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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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MACWIS. Maine Automated Child Welfare Information System, the information system used by BCFS.


MADSEC. Maine Association of Directors of Services to Exceptional Children

Mainstream. The usual educational placement of a child. To mainstream a child is to place him in a regular class or something approaching it, rather than in a self-contained special class. See also "mainstreaming".


Mainstreaming. Purposeful, planned efforts to integrate persons with disabilities into the “mainstream” of society. This term is usually used in a school setting to refer to the integration of students with disabilities in classrooms of students without disabilities. (See "Inclusion".)


Major Depressive Episode. A mood disorder with a depressed mood that may accompany a manic episode.


Major Life Activities. Functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.


Managed Care. A healthcare service delivery system whose goal is to provide quality, effective health care services to its members in a cost effective manner.


Manic. A type of bipolar disorder that is characterized by excitement, euphoria, expansive or irritable mood, hyperactivity, pressured speech, flight of ideas, decreased need for sleep, distractibility and impaired judgment. Delusions consistent with elation and grandiosity may be present.


Manual Dexterity. The coordination of the hands and fingers needed to complete the fine motor tasks.


MAS. Maine Advocacy Services


Maturation Lag. A slowness in certain specialized aspects of neurological development.


MAYCSN. Maine Association for Young Children With Special Needs


MBD. See "minimal brain dysfunction".


MCDH. Maternal and Child Health


MD. See "muscular dystrophy".


MDC. See "multidisciplinary conference".


MECARE. The electronic version of MED.


MED. Medical Eligibility Determination, the assessment tool used by DHHS to assess a person’s eligibility for nursing facility services.


Medicaid. A government-sponsored health insurance program in the United States which provides payment for medical expenses and hospital care for those who meet income and disability guidelines.

Medicaid Covered Service. A medically necessary service which will be paid for by the Medicaid Program. Information regarding Medicaid covered services may be obtained from the OIAS.


Medicaid Eligibility. Established criteria to determine if a person is eligible for the Medicaid Program. Information regarding eligibility criteria may be obtained from the OIAS.


Medical Home. An approach to providing health care services in a high-quality and cost-effective manner that partners pediatric health care professionals (beginning with the primary care physician) with parents to identify and access all the medical and non-medical services needed to help children with special health care needs and their families achieve maximum potential.


Medically Complex. A description of an individual who has chronic, debilitating diseases or conditions involving one or more physiological or organ systems which generally make the individual dependent on 24-hour per day medical, nursing, health supervision, or intervention.


Medically Fragile. A description of an individual who is medically complex and whose medical condition is such that they are technologically dependent through medical apparatus or procedures to sustain life and who can, without warning unless consistently under observation, expire.


Medically Necessary. The use of any medical treatment, service, equipment or supply necessary to palliate the effects of a terminal condition, or to prevent, diagnose, correct, cure, alleviate, or preclude deterioration of a condition that threatens life, causes pain or suffering, or results in illness or infirmity and which is: a. consistent with the symptom, diagnosis, and treatment of the members’ condition; b. provided in accordance with generally accepted standards of medical practice; c. not primarily intended for the convenience of the member, the member’s family, or the health care provider; d. the most appropriate level of supply or service for the diagnosis and treatment of the member’s condition; and e. approved by the appropriate medically body or health care specialty involved as effective, appropriate, and essential for the care and treatment of the member’s condition.


Medical Social Services. If a patient is having difficulty adjusting to physical, psychological, financial, environmental, or familial limitations which inhibit his or her recovery from an illness or injury, a medical social worker (MSW) may provide advice and counsel, and instruct in the utilization of appropriate community resources.


Medicare. An individual is eligible for Medicare if he/she is 65 or older, or has chronic renal disease, or is disabled. Medicare mainly provides for acute services and 90 days of skilled care.


Memory. Ability to remember things that happened a short or long time ago. Also referred to as "imagery" or "recall".


Mental Age. A child's age equivalent score on tests of mental ability. Mental age may or may not be equivalent to chronological age.


Mental Disorder. In DSM-III, a mental disorder is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychologic syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that typically is associated with either a painful symptom (distress) or impairment in one or more important areas of functioning (disability). There is also an inference of a behavioral, psychological or biological dysfunction, and of disturbance beyond the relationship between the individual and society. A disturbance limited to a conflict between an individual and society may represent social deviance, which may or may not be commendable, but it is not by itself a mental disorder.

Mental Retardation (MR). Having significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning (refers to scores obtained on intelligence tests) existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior (refers to a person's adjustment to everyday life) and manifested during the development period, which adversely affects a child's educational performance. Difficulties may occur in learning communication, social, academic, vocational, and independent living skills.


Mental Status. The level and style of functioning of the psyche, including a person's intellectual functioning and emotional, attitudinal, psychological and personality aspects. The term is commonly used to refer to the results of the examination of the patient's mental state.


Mental Status Examination. The process of estimating psychological and behavioral function by observing the patient, eliciting his description of self and formally questioning him. Included in the examination are: (1) evaluation and assessment of any psychiatric condition, including provisional diagnosis and prognosis and determination of degree of impairment, suitability for treatment and indications for particular types of therapeutic intervention; (2) formulation of the personality structure of the subject, which may suggest the historical and developmental antecedents of whatever psychiatric condition exists; (3) estimation of the ability and willingness to participate appropriately in treatment. The mental status is reported in a series of narrative statements describing such things as affect, speech, thought content, perception and cognitive functions. The mental status examination is part of the general examination of all patients, although it may be greatly abbreviated in the absence of psychopathology.


Mentally Impaired. Mentally retarded. See "Mental Retardation".


Microencephaly. A condition in which the head and brain are significantly smaller than normal for age and sex (head circumference less than the 5th percentile for age). May be associated with mental retardation.


Midline. The middle of the body; head in midline refers to the head in alignment with the spine.


Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD). A medical term used to indicate a delay or mild neurological disorder in the ability to perform sensory or motor functions appropriately. Can be a result of brain injury, and is a common source of learning difficulties in the child with near-average intelligence.


Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI or MMPI-2). A personality assessment tool widely used in making psychological evaluations. Normally given to persons 16-18 years of age and older.


Modality. The pathways through which an individual receives information and thereby learns. The "modality concept" postulates that some individuals learn better through one modality than through another. For example, the child may receive data better through the visual modality (by seeing it) than through his auditory modality (by hearing it).


Modeling. A teaching process wherein the instructor demonstrates the appropriate behavior or skill to be learned as a means of teaching.


Mood. A pervasive and sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly colors the person's perception of the world. Mood is to affect as climate is to weather. Common examples of mood include depression, elation, anger, and anxiety.


Mood-congruent Psychotic Features. Delusions or hallucinations whose content is entirely consistent with either a depressed or a manic mood. If the mood is depressed, the content of the delusion or hallucinations would involve themes of either personal inadequacy, guilt, disease, death or nihilism or deserved punishment. If the mood is manic, the content of the delusions or hallucinations would involve themes of inflated worth, power, knowledge or identity or special relationship to a deity or a famous person.


Mood-incongruent Psychotic Features. Delusions or hallucinations whose content is not consistent with either a depressed or a manic mood. Examples of such symptoms are persecutory delusions, thought insertion, thought broadcasting and delusions of being controlled, whose content has no apparent relationship to those seen in the mood-congruent psychotic features. (Note: the catatonic symptoms of stupor, mutism, negativism and posturing in manic episodes are also considered mood-incongruent psychotic features.)


Moro Reflex. The "startle" reflex seen in infants. It is the reaction of infants to a variety of stimuli (i.e., when a table that an infant is lying on is bumped) which is characterized by a sudden extension and abduction of arms, hands and fingers from their usual fixed posture; the legs may follow the same movement pattern. It is present at birth and is strongest during the first three months of life.


Motor. Movement of muscles and joints.


Motor Development/Skills. The skills and performance of patterns related to the development and use of muscles or limbs. The development of motor skills are prerequisites to self help and play performance.


Motor Planning/Praxis. The ability of the brain to conceive of, plan, organize, and carry out a sequence of new motor acts in response to an environmental demand.


MPF. Maine Parent Federation


MPHP. Medicaid Preventive Health Program


MR. Mental retardation


MS. Multiple Sclerosis


MSW. Indicates a master's degree in social work.


MTA. Maine Teachers’ Association


Multidisciplinary Evaluation/Assessment. An evaluation of a child's strengths and weaknesses from a variety of professional vantage points using a number of different sources of information, and involving the child's parents. Typically, the child's present levels of physical, neurological, cognitive, speech and language, psychosocial development, and self-help skills are assessed.


Multidisciplinary. Refers to 2 or more professionals (like educators, psychologists, and others) working together and sharing information in the evaluation, assessment, and development of an IFSP or IEP.


MDC. Multidisciplinary Conference. Refers to two or more professionals (like educators, psychologists, and others) working together and sharing information in the evaluation, assessment, and development of an IEP. A Multidisciplinary Conference is the meeting held to determine eligibility for special education services. It must be held prior to the IEP conference. The meeting can be comprised of parents, professionals, a representative of the local school district, the director of special education or the individual appropriately designated, those persons who may provide services for the child, the child when appropriate and/or requested by the parent, and others chosen to attend by the district or parent.


Multihandicapped. Having two or more impairments, such as mentally retarded-blind, mentally retarded-orthopedically impaired, etc., the combination of which causes such severe education problems that the student cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blind students.


Multiple Sclerosis. An unpredictable, potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system caused by hardening of patches of the brain and spinal cord. Onset usually occurs from age 20 to 40, resulting in difficulties walking, talking, sensing, seeing, and grasping.


Muscular Dystrophy (MD). The term for a group of long-lasting disabilities which involve the weakening of the muscles which control movement. The age when it begins, the muscles first affected, and the rate at which more and more muscles are involved vary with different types of dystrophy. For the most part the dystrophies are hereditary, passed from generation to generation.


Musculoskeletal. Includes the bones, joints, and surrounding soft tissue such as the skin, muscles, ligaments, and joint capsules.


Myoclonic Seizure. A type of seizure that is characterized by short, isolated shocklike jerks (contractions) involving parts of a muscle, an entire muscle, or groups of related muscles.

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NADDC. National Association of Developmental Disabilities Councils


NARC. National Association for Retarded Citizens


Neonatal. The first four weeks after a child's birth.


Neurological. Pertaining to the nervous system.


Neurological Dysfunction/Impairment. The inability to perform sensory or motor functions appropriately, due to damage or deficiency in the nervous system of the body.


Neurologist. A medical doctor who has special training in the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the brain and nervous systems. Neurologists often see children who have seizures or are known to have had brain damage.


Neuromotor. Refers to that portion of the human nervous system which implements or carries out the actual responses.


Neuroses. Behavior that involves a partial disorganization, characterized by combinations of anxieties, compulsions, obsessions, and phobias.


Neurosurgeon. A doctor who is trained in surgery of the brain and the nervous system. Neurosurgeons, for example, often are called upon to insert or replace shunts used to drain excess fluids from the brain in children who have hydrocephalus.


Neurotic Disorder. A mental disorder in which the predominant disturbance is a symptom or group of symptoms distressing to the individual, recognized by him as unacceptable and alien (ego-dystonic); reality testing is grossly intact. Behavior does not actively violate gross social norms (though it may be quite disabling). The disturbance is relatively enduring or recurrent without treatment, and is not limited to a transitory reaction to stressors. There is no proven organic etiology or factor. See "Neuroses".


Newborn Metabolic Screening Program. The statewide program by which all newborns are screened for selected metabolic, endocrine and genetic disorders.


NF. Nursing Facility.


Noncompliant/Noncompliance. Not following directions or rules. 1. Pertaining to children who exhibit troublesome behaviors, this term refers to follow directions. 2. Pertaining to service delivery, this term refers to an agency's not meeting the requirements of the law or regulations.


Nondiscriminatory and Multidisciplinary Assessment. One of the provisions of Public Law 94-142. This component requires that testing be in a child's native or primary language; procedures are selected and administered to prevent cultural or racial discrimination; assessment tools used are validated for the purpose they are being used; and that assessment is conducted by a multidisciplinary team using several pieces of information to formulate a placement decision.


Norm-based. See "Norm-referenced Assessment".


Norm-referenced Assessment. Refers to assessment where a person's performance is compared with the average of a larger group.


Normal. A general term applied to behavior or abilities that fall within the average range; that which is considered acceptable, not exceptional.


Normalization. Placing persons with disabilities in the least restrictive environment, one whose conditions of daily life are as close to possible as the patterns of the mainstream society.


Normal Reflexes. A primitive reflex persisting beyond the appropriate age which interferes with development beyond that level. Fetal or neonatal responses that are simple, predictable, resulting from tactile and vestibular stimulation.


Norms. Statistics that describe the test performance of specified groups, such as children of various ages or handicapping conditions in the standardization sample of a test.


NRA. National Rehabilitation Association


Nurse Aide. Provides personal care including assistance with ambulation, bathing, dressing and meal preparation.


Nursing Homes. Provides long term care for those with considerable assistance needs. Services include medical, nursing, personal care, social and ADL assistance. Generally reserved for persons who do not need acute care but require more attention than is provided in an


Assisted Living Facility.


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OACPDS. Office of Cognitive and Physical Disabilities Services.


Objectives. The small steps taken to meet goals.


Occupational Therapy (OT). Needed if a patient has suffered an injury or illness which has affected perceptual motor skills or the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL), such as dressing, bathing, toileting, eating or meal preparation. The occupational therapy program may consist of evaluation, ADL training, adaptive equipment recommendations, to maximize potential in perceptual motor and daily activity skills. Typically, this service is considered skilled care.


Occupational Therapist (OT). A person who practices occupational therapy and who may be licensed, registered, certified, or otherwise regulated by law. See "occupational therapy" for more information on what an occupational therapist is trained to provide.


Ocular. Pertaining to the eye.


OCFS. Office of Child and Family Services


OES. Office of Elder Services


OIAS. Office of Integrated Access and Support


OIF. Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation


Omissions. An articulation error that occurs when not all of the sounds in a word are articulated. This type of articulation problem is frequently described as infantile. Some sounds are omitted more frequently than others, and the position within a word can affect the presence or omission of a particular sound.


Oppositional Disorder. The covert display of underlying aggression by patterns of obstinate, but generally passive behavior. Children with this disorder often provoke adults or other children by the use of negativism, stubbornness, dawdling, procrastination, and other behaviors.


Ophthalmologist. A medical doctor who diagnoses and treats disease, infections, injuries, or birth defects that affect vision.

Ophthalmologists can prescribe and administer treatment such as medication, correct defects (such as "lazy eye"), laser therapy, microsurgery, and corrective lenses.


Optician. A person trained to grind, shape, and assemble lenses and frames for eye glasses which have been prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.


Optometrist. Doctors of Optometry (OD's) who specialize in eye examinations for vision problems; prescribe eye glasses, contact lenses, and vision exercises; and provide counseling and special devices for low-vision problems. optometrists are not medical doctors, and they do not treat disease.


Oral Motor. Coordinate oropharyngeal musculature for controlled movements.


OSA. Office of Substance Abuse Services, the state office responsible for providing substance abuse treatment services.


OSADS. Office of Substance Abuse Data Systems.


Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is one of several bone diseases that occur with more frequency in elderly patients. It may occur in both men and women, but it is more common and begins somewhat earlier in women. Osteoporosis is a decline in bone mass. Fractures may occur with no more stress than is created during the usual activities of daily living. At greatest risk for this illness are white or Asian women who have had early menopause or have undergone surgical removal of the ovaries.


Other Health Impaired. Having limited strength, vitality or alertness because of chronic or acute health problems, such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia or diabetes, which adversely affect a student's educational performance. Autistic students should be included in this category.


Otitis Media. Excessive fluid, inflammation, and/or infection in the middle ear, caused by an inability to drain out through the eustachian tube. If not detected, it can cause hearing loss significant enough to affect the child's speech and language development.


Otologist. One who is involved in the study of the ear and its diseases.


Otology. The medical specialty that deals particularly with disorders of the ear and related structure.

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P&A. Protection and Advocacy


P.L. 94-142. See "Public Law 94-142".


Panic Attacks. Discrete periods of sudden onset of intense apprehension, fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom. During the attacks there are such symptoms as dyspnea (shortness of breath), palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations and fear of going crazy or losing control. Panic attacks are characteristic of panic disorder, but may also occur in somatization disorder, major depression and schizophrenia.


Paranoia. A rare condition characterized by the gradual development of an intricate, complex and elaborate system of thinking based on (and often proceeding logically from) misinterpretation of an actual event. A person with paranoia often considers himself endowed with unique and superior ability. Despite its chronic course, this condition does not seem to interfere with thinking and personality. To be distinguished from schizophrenia, paranoid type.


Paranoid Ideation. Ideation, of less than delusional proportions, involving suspiciousness or the belief that one is being harassed, persecuted or unfairly treated. The term is sometimes used when the clinician is unsure whether the disturbances are actually delusional. Ideas of reference often involve paranoid ideation.


Paranoid Personality Disorder. Pervasive and long-standing suspiciousness and mistrust of others; hypersensitivity and scanning of environment for clues that selectively validate prejudices, attitudes, or biases. Stable psychotic features such as delusions and hallucinations are absent.


Paranoid Schizophrenia. Characterized by a persistence of or preoccupation with persecutory or grandiose delusions, or hallucinations with a persecutory or grandiose content. In addition, there may be delusions of jealousy.


Paraplegia. Paralysis that involves the legs only.


Parent. A parent, a guardian, a person acting as a parent of a child, or a surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with the law, but not the state if the child is a ward of the state.


Parent/Child Interaction. Parental subsystem is composed of interactions between parents and their child. The relationship that occurs among parent/child on a daily/weekly basis. These relationships, the process of interaction, are responsive to individual and family needs.


Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s disease is caused by changes in a portion of the brain. The cause of this disease is not well understood. A few cases occur after viral infections, but the interval between infection and onset of Parkinson’s disease may be very long. Most cases occur after the age of 50. The most visible sign of the disease is a tremor. The tremor may affect only one side of the body in the early stages. Parkinsonian tremor may involve one or both hands, fingers, arms, legs, head or the mouth. Mobility disturbances and depression are consequences of this disease.


Passive-aggressive Personality Disorder. Aggressive behavior manifested in passive ways such as obstructionism, pouting, procrastination, intentional inefficiency and obstinacy. The aggression often arises from resentment at failing to find gratification in a relationship with an individual or institution upon which the individual is overdependent.


PATH. Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, a federally sponsored program providing services to homeless persons.


Pathology. Alterations in an organism caused by disease.


PCA. Personal Care Attendant.


PCMR. President’s Committee on Mental Retardation.


PDD. See "pervasive developmental disorder".


Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised (PPVT-R). A testing instrument which assesses comprehension of single spoken words through a picture pointing task.


Pediatric RN. A registered nurse specializing in the care of children.


Pediatrician. A medical doctor who specializes in the general health care, childhood diseases, and treatments of infants and young children.


Peer Review. An evaluation of the professional practices of a provider by peers of the provider in order to assess the necessity, appropriateness, and quality of care furnished as such care is compared to that customarily furnished by the provider’s peers and to recognized health care standards.


Peer Tutor. A peer who "teachers" and/or develops a skill with a student having a disability. The peer takes an active role in helping expand the student's skills. The peer tutor, participates in the IEP process and can actually be assigned team member status based on the level of involvement they have with the student having a disability.


Perception. A person's ability to consciously recognize and interpret what is seen, heard, or felt. More specifically, the process of organizing or interpreting the raw data (stimuli) obtained through the senses.


Perceptual Disorders/Handicaps. The inability to interpret stimuli received stimuli through one or more of the senses (despite adequate vision, hearing, and other sensory processes) and then to perform appropriate actions in response to those stimuli.


Perceptual Motor. An individual's ability to interpret stimuli received through the senses, and then perform appropriate movements or motor actions in response to those stimuli. The motor activity reflects what is happening to the sensory organs such as the visual, auditory, tactual and kinesthetic sensations. Perceptual motor skills emerge after the sensory input systems are stabilized, during the fifth through the seventh year of life. Also referred to as "sensorimotor".


Perinatal. Pertaining to or occurring in the period of time shortly before and after the birth of an infant (28 weeks gestation to 1-4 months of age).


Peripheral Nervous System. The parts of the nervous system that are outside the brain and spinal cord.


Perseveration. 1. The tendency to continue an activity once it has been started and to be unable to modify or stop the activity even though it is acknowledged to have become inappropriate. 2. Persistent repetition of words, ideas of subjects so that, once an individual begins speaking about a particular subject or uses a particular word, it continually recurs. Perseveration differs from the repetitive use of "stock words" or interjections such as "you know" or "like". Perseveration is most commonly seen in organic mental disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.


Personal Assistance. One or more persons assisting another person with tasks the individual would typically do if he or she did not have a disability. It includes assistance with activities of daily living, etc.


Personality. The characteristic way in which individuals behave and respond to various environments.


Personality Disorders. 1. Behavior disorders in which an individual is overly anxious, extremely shy, or unusually sad much of the time. 2. Deeply ingrained, inflexible, maladaptive patterns of relating, perceiving, and thinking of sufficient severity to cause either impairment in functioning or distress. Personality disorders are generally recognizable by adolescence or earlier, continued throughout adulthood, and become less obvious in middle or old age. Some personality disorders cited in DSM-III are: antisocial, borderline, compulsive, dependent, histrionic, narcissistic, paranoid, passive-aggressive, schizoid, and schzotypal.


Person-Centered. Approach to planning services and supports for an individual with disabilities which supports the person in identifying choices, making decisions based upon those choices, and then honoring those decisions.


Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). 1. Extreme distortions or delays in the development of social behavior and language. 2. A term used to describe drug exposure to children while in the womb. Results of this exposure can cause extremely short attention spans. Behavior disorders, limited or no processing skills, and/or difficulty understanding spoken words.


PET. Pupil Evaluation Team (Department of Education), the team responsible for developing the special education service plan for children age 5 to 20.


Petit Mal Seizures. Seizures characterized by brief periods of inattention, with rapid eye-blinking or head-twitching.


Ph.D. Indicates a doctoral degree in any of a wide range of disciplines (sociology, psychology, anthropology, mathematics, etc.).


Phenothiazines. Drugs that affect neurochemicals in the brain and are used to control behavior.


Phenylalanine. A substance found in foods such as milk, which, when not processed, can cause damage to the central nervous system.


Phenylketonuria (PKU). An inherited disease that affects the way the body is able to process food it takes in. It can be detected through a routine screening soon after birth, and can cause mental retardation if strict diet management is not instituted. Children with PKU can't metabolize a part of protein called phenylalanine, which then collects in the blood stream. This abnormal build-up of phenylalanine can prevent the brain from developing as it should. Children with PKU often are irritable, restless, and destructive. They may have a musty odor about them, and often have dry skin or rashes. Some have convulsions. Usually, they become physically well-developed children and have blonder hair than their relatives.


PHN. Public Health Nurse


Phobia. A persistent, irrational fear that results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity or situation (the phobic stimulus). More commonly, the individual does actually avoid the feared activity, situation or object, though he recognizes that the fear is unreasonable and unwarranted by actual dangerousness. Some individuals with a phobia claim that their avoidance is rational because they anticipate overwhelming anxiety or some other strong emotion that is out of their control; they do not claim; however, that their anxiety is rationally justified.


Phocomelia. Defective development of the limbs so that the hands and/or feet are attached close to the body and resemble flippers.


Phonation. The utterance of vocal sounds - the voice - produced in the larynx or "voice box".


Phonic Generalization. Refers to the ability to generalize information related to sounds from one word or configuration to another, predicting that which might follow, in order to approximate proper spelling.


Phonological Impairment. A common speech disorder also known as misarticulation. Here the child says the sounds wrong, or omits or duplicates certain sounds within a word. The problem may reflect poor neurological motor skills, a learning error, or difficulty in identifying certain speech sounds. Examples of common errors are "wabbit" for "rabbit", "thnake" for "snake", "dood" for "good", and "poo" for "spoon". Another phonological impairment is unstressed syllable deletion, in which a child simply skips over a syllable in a long word, as in "nana" for "banana", or "te-phone" for "telephone". Many of these misproductions are a part of normal development and are expected in the speech of very young children, but when they persist past the expected age they are considered abnormal and usually indicate brain dysfunction.


Phonological Process Analysis. The evaluation process in which the patterns of speech errors are carefully analyzed to determine if a developmental phonological disorder may be present.


Phonology. The system of speech sounds that an individual utters.


PHP. Preventive Health Program agency; one of the local provider agencies under contract by OCFS to provide assessment services to children in protective custody.


Physical Development. Growth. Biogenetically based changes in a child's physical characteristics, including changes in weight, height, skeletal and muscular features, and maturation of the circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems.


Physical Disorders. Bodily impairments that interfere with an individual's mobility, coordination, communication, learning, and/or personal adjustment.


Physical Education (PE). The development of physical and motor fitness, and fundamental motor skills and patterns through individual and group games and sports, including intramural and lifetime sports, special physical education, adapted physical education, movement education, and motor development.


Physical or Mental Impairment. Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal and special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The term includes such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy; multiple sclerosis; cancer; heart disease; diabetes; drug abuse; and alcoholism.


Physical Therapist (PT). A person who is licensed to assist in the examination, testing, and treatment of persons who are physically disabled or handicapped through the use of special exercise, application of heat or cold, use of sonar waves, and other techniques. A physical therapist usually becomes qualified by taking a 4-year college course leading to a B.S. in physical therapy or a special 12-month certificate course after obtaining a bachelor's degree in a related field.


Physical Therapy. Needed if a patient has suffered an injury or illness which has affected motor skills or function. The physical therapy program may consist of evaluation, therapeutic exercises, gait training, adaptive equipment recommendations, massage, heat, cold or electrical treatments, all geared toward helping the patient attain his/her maximum functional motor potential. Typically, this service is considered skilled care. In the long-term care setting, they may assist with gentle bed exercises to keep joints flexible and help prevent muscle contractures.


Pica. The craving and eating of unusual foods or other substances. Seen in a variety of medical conditions, pregnancy, and emotional disturbances.


Pincer Grasp. Bringing together the thumb and the tip of the index finger so that an object is held deftly.


PL. Public Law


Placement. The classroom, program, and/or therapy that is selected for a student with special needs.


Plan of Care. A written document signed by the physician or other licensed health professional. It outlines the prescribed care that is to be given to the patient.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Anxiety disorder following a traumatic event.


Poverty of Content of Speech. Speech that is adequate in amount, but conveys little information because of vagueness, empty repetitions, or use of stereotyped or obscure phrases. The interviewer may observe that the individual has spoken at some length, but has not given enough information to answer a question. Alternatively, the individual may provide enough information, but requires many words to do so, so that his lengthy reply can be summarized in a sentence or two. The term poverty of content of speech is generally not used when the speech is, for the most part, not understandable (incoherence).


Poverty of Speech. Restriction in the amount of speech, so that spontaneous speech and replies to questions are brief and unelaborated. When the condition is severe, replies may be monosyllabic (one syllable) and some questions may be unanswered. Poverty of speech occurs frequently in schizophrenia, major depressive episodes and organic mental disorders, such as dementia.


PPVT-R. See "Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised".


Pragmatic. A component of language that is concerned with the use of language in social contexts, including rules that govern language functions and forms of messages when communicating.


Prenatal. The time before birth, while a baby is developing during pregnancy. The period of time between the conception and birth of an infant.


Pre-School Program. A program or nursery school education with emphasis on developing self-help, movement, communication and other skills.


Prevention. Activities which address the causes of developmental disabilities and the exacerbation of functional limitations, such as activities which - (A) eliminate or reduce the factors which cause or predispose persons to developmental disabilities or which increases the prevalence of developmental disabilities; (B) increase the early identification of existing problems to eliminate circumstances that create or increase functional limitations; and (C) mitigate against the effects of developmental disabilities throughout the person's lifespan.


Prevocational Training Programs. Programs designed to provide attitudinal and motivational services to students prior to their entering vocational preparatory programs. Programs may also include basic skills development, assessment of student needs, abilities, aptitudes, and interests in relation to vocational education and jobs, as well as guidance and counseling services.


Primary Care. Comprehensive, coordinated and readily accessible medical care, including health promotion and maintenance, treatment of illness and injury, early detection of disease, and referral to specialists when appropriate.


Primary Care Physician (PCP). A physician who is a family practitioner, pediatrician who furnishes primary care and patient management services.


Primary Diagnosis. Reflects the principle medical, developmental or mental/behavioral health diagnosis that is used to determine eligibility for a program or benefit.


Private Duty Nursing. Nursing services provided in the home or in a facility exclusively to an individual primarily for observation and support and requiring a minimal degree of skilled interventions.


Private Therapist. Any professional (therapist, tutor, psychologist, etc.) not connected with the public school system or with a public agency.


Procedural Safeguards. 1. Laws that protect the rights of children with disabilities and their families. 2. The requirements of a law, for instance, IDEA requires that children with disabilities be served in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their educational needs. Non-discriminatory testing and use of multiple criteria in the determination of placement.


Process Schizophrenia. A type of schizophrenia attributed more to organic factors than to environmental ones; typically begins gradually, continues chronically, and progresses (either rapidly or slowly) to an irreversible psychosis. Contrast with reactive schizophrenia.


Professionals. Medical specialists, day care providers, hospital and school personnel, early intervention program staff, speech therapist, OT, PT, psychologists, etc.


Profound Handicap. An extreme level of limitation imposed on an individual by the environment and the person's capacity to cope with that limitation.


Profound/Multiple Disorders. See "Severe and Profound/Multiple Disorders".


Prognosis. A forecast as to the recovery or outcome of a condition or disease.


Progam(s). In special education, a service, placement, and/or therapy designed to help a child with special needs.


Progressive. 1. A gradual worsening. 2. As pertains to a regressive hearing loss, the amount of loss continues to regress over time.


Prone/Pronation. Lying on the stomach, facing downward, forearm palm down.


Prosthetic Devices. Mechanical devices adapted to reproduce the form, and as far as possible, the function, of a lost or absent member. An example would be an artificial arm or leg.


Provider. A person or agency who delivers services to people with disabilities.


PSA. Personal Services Attendant.


Psychiatric Disabilities. Significant or psychological disorders that disrupt important areas of everyday functioning. Persons with psychiatric disabilities may show depression, hallucinations, delusions, anxiety including phobias, impulsivity, self-destructive behaviors, or feelings of inadequacy. The cause of psychiatric disabilities may be genetic, neurological, environmental or a combination of factors.


Psychiatric Nursing. Provided by nurses specifically trained and experienced in psychiatry. It includes observations and interventions related to the patient’s behavior, social interactions, and administration of medications, as well as instructions about these medications and their side effects.


Psychiatrist. A medical doctor who conducts screening, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, psychological, emotional, behavioral, and developmental, or organic disorders. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms of various mental disorders.


Psycho-social (Development). The psychological development of a person in relation to his or her social environment. Includes the formation and growth of two-way relationships with significant persons in their life, and the way in which one socially responds to the surrounding environment.


Psycho-therapist. A mental health professional who provides psychotherapy.


Psychoanalyst. A person who diagnoses and treats emotional disorders through special techniques that explore a patient's mental and emotional makeup.


Psychogenic Deafness. Auditory impairment which may result from emotional stress as an unconscious means of escape from an intolerable situation. Also referred to as conversion or hysterical deafness.


Psychological Services. Support to the family and child to facilitate functional psychological/behavioral characteristics (growth of relationships with caregivers and peers, socially responding to the environment, etc.).


Psychologist. An individual who is trained and licensed to research, evaluate, and provide treatment to individuals pertaining to their social, emotional, psychological, behavioral or developmental problems. A psychologist is not a medical doctor, and cannot prescribe medications. See also "clinical psychologist".


Psychology. Professional specialty or discipline concerned with mental processes and behavior.


Psychometrist. A professional who specializes in the administration of psychological tests, differentiated from a school psychologist in most areas by the fact that psychometrists emphasize collaboration in interventions to a lesser degree.


Psychometry. The broad field of psychological and mental testing.


Psychomotor Agitation. Excessive motor activity associated with a feeling of inner tension; the activity is usually nonproductive and repetitious. When the agitation is severe, it may be accompanied by shouting or loud complaining. The term should be used in a technical sense to refer only to states of tension or restlessness that are accompanied by observable excessive motor activity. Examples: Inability to sit still, pacing, wringing of hands, pulling at clothes.


Psychomotor Retardation. 1. A slowed development of abilities to perform acts involving cognitive and physical processes. 2. A generalized slowing down of physical reactions, movements and speech.


Psychomotor Seizure. A type of seizure in which the child displays inappropriate, purposeless behavior (such as lip smacking, chewing, or other automatic reactions) for the setting and automatic or involuntary movements and actions.


Psychosis. A general term used to describe any of several mental disorders characterized by social withdrawal, distortions of reality, delusions, hallucinations, illusions, loss of contact with environment, disintegration of the personality, and unclear thinking to the degree that any one of these interferes with the capacity to cope with the demands of everyday life.


Psychotherapist. A mental health professional who provides psychotherapy.


Psychotherapy. A broad term applied to a variety of approaches to the treatment of mental and emotional disorders.


Psychotic. A term indicating gross impairment in reality testing. It may be used to describe the behavior of an individual at a given time or a mental disorder in which at some time during its course all individuals with the disorder have grossly impaired reality testing. When there is gross impairment in reality testing, the individual incorrectly evaluates the accuracy of his or her perceptions and thoughts and makes incorrect inferences about external reality, even in the face of contrary evidence. The term psychotic does not apply to minor distortions of reality that involve matters of relative judgment. For example, a depressed person who underestimated his achievements would not be described as psychotic, whereas one who believed he had caused a natural catastrophe would be so described. In DSM-IV the psychotic disorders include pervasive developmental disorders, schizophrenic and paranoid disorders, psychotic disorders not elsewhere classified, some organic mental disorders, and some affective disorders.


PT. See "physical therapist" or "physical therapy".


Public Agency. An agency, office, or organization that is supported by public funds and serves the community at large.


Public Law 94-142 (P.L. 142). A law passed in 1975 requiring that public schools provide a "free, appropriate public education" to school-aged children ages 3-21 (exact ages depend on your state's mandate - SD is 3-21), regardless of handicapping condition. Originally referred to as the Education for All Handicapped Children's Act (EHA), and reauthorized as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


Public Law 96-272 (P.L. 96-272). Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. Federal law outlining procedures for the placement of children out of home by state child welfare agencies.


Public Law 96-398 (P.L. 96-398). Mental Health Systems Act (1980) encourages the development of systems of care. Policies contained in the Act received no specific funding.


Public Law 99-319 (P.L. 99-319). Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986. Federal law allocating funds to each state for advocacy activities on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities or mental illness.


Public Law 99-457 (P.L. 99-457). A federal law providing free and appropriate education and "related services" to preschool age children with handicaps, and an optional Part H program for states to provide early intervention and related services to eligible infants and toddlers, birth - two years of age who have developmental disabilities. This law is amendment to P.L. 99-142, passed in 1986.


Public Law 99-660 (P.L. 99-660). Comprehensive Mental Health Services Act provides for statewide intervention services for children and adolescents with mental health concerns. The primary characteristic affecting children is the development and implementation of CASSP programs in local communities.


Pull-out. A term applied to interventions that remove a student with a disability from the regular classroom to a separate class for at least part of the school day.


Pure Tone Audiometry. Audiometric evaluation using tones that are free of external noise.


Pure Word Deafness. See "aphasia".

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