motor and sensory (vision and hearing);
        ii.     Cognitive;
        iii.    Communication;
        iv.     Social, and emotional; and
        v.      Adaptive.

PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE: Required written notice to parents when school proposes to
initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, or educational
placement of the child.

PROCEDURAL WRITTEN NOTICE: Requirement that schools provide full easily
understood explanation of procedural safeguards that describe parent’s right to an independent
educational evaluation, to examine records, to request mediation and due process.

PROMPTING: Instructional technique in which a cue --- visual, auditory or physical --- is
presented in order to facilitate successful completion of a task or performance of a behavior.

PROPRIOCEPTIVE SENSE: a student’s subconscious awareness of body position, either
when in motion or still.

PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION: The portion of a child’s overall special education
evaluation that tests general aptitudes and abilities, eye-hand coordination, social skills, emotional
development and thinking skills.

PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES: Related service; includes administering psychological and
educational tests, interpreting test results, interpreting child behavior related to learning.

PSYCHOLOGIST: A professional trained to administer psychological tests, interpret results,
recommend eligibility and develop programs/services for students.

REEVALUATION: Periodic evaluation of a student already identified as IDEA eligible.

REFERRAL: A formal notification to the local school made by a family, a teacher or other
professional, that a child is experiencing educational difficulties which may require a full special
education evaluation.

REGRESSION-RECOUPMENT: The amount of loss of skills a child experiences over an
instructional break and the amount of time it takes him/her to recover the lost skills.

RELATED SERVICES: Services that are necessary for child to benefit from special
education; includes speech-language services, psychological services, physical and
occupational therapy, early identification and assessment, counseling, orientation and
mobility services, school health services, social work services, parent counseling and

RELIABILITY OF TESTS: Refers to how consistently a test yields similar results across time,
raters, and items. If a particular test is given at several different times to different students and is
administered and scored by different people, and if the test questions do not change, the test is
reliable if the raters basically agree on the scores of the test takers.

REMEDIATION: An educational program designed to teach children to overcome some deficit
or disability through education and training.

RESOURCE ROOM: A classroom program designed for students who require a part of their
instructional day in special education in areas such as language arts and mathematics.

SCHOOL HEALTH SERVICES: Related service; services provided by a qualified school
nurse or other qualified person.

SECTION 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects individuals with disabilities from
discrimination due to disability.

SELF-CARE SKILLS: Activities in the domain of adaptive behavior, such as toileting, eating,
grooming, bathing, shopping or housekeeping.

SELF-CONTAINED CLASS: A separate classroom located within a general education school,
used by children with disabilities, usually in the same categorical grouping.

SELF-STIMULATORY BEHAVIOR: Repeated nonfunctional and non-responsive movements
such as rocking back and forth; arm or hand flapping; eye rubbing, etc.

SEMANTICS: The rules of language governing the meaning of words in sentences.

SENSORY IMPAIRMENT: Sensitivity in the auditory, visual, tactile, taste, vestibular,
olfactory, or proprioceptive senses.

SENSORY INTEGRATION: How an individual organizes, interprets and uses sensory
information, from the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses to move through space and
coordinate movement.

SHORT-TERM OBJECTIVES: A required component of an IEP. Each annual goal must have
at least one short-term objective.

SHORT TERM MEMORY: Memory that typically persists for only seconds to minutes.

SHORT TERM SUSPENSION: Any suspension of 10 school days or less in a school year.

SIGN LANGUAGE: A visual-gestural system of language for deaf or hearing-impaired students.

SOCIAL WORKER: Professionals who act as the link between home, school, and community
by providing direct interventions with students, families, and the educational community;
consultation with the school personnel and community; and advocacy regarding the special needs
of those in the educational setting.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the
unique educational needs of students with disabilities to help them develop to their maximum

of parents of students with disabilities from each local education agency within the
intermediate school district. The SEPAC advises the Child Study Team on matters
relating to special education programs and services.

SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY (SLD): Corresponds to “perceptually impaired” and
means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding
or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an 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

        i.      A specific learning disability can be determined when a severe discrepancy is
                found between the student’s current achievement and intellectual ability in one or
                more of the following areas:
                1. Basic reading skills;
                2. Reading comprehension;

                3. Oral expression;
                4. Listening comprehension;
                5. Mathematical calculation
                6. Mathematical problem solving;
                7. Written expression; and
                8. Reading fluency
        ii.     A specific learning disability may also be determined by utilizing a response to
                scientifically based interventions methodology as described in N.J.A.C.6A:14-
        iii.    The term severe discrepancy does not apply to students who have learning
                problems that are primarily the result of visual , hearing, or motor disabilities,
                general cognitive deficits, emotional disturbance or environmental, cultural or
                economic disadvantage.
        iv.     The district shall, if it utilizes the severe discrepancy methodology, adopt
                procedures that utilize a statistical formula and criteria for determining severe
                discrepancy. Evaluation shall include assessment of current academic
                achievement and intellectual ability.

SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY SERVICES: Related service; includes identification
and diagnosis of speech or language impairments, speech or language therapy, counseling and

SPEECH OR LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT: Disability category under IDEA; includes
communication disorders, language impairments, voice impairments that adversely educational

SPEECH PATHOLOGIST: Professional trained to evaluate and provide therapy for speech and
language disorders.

STANDARD DEVIATION: Statistical term used to measure how far a student’s score is from
the score of most students, as measured in distances that represent a significant difference.

STANDARDIZED TESTS: Tests which compare one student to a large sample of students of
the same age or group, which have been tested and through research methods established a
“normal” score for purposes of comparison.

STAY PUT PROVISION: A legal concept from special education law. A student is allowed to
stay in a class or program while an impartial hearing officer hears evidence and decides whether
the student’s program or placement should be changed.

SUPPLEMENTARY AIDS AND SERVICES: Modifications to the general education program
made to ensure that a student with a disability can participate fully in the program.

SURROGATE PARENT: A person other than the child’s natural parent who is named to act as
the child’s “parent” in special education matters. Surrogate parents most often serve students who
live in facilities or institutions.

TACTILE DEFENSIVENESS: Extreme sensitivity to touch.

TACTILE SENSE: Sense of touch over body surfaces, including pressure temperature and pain.

TARGET BEHAVIOR: A specific undesirable behavior(s) in a student’s behavior to be
modified, reduced or eliminated; also refers to desirable skills, which are goals of behavior
support plans for a child with a disability.

TASK ANALYSIS: A teaching strategy in which skills are broken down into smaller
steps; and then used in a teaching method tailored to each child’s pace of learning.

TOKEN ECONOMY: A system of encouraging desirable behaviors through the delivery of
tokens. These tokens can be in the form of stars, points, candy, chips, and so on.

TOTAL COMMUNICATION: The approach to the education of deaf students that combines
oral speech, sign language, and finger spelling.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: Corresponds to “neurologically impaired” and means an
acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or insult to the brain, resulting in
total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both. The term applies to open
or closed head injuries resulting in impairments 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.

TRANSITION PLANNING: At a minimum, this is planning for adolescents' post-school lives
and must begin by age 14. This involves preparation of a document called an Individual
Transition Program (ITP). Good practice may involve planning for earlier transitions as well as
incorporating such plans into the child's IEP.

TRANSITION SERVICES: IEP requirement; designed to facilitate movement from school to
the workplace or to higher education.

TRANSPORTATION: Travel to, from and between schools; travel in and around school
buildings; and specialized equipment (such as special or adapted bus lifts, and ramps), if required
to provide special transportation to a child with a disability.

VALIDITY: Refers to how well a test measures what it claims to measure. A test is valid when it
accurately measures one or more of a student’s skills or needs, such as the capacity (or lack of
capacity) to see, hear, talk, reason, remember, or conform to certain standards of behavior.

VISUALLY IMPAIRED: Corresponds to “visually handicapped” and means an impairment in
vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term
includes both partial sight and blindness. An assessment by a specialist qualified to determine
visual disability is required. Students with visual impairments shall be reported to the
Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.


BILATERAL COORDINATION: is the skilled and coordinated use of two hands/arms/sides of
the body at the same time; right and left arms and hands working together or one hand stabilizing
while the other hand is working.

Crossing the midline refers to the ability to cross your arms or legs over the midline of the body;
reaching with the right hand or right leg over the midline to the left side of the body. (twisting the
body toward one side.)

DEEP PRESSURE: is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching,
holding, or swaddling. It is firm but gentle, slow and deliberate that reaches through the layers of
the skin so to speak. In contrast, light touch pressure is a more superficial stimulation of the skin,
such as tickling, very light touch, or moving hairs on the skin. Very light touch alerts the nervous
system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.

Examples of this type of input for sensory kids would be gently "squashing" them with a pillow
over their legs, torso, arms, etc. You can sandwich them between pillows and apply pressure; a
bean bag chair that isn't super full and make a "taco" so that his whole body is surrounded by the
beanbag and then we squoooooosh firmly, slowly for a few seconds and release.

DIRECTIONALITY: the visual-spatial skill of being aware of right/left, forward/back,
up/down, diagonals, and the ability to move oneself in those directions

DYSPRAXIA: difficulty in conceiving of, planning, and carrying out a novel motor action or
series of motor actions. Motor planning is a component of praxis.

FINE MOTOR: movement of the small muscles in the fingers, toes, eyes and tongue

GRADATION OF MOVEMENT: ability to flex and extend muscles according to how much
pressure is necessary to exert; a function of proprioception.

GRAPHOMOTOR: pertaining to the muscular movements in writing.

HAND PREFERENCE/DOMINANCE: right-or left-handedness, which becomes established as
lateralization of the cerebral hemispheres develops; usually established by 4 or 5 years old; when
not established can impact a child’s ability to develop directionality and perform coordinated

observable behavior involving a quick or intense response to sensory stimuli that others usually
perceive as benign; an exaggerated response or withdrawal from stimuli

HYPO-RESPONSIVENESS/HYPOSENSITIVITY: behavior involving a slow response to
sensory stimuli; requiring high intensity or increased duration of the stimuli to invoke an
observed behavioral response; tendency to be sensory-seeking and/or difficult to engage

IN-HAND MANIPULATION: involves manipulating an object within one hand. The fingers
and thumb are used to best position the object for the activity. For example, picking up a pen and
moving it into position with your fingers for writing, or moving a coin from your palm to
fingertips to put into a slot of a piggybank.

In-hand manipulation is one of the most complex fine motor skills. Children who have difficulty

with in-hand manipulation may be slow or unable to complete some everyday activities.

KINESTHETIC AWARENESS: awareness of joint position and body movement in space,
such as knowing where to place one’s feet when climbing stairs, where to place one’s fingers on a
pencil, etc. without visual cues.

OCULOMOTOR SKILLS: movements of muscles in the eyes, including binocularity, fixation,
focusing and tracking
        Binocularity or binocular coordination: how well the eyes work together as a team
        (skill and endurance)
        Convergence/divergence: the basic oculomotor skill of accommodating one’s vision
        smoothly between near and distant objects (such as the blackboard and desk when

PERSEVERATE: to continue an activity or behavior when no longer appropriate

PROPRIOCEPTION: is considered the sixth sense; developed by the nervous system as a
means to keep track of and control the different parts of the body. Rather than sensing external
reality, proprioception is the sense of the orientation of one's limbs in space. It is the sense that
indicates whether the body is moving with required effort, as well as where the various parts of
the body are located in relation to each other.

Proprioception is what police officers test when they pull someone over and suspect drunkenness.
Without proprioception, we'd need to consciously watch our feet to make sure that we stay
upright while walking.

SELF-REGULATION: the ability to control one’s activity level and state of arousal; self-

SENSORIMOTOR: pertaining to the brain-behavior process of taking in sensory messages and
reacting with a physical response

TRIPOD GRASP: the grasp of a writing tool using three fingers (thumb, index, middle)

VESTIBULAR SENSE: the balance and movement sense that responds to changes in head
position, body movement and the pull of gravity; coordinates movments of the eyes, head and
body; affects balance, muscle tone, visual-spatial perception, auditory language and emotional
security. Receptors are in the inner ear.

VISUAL ACUITY: The degree to which the eye can distinguish fine detail at varying distances,
also termed the clarity of vision.

VISUAL MEMORY: Memory that holds visual information.

VISUAL MOTOR INTEGRATION: refers to the ability to coordinate the motor movement
with visual stimulus, it involves both a perceptual input and motor output. Fine motor integration
is the ability to skillfully move the hand under guidance of the eyes.

VISUAL PERCEPTION: ability to perceive and interpret what the eyes see; may include
position in space, figure-ground, visual-closure, form-constancy

VISUAL-SPATIAL DEFICIT: A reading disorder marked by difficulty linking letters together
to form whole words.


AMBULATORY: the ability to walk from place to place by oneself. One can use an assistive
device to help him.

ASSISTIVE DEVICE: any device which is designed, made, or adapted to assist a person to
perform a particular task: crutches, cane, or walkers.

BALANCE: the ability to maintain center of gravity of a body within the base of support with
minimal postural sway.

BASE OF SUPPORT: the body parts (feet, buttocks) in contact with the support surface (floor,

COORDINATION: the combination of body movements created with the kinematic (spatial)
and kinetic (force) parameters which result in intended actions. Such actions should be well
timed, smoothly and efficiently working together using the integration of several limbs and
muscle groups.

DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONE: the set of functional skills or age specific tasks that most
children can do at a certain age range: rolling over, sitting up, crawling, cruising, walking, etc.

ENDURANCE: the ability to sustain low intensity movements over a period of time.

EQUILIBRIUM: the state of rest or balance due to equal action of opposing forces (muscle

GAIT: the pace and manner of movement during walking.

GROSS MOTOR SKILLS: movements in functional activities using large muscle groups, such
as walking, kicking, sitting upright, throwing a ball, jumping, etc.

MOTOR PLANNING (PRAXIS): the ability to conceive, organize, and carry out a sequence of
unfamiliar actions with adequate motor and conceptual capacity.

MOVEMENT TRANSITIONS: the motor skills to transfer oneself from one position to
another: from sit to stand, from squat to stand, etc.

MUSCLE TONE: the muscle’s state of excitability at rest during passive range of motion as
determined by a professional.

        Low tone: lower than normal tone
        High tone: higher than normal tone
        Flaccid: neuromuscular condition of hypotonia caused by damage to the lower motor
        Spastic: neuromuscular condition of hypertonia caused by brain damage which inhibits
        the proper development of the upper motor neuron function

NONAMBULATORY: the inability to walk from place to place by oneself; or is only able to
take a few steps which may require significant effort and/or assistance.

ORTHOSIS: a device applied to a limb to control or enhance movement, to prevent bone
movement, or to prevent deformity

POSTURE: the ability to maintain upright using antigravity muscles over the base of support.

PROSTHESIS: an artificial device that replaces a missing body part.

RANGE OF MOTION: the degree of movement between two joints.

        Active Range of Motion: the degree of movement between two joints done by the person,
        Passive Range of Motion: the degree of movement between two joints done by someone

SCHOOL BASED PHYSICAL THERAPY: a related service provided by a licenses physical
therapist to an identified child in his school setting. Interventions are individually designed (IEP)
with specific goals and objectives which ultimately lead to the child’s ability, as much as
possible, to independently function in, navigate, access, and negotiate physical surroundings of
his natural school environment.

STRENGTH: the ability to generate muscle power and actively move a joint through its range of
motion against gravity with resistance applied.


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