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The Glossary includes abbreviations, technical terms, acronyms, and definitions of many assessment tools. You may access it two ways. You can either scroll down to find the word or you can click on the letter of the alphabet.

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Day Treatment. Community-based, nonresidential program of services for children. It is the most intensive program available that still allows the child to remain in the home.


DD. Developmental Disability. Developmental disabilities cover a person whose disability occurs before age 22 and includes a mental or physical impairment or a combination of both. There must be a substantial limitation in three or more of these major life areas: self-care; expressive or receptive language; learning; mobility; capacity for independent living; economic self-sufficiency; or self-direction.


DDC. Developmental Disabilities Council.


Deaf. 1. A term used to categorize individuals who have hearing losses greater than 75 to 80 dB, have vision as their primary input, and cannot understand speech through the ear even with the use of hearing aids. The sense of hearing for a person who is deaf is nonfunctional for the ordinary purposes of life. 2. As defined in P.L. 94-142: Hearing impairment so severe as to impede the child from processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, and which adversely affects educational performance. Deaf (with a capital D) indicates a cultural identification with members of the Deaf community and the use of American Sign Language as the primary communication method.


Deaf-blind. A term used to describe a person who has a substantial degree of loss of both sight and hearing which combined results in functional difficulties in the areas of development, education, vocation and/or independent living. One of the losses may be progressive, which in combination with the other sensory loss, may lead to severe dual sensory impairments.


Deafness. Having complete or partial loss of the sense of hearing. The loss may be congenital or acquired, temporary or permanent. It may be caused by disease or injury to the auditory nerve.


DECS. Department of Educational and Cultural Services.


Deinstitutionalization. The reduction of the number of individuals residing in institutions and larger group homes. Deinstitutionalization may be effected by enhancing the abilities of families, professionals, and/or communities to provide appropriate services and supports for individuals who have been institutionalized or by “institutional avoidance”. Institutional avoidance is the initial provision in the school, workplace, home, or community of those services and supports necessary for community life for those with disabilities.


Delayed Language. A language disorder in which there is a noticeable slowness in the development of the vocabulary and grammar necessary for expressing and understanding thoughts and ideas.


Delayed Speech. Failure of speech to develop at the expected age. More specifically: A deficit in speaking proficiency where the individual performs like someone much younger.


Delinquent. A child or youth (usually under 18) who is found by a juvenile court to have broken a law.


Dementia. A disorder of the brain. It involves the loss of memory and other mental functions. It can result from many different causes and can vary in its severity. Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia. Symptoms of dementia may include: loss of memory, impairment of intellectual functions severe enough to interfere with a person’s job or social life, change in personality, behavioral changes such as delusion, hallucination, or depression, impairment of judgment, and wandering.


Depression. Depression is a disorder of mood. Depression may vary from a mild normal response to the stresses of daily living to a severe psychiatric disturbance that can interfere with daily living. Severe depression is reversible and should be treated. The occurrence of depression is more frequent with aging. It is more likely to occur in people who have had a prior episode or who have a family history of depression. Physical illness, particularly chronic illness, can also cause depression. Social factors such as isolation, financial losses, and bereavement can lead to depression as well. Signs and symptoms include talking directly or indirectly about suicide, giving possessions away, buying a gun, stockpiling pills, increasing risk-taking behaviors or general carelessness about health, change in appetite, expressing feelings of being overwhelmed.


Development. Growing both physically and mentally.


Developmental. Having to do with the steps or stages in growth and development before the age of 18.


Developmental Age. The actual age score a child receives within a specific developmental area as compared to the chronological age.


Developmental Assessment. Standardized tests that are intended to document the emergence of a sequence of behaviors, skills, or abilities over a period of time.


Developmental Day Center. A center-based program providing individualized habilitative services to children with developmental disabilities. Services are designed to build self-help skills, fine and gross motor coordination, language and communication, cognitive and social skills, and to facilitate continued education in a less restrictive environment.


Developmental Delay. When a child's development progresses at a slower rate than most children.


Developmental Disability (DD). 1. A handicap or impairment originating before the age of 18 which may be expected to continue indefinitely and which constitutes a substantial impairment. The disability may be attributable to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or other neurologic conditions and may include autism. 2. According to the Developmental Disabilities Act: When applied to infants and young children it means: Individuals from birth to age 5, inclusive, who have substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired conditions with a high probability of resulting in developmental disabilities if services are not provided. For persons 5 years of age or older it's defined as: A severe, chronic disability which: a. is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments; b. is manifested before the person attains age twenty-two; c. is likely to continue indefinitely; d. results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: (i) self care, (ii) receptive and expressive language, (iii) learning, (iv) mobility, (v) self-direction, (vi) capacity for independent living, and (vii) economic self-sufficiency; and e. reflects the person's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic care, treatment, or other services which are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.


Developmental Evaluation Center. A center staffed by a multidisciplinary team that provides examination and evaluation of a child or adult suspected of having a developmental disability. Habilitation and treatment plans are usually developed and follow up is provided.


Developmental History. The developmental progress of a child (ages birth to 18 years) in such skills as sitting, walking, or talking.


Developmental Milestones. Things an infant does while he/she is getting older, such as walking, saying a first word, sitting up, etc. These stages of growth must occur for later stages to develop properly (standing before walking).


Developmental Period. 1. The time between conception and 18 years of age, during which physical and mental growth occurs. The period in which developmental disabilities usually originate. 2. As stated in the AAMR definition of mental retardation, the period of time between birth and the eighteenth birthday.


Developmental Sequences. The sequence that must be in place for the next level to happen.


Developmental Tests. Standardized tests that measure a child's development as it compares to the development of all other children at that age.


Deviant. A term used to describe the negative behavior of individuals who are unable to adapt to social rules, customs, or norms (including sexual behavior), or to establish appropriate interpersonal relationships.


DHHS. Department of Health and Human Services (acronym for both the state and federal departments)


Diabetes. Diabetes is caused by a lack of the insulin hormone in your body, it also affects blood vessels, kidneys and nerves. Type 2 diabetes occurs with increased frequency in elderly patients. It more commonly develops in older people who are overweight. Symptoms include increased thirst, excessive fluid intake, increased urination, an increased susceptibility to infections, and weight loss.


Diagnosis. 1. Naming the cause of a disorder by looking at its symptoms. 2. The process of identifying specific mental or physical disorders. Some use the term more broadly to refer to a comprehensive evaluation not limited to the identification of specific disorders.


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV). A classification system for mental illnesses developed by the American Psychiatric Association. Axis I through V are used by the DSM IV to establish diagnosis. Axis I specifies Clinical Syndromes and V Codes which are conditions not attributable to a mental disorder but are a focus for attention or treatment. Axis II relates to developmental and personality disorders. Axes III denotes physical disorders and conditions usually confirmed by physicians. Axis IV distinguishes the severity of psychosocial stressors involved in a persons life. Axis V relates to the global assessment of functioning (GAF Scale).


Diagnostic Services. The services necessary to identify the presence of a disability, its cause and complications, and to determine the extent to which the disability is likely to limit the individual’s daily living and working activity.


Dietician. A specialist in nutrition, the dietician evaluates the patient’s nutritional status and recommends necessary dietary changes as a way of helping to treat various diet-related health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, constipation, obesity and excessive weight loss.


Direct Services. Providing services in a manner which addresses individualized needs that require specialized intervention strategies which can be performed only by the specialist providing the service (i.e., occupational therapist). Generally requires frequent contact between the child and the therapist.


Disability. 1. A particular act that someone has problems performing, like reading a book, running or dressing, because of an impairment. A disability is not a handicap unless the individual with a disability must function in a particular activity that is impeded by his or her physical limitation, or because society has said he or she is "unable" to perform activities for which they, in fact, are able to perform. 2. The result of any physical or mental condition that affects or prevents one's ability to develop, achieve, and/or function in educational and social settings within the "normal" rate of growth and development.


Disabled. 1. One who has a disability. See also "disability". 2. As defined in eligibility for the SSI program for a person 18 years or older, having a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments which prevents him/her from working and is expected to last at least 12 months or to result in death. For a child under 18, having a physical or mental impairment that is comparable in severity to one that would prevent an adult from working and is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.


Disabled Persons Equipment and Supplies. The equipment and supplies that help persons with physical, sensory, or mental impairments. Some disabilities, such as a broken hip, may be temporary; others are relatively minor, such as vision impairments that can be modified by corrective lenses. Other disabilities classified as severe may not represent a handicap—that is, the inability to take part in community life on an equal level with others. For instance, a person confined to a wheelchair may be able to live independently if physical and social barriers to mobility have been removed.


Dissociation. A mental condition in which ideas or desires are separated from the mainstream of consciousness or from one's personality to a degree that they are no long accessible to memory or consciousness. The individual has difficulty or is unable to perceive things or situations as a whole, but instead tends to respond to stimuli in terms of parts or segments.


Distractibility. Attention drawn too frequently to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli. Example: While being interviewed, a subject's attention is repeatedly drawn to noise from an adjoining office or other external stimuli.


DME. Durable Medical Equipment. Medical equipment that can withstand repeated use is primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose; is generally not useful in the absence of illness or injury; and is appropriate for use in the patient’s home and community.


DOC. Department of Corrections


DOE. Department of Education


DOL. Department of Labor


Down Syndrome. A condition resulting from a chromosomal abnormality, primarily the presence of an extra (or part of) a chromosome. Characteristic features include mental retardation of varying degrees, epicanthal folds, oval-shaped eyes, thicker tongue, short neck. microcephaly, looseness of the joints, flat bridge of nose, etc. Previously referred to as "mongolism".


DSS. Division of Special Services (DOE), the state agency responsible for ensuring that special education services are provided to children with disabilities.


Dual Diagnosis. Broadly used to refer to people with diagnoses of both mental retardation and substance abuse; may refer to a person with mental retardation who also has significant behavioral and/or emotional disabilities.


Due Process. A legal term referring to an action that protects a person's rights; in special education, this applies to action taken to protect the educational rights of students with handicaps.


Due Process Hearing. A formal legal proceeding presided over by an impartial public official who listens to both sides of the dispute and renders a decision based upon the law.


Dysarthria. A group of speech problems where sounds may be slurred, and speech may be slow or effortful. Changes in pitch, loudness, rhythm, and quality of speech may also be noticed. Such problems are due to paralysis, weakness, or incoordination of muscles used in speaking. Dysarthria occurs in both children and adults, and is associated with neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, parkinsonism, Lou Gehrig's disease, or later stages of multiple sclerosis. It can also occur from stroke, brain injury, and tumors.


Dyscalculia. Lack of ability to perform mathematical functions, usually associated with neurological dysfunction or brain damage.


Dysgraphia. Extremely poor handwriting or the inability to perform the motor movements required for handwriting. The condition is often associated with neurological dysfunction.


Dyskinesia. A physical condition caused by partial impairment of the coordination of voluntary muscles, which results in obvious clumsy movements and poor physical control.


Dyslexia. A type of learning disability where, despite conventional classroom experience, a person may have problems remembering and recognizing written letters, numbers, and words, might read backwards, and have poor handwriting. The term is frequently used when neurological dysfunction is suspected as the cause of the reading disability.


Dyspraxia. Inability to perform coordinated movements, especially speech, with no apparent problem in the muscles or nerves.


Dysthymic Disorder. A chronic disturbance of mood involving either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, usual activities and pastimes, and associated symptoms, but not of sufficient severity and duration to meet the criteria for a major depressive episode.


Dystonia. Acute tonic muscular spasms, often of the tongue, jaw, eyes, and neck, but sometimes of the whole body. Sometimes occurs during the first few days of antipsychotic drug administration.

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Early Childhood Specialist. Someone who specializes in early childhood development, usually having a Master's degree or Ph.D. in an area related to early childhood education.


Early Intervention. A related group of services for children with or at risk for developmental disabilities, delays, or atypical development. Professionals work in partnership with parents and children to help the children reach their maximum potential in communication, motor, cognitive, self-help and social-emotional development. Early intervention also includes assisting families in fully accessing community resources such as child service coordination, assistive technology, and speech, physical, and occupational therapy.


Early Intervention Program (EIP). Part C of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (also known as IDEA) that provides financial assistance to states to maintain and implement a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families; facilitates the coordination of payment for early intervention services from Federal, State, local, and private sources; enhances the state’s capacity to provide quality early intervention services and expand and improve existing early intervention services being provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families; and enhance the capacity of state and local agencies and service providers to identify, evaluate, and meet the needs of historically underrepresented populations, particularly minority, low-income, inner-city and rural populations.


Echolalia. A meaningless repetition or imitation of words that are heard. Typical echolalia tends to be repetitive and persistent. The echo is often uttered with a mocking, mumbling or staccato intonation. Echolalia should not be confused with habituation repetition of questions, apparently to clarify the question and formulate its answer, as when a patient is asked, "When did you come to the hospital?" and replies "Come to the hospital? Yesterday." Echolalia is observed in some pervasive developmental disorders, organic mental disorders and in schizophrenia.


ECT. Early Childhood Team (DOE), the team with responsibility for developing the IFSP or IEP for children age birth to 5, in need of early intervention or other special education services.


ED. Department of Education or Emotionally Disturbed.


Ed.D. Doctor of Education, indicates a doctoral degree in education.


Educable. A level of mental retardation, based on educability expectation, which involves measured intelligence of 55 to about 70, with academic achievement at the second to fifth grade level. Social adjustment often permits some degree of independence in the community and occupational sufficiency permits partial or total self-support.


Education of All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). Public Law 94-142, federal legislation passed in 1975, which makes available a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for all handicapped children in the United States.


Education Records. Records directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.


EEG. See "Electroencephalogram".


EFA. Epilepsy Foundation of America.


EIM. Elderly Independence of Maine, the home care coordinating agency for long term care programs administered by OES.


EHA. Education of the Handicapped Act.


ELC. Elizabeth Levinson Center (located in Bangor, ME).


Elective Mutism. A childhood disorder where the youngster has speaking abilities but chooses not o use them; a persistent refusal to talk.


Electroencephalogram (EEG). A record of brain wave patterns made with an instrument known as an electroencephalograph. This test measures electrical impulses generated by the cerebral cortex during brain functioning and prints these patterns in the form of a graph.


Eligibility. 1. The quality or state of being eligible: fit to be chosen; legally or normally qualified; suitable; desirable.


Emergency Medical Condition. A medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain or other acute symptoms, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following: a. serious jeopardy to the health of a patient, including a pregnant woman or a fetus; b. serious impairment to bodily functions; c. serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part; d. with respect to a pregnant woman: 1. that there is inadequate time to effect safe transfer to another hospital prior to delivery; 2. that a transfer may pose a threat to the health and safety of the patient or fetus; or that there is evidence of the onset and persistence of uterine contractions or rupture of the membranes.


Emotional Disturbance (ED or SED). A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which disrupts the child's or adolescent's educational, academic, or developmental performance: 1. An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual sensory, or health factors; 2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; 3. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. (Currently these students are labeled as Seriously Emotionally Disturbed.)


Empowerment. The act of enabling individuals with disabilities and the families of children with disabilities to exercise control in their lives by becoming the primary participants in decision making about the services and supports they are to receive, where they will live, where they will work or go to school, etc.


Encephalitis. An inflammation of brain tissue.


Enclave. A group of persons with disabilities working as a separate group with support within a regular work setting.


Encopresis. Inability to control one's bowels. This problem can usually be helped by seeking a physician's or psychologists' assistance.


Enteral Nutrition. Fluids, nutrients and electrolytes administered through specialized feeding tubes to the esophagus, stomach or intestines.


Enterostomal Therapy. The enterostomal therapist provides direct patient care and education to persons with abdominal stomach wounds, fistulas, drains, pressure sores, and incontinence.


Entitlement. A service that must be provided to all persons meeting the eligibility criteria. For example, Medicaid state plan services are an entitlement and must be provided.


Enuresis. Lack of bladder control. In diurnal enuresis, wetting occurs during the day; in nocturnal enuresis, wetting occurs at night.


Environmentally At Risk. Early life events that are associated with less than optional development outcomes (e.g., maternal education, low social support, or high levels of family parenting/stress).


EOWPVT. See "Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test".


Epilepsy. A physical condition that occurs when there is a sudden, brief change in how the brain works. When brain cells are not working properly, a person's consciousness, movement, or actions may be altered for a short time. These physical changes are called epileptic seizures. Epilepsy is therefore sometimes called a seizure disorder. However, people may experience a seizure and not have epilepsy. These seizures may be confined to elementary or complex impairment of behavior (petit mal), psycho-motor which may include lipsmacking, fear, confusion, and changes in perception, or may progress to a generalized convulsion (grand mal).


EPSDT. Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment. All Medicaid recipients under age 21 are eligible for EPSDT services which any health care, diagnostic service, treatment or other measure covered by Medicaid and necessary to correct or ameliorate defects, physical and mental illnesses, or conditions before they become serious and disabling.


Etiology. The cause(s) of a condition, particularly in reference to disease. Also used as a parameter of classification.


Evaluation. 1. As applies to educational settings: A way of collecting information (includes testing, observations, and parental input) about a student's learning needs, strengths, and interests. The evaluation is part of the process of determining whether a student qualifies for special education programs and services. 2. A process conducted by mental health professionals that results in an opinion about a child's mental or emotional capacity, and may include recommendations about treatment or placement. See "assessment".


Explosive Personality. A disorder of impulse control in which episodes of serious outbursts of relatively unprovoked aggression lead to assault on others or destruction of property where there is no organic, epileptic or other personality disorder that might account for the behavior. Also called intermittent explosive personality.


Expressive Aphasia. Defect in or loss of power of expression by speech, writing or gesture, resulting from injury or disease of the brain centers.


Expressive Language Disability/Disorders. 1. A learning disability in which a person has difficulty expressing oneself through speech. 2. Difficulties in language production.


Expressive Language. The ideas, concepts and feelings the child is able to share through speech, signing, gestures, etc.


Expressive Language Skills. Skills required to produce language for communication with other individuals. Speaking and writing are expressive language skills.


Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (EOWPVT). A testing instrument which identify an object, idea or concept from a picture.


Extended Family. Any family member that has significant contact and interacts on a regular basis with a child and his/her family.


Eye Contact. "Looking him in the eye" while talking to the listener; generally a natural, although not a constant, interaction of the speaker's eyes with those of the listener. Varies according to a person's culture.

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Fair Housing Act (1988). Prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives federal financial assistance, and state and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence.


FAS/FAE. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects.


Familial. Occurring in members of the same family; said of certain diseases or disorders.


Family Centered Care. Refers to the National goal, shared by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, to build systems of care for children with special health care needs and their families. This system of care is family-centered, culturally competent, community-based and coordinated and recognizes the pivotal role families play as the center of strength and support in the care of their child with special health care needs.


Family Support Services. The services provided to families who maintain their disabled members at home which enable them to provide the extra care required. Services may include respite care, counseling, adaptive equipment, specialized transportation, support groups, information and training.


FAPE. Free appropriate public education, the term used by the IDEA to describe the education to which children with disabilities are entitled.


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). A pattern of physical and mental birth defects that are the direct result of a mother drinking alcohol while pregnant. Clinical features include prenatal and postnatal growth deficiency, CNS dysfunction, a particular pattern of facial characteristics and major organ system malformations.


Figure-ground Discrimination. The process of distinguishing an object from its background.


Fine Motor. The use of small muscle groups for controlled movements, particularly in object manipulation. Such as movements our hands make, how we hold onto things, move our fingers, etc.


Fine Motor Development/Skills. Development of precise and delicate abilities such as reaching, grasping, and the manipulation of small objects.


Fluency. The flow of a child's connected speech; dysfluency is also known as stuttering.


Fluency Disabilities. Speech problems where the natural flow and rhythm of speaking is excessively interrupted, often by frequent pauses, prolongation of sounds, repetitions, or unrelated sounds.


Foster Care. A residential alternative to long term care. As a Medicaid Waiver program, it is available to Medicaid eligible individuals in need of ICF or SNF level of care. Individual families are recruited and trained to provide long term care in private homes. Case management is an integral component, providing monitoring, oversight, supervision, and training to foster caregivers.


Foster Grandparent Program. A program established by the federal government to provide individual attention to children.


Foster Home. A home provided for children or adults within a single family unit other than the person’s own family.


FPL. Federal Poverty Level, the threshold used as a basis for determining Medicaid eligibility.


Fragile X Syndrome. Chromosomal abnormality of the X chromosome, associated with mental retardation, hyperactivity, enlarged testes and rambling perseverative speech.


Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). A key requirement of the federal legislation, Public Law 94-142, which requires that special education and related services are provided to all eligible children, and meet the following requires: (a) Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (b) Meet the standards of the state board of education and the laws pertaining thereto; (c) Include preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, and secondary school education; and (d) Are provided in conformity with an individualized educational program (IEP).


Functional Age. An individual's level of ability to perform various tasks relative to the average age of others who can perform the same tasks.


Functional Articulation Disorders. Refers to articulation problems that are not due to structural defects or neurological problems, but are more likely the result of environmental or psychological influences.


Functional Education. The teaching of basic life skills with a great deal of structure in the learning situation.

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