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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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Tactile. Sense of touch.


Tactile Defensiveness. Not being able to tolerate being touched or touching things with texture.


Tactile Perception. The ability to interpret and give meaning to sensory stimuli that are experienced through the sense of touch.


Tactile Speech Indicator (TSI). A communication device that enables a person who is blind and has good speech to communicate on the telephone.


Tactile System. Interpret light touch, pressure, temperature, pain, vibration, and two-point stimuli - through skin/contact receptors.


Tactual Sign. A form of sign language in which signs are made while individuals face each other and hold hands to feel the movement.


TANF. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, an income support program for households with children.


TAPS. See "Test of Auditory Perceptual Skills".


Tardive Dyskinesia. A variable complex of choreiform or athetoid movements developing in patients exposed to antipsychotic drugs. Typical movements include tongue-writhing or protrusion, chewing, lip-puckering, choreiform finger movements, toe and ankle movements, leg-jiggling, or movements of neck, trunk and pelvis. These movements may be either mild or severe and may occur along or in many combinations and permutations.


Task Analysis. Technique of examining a particular task to discover each individual part of it and the processes needed to perform it; the process of breaking down a task into small component parts.


TDD/TTY. Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf. A device similar to a computer keyboard, either with a cradle to rest a telephone handset on or connected directly to the telephone. A TDD allows the user to communicate by typing messages on the keyboard and receiving messages on the screen above the keyboard. This teletext device typewriter is usually referred to as a TTY by members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.


Test Bias. Unfairness in a testing procedure or instrument that gives one group a particular advantage or another disadvantage, which may be due to matters unrelated to ability, such as culture, sex, or race.


Test of Auditory Perceptual Skills (TAPS). A testing instrument designed to measure auditory skills of children 4 - 12 years of age. Subtests are used to test different areas, with an age equivalent of years and months being scored as results. Subtest 1: Auditory Number Memory (forward and reversed) is a measure of ability to retain and repeat a number series. Language ages in years and months for digits forward and digits reversed are scored. Subtest 2: Auditory Sentence Memory taps a child's ability to remember and repeat sentences. Subtest 3: Auditory Word Memory measures the ability to repeat a word series in the same sequence presented. Subtest 4: Auditory Interpretation of Directions measures auditory memory and sequencing and the ability to understand and interpret what is heard. Subtest 5: Auditory Word Discrimination assesses a child's ability auditorally to discriminate like pairs of words. Subtest 6: Auditory Processing measures the child's ability to understand a question and formulate a response.


Therapeutic Recreation. The provision of purposeful treatment or therapy (health restoration, remediation, rehabilitation, habilitation, education) which uses recreation and activities to promote improved functioning and to enhance optimal health and well being of persons who are limited in their functional abilities due to illness, disability, or other conditions.


Title V. A title of the federal Social Security Act that addresses services to children with special health care needs, women, infants, children, and adolescents.


Title XIX. A title of the federal Social Security Act relating to Medicaid.


Title XXI. A title of the federal Social Security Act relating to the provision of health insurance to low-income children. Low-income children are defined as those children residing in families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.


Token Reinforcement Systems. A system in which students may earn plastic chips, marbles, "checkmarks" or other tangible items that may be exchanged for activities, food items, special privileges, or other rewards for positive behavior changes. Also referred to as a "token economy".


Tone. Degree of muscular tension.


Tone Deafness. Inability to distinguish between two sounds of different frequencies within the normal hearing range when there is no apparent loss of acuity in these frequencies, as is being unable to tell whether oneself or another is singing "off key" or "on key".


Tongue Lateralization. Active movements of the tongue to the sides of the mouth to maintain and propel food between the biting surfaces during the chewing process; begins at about 6 to 7 months of age with horizontal shifts or gross rolling movements of the tongue when food is placed on the side gums.


Tongue Thrust. Moving the tongue through the lips when swallowing. Normally associated with suckling in infants less than 4 months of age. It is a common abnormal feeding pattern; a very forceful protrusion of the tongue from the mouth. This makes it difficult to inset the nipple or spoon and may cause the liquid or food to be pushed out of the mouth.


Tonic. The phase of a grand mal seizure that is marked by prolonged muscular contraction (rigidity).


Total Communication. A philosophy requiring the incorporation of appropriate aural, manual and oral modes of communication to ensure effective communication with and among hearing impaired people. This philosophy encourages the use of all viable methods. Within this system, not all methods are used to the same extent by all people and in all situations.


Totally Blind. Having no functional vision. This term is used in an educational context to describe a student with a severe visual impairment in which they learn via Braille or other non-visual media.


Tourette Syndrome. A condition characterized by involuntary, multiple motor movements and one or more vocalizations, usually referred to as tics. Motor tics usually involve the head, but may affect other parts of the body. Vocal tics may include the uttering of obscenities in rare cases.


Trainable. A level of mental retardation, based on educability expectation, which involves measured intelligence of 40 to 55, with learning primarily in self-help skill areas; some academic achievement; social adjustment often limited to home and closely surrounding area; vocational proficiencies include supported work in a community job or sheltered workshop.


Transition. The process of bridging the time and environments between two settings, programs, or life situations (e.g., from home to school, school to school, or from school/home to employment/independent living).


Transition Plan. A designed program outlining the transition of a person from school to adult life, by identifying the services needed for that specific individual, the activities that must occur during the school years, and the timelines and responsibilities for completion of these activities. See also "transition services".


Transition Services. A coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome oriented process, which promotes movement from school to integrated employment (including supported employment), postsecondary education, vocational training, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, and community participation. These activities shall: (a) be based upon the individual student's needs; (b) take into account students' preferences and interests; and (c) include, but not be limited to, instruction in community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and when appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation and services. See also "transition plan".


Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). An injury to the brain caused by external physical force and which may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness resulting in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning. These impairments may be either temporary or permanent and cause partial or total functional disability or psychological maladjustment.


Treatment Services. Services which stop, control, or reverse the processes which cause, make worse, or complicate disabilities.


Tremor. A motion or movement, which occurs in a limb, that is constant, involuntary, and uncontrollable.


Trisomy 21. A type of Down Syndrome in which the chromosomal pairs do not separate properly as the sperm or egg cells are formed, resulting in an extra chromosome on the twenty-first pair. Also called nondisjunction.


Tuberous Sclerosis. A condition involving lesions of the skin and brain. Its three main features are lesions of the skin (e.g., butterfly-like rash on the face), seizures that begin in infancy, and mental retardation.


Tuck In Service. A service that makes contact with an at-risk individual to make sure that he or she is not in any harm. This check is usually done in the evening and could be either a telephone call or a visit to the person’s home.


Tympanogram/Tympanometry. A graph showing the measurement of the ease with which sound flows through the eardrum membrane while air pressure against the eardrum is varied. It is a simple procedure that can be performed in most doctors' offices. Measures the movement of the eardrum, and can assist in determining if fluid or pressure is present in the middle ear.

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UAP. University Affiliated Program


UCPA. United Cerebral Palsy Association


Undifferentiated Schizophrenia. A condition manifested by definite signs of schizophrenic thought, affect and behavior that are of a sufficiently mixed or indefinite type that they defy classification into one of the other types of schizophrenia.


Unilateral. One sided. Affecting or occurring on only one side of the body.


Universal Design. An approach to accessibility that concentrates on making all aspects of an environment accessible to all people, regardless of their level of ability. Examples of universal design include level handles rather than round door knobs for doors; lower light switches; water controls located towards the outside of the tub; adjustable closet rods and shelves; dual-height water fountains; playground equipment accessible to all children, including those who use wheelchairs; and household items (e.g., microwave ovens, televisions, radios) with touch-sensitive controls.


U.S. DHHS. United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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Validity. The degree to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure. Validity tells us what we can infer from the test score.


Verbal Dyspraxia. A common speech disorder in which a person is unable to produce the sequential, rapid, and precise movements required for speech. Nothing is wrong with the child's vocal apparatus, but the child's brain cannot give correct instructions for the motor movements involved in speech. This disorder is characterized by many omissions. Some verbally dyspraxia children speak only in vowels, making their speech nearly intelligible, and have very slow, halting speech with many false starts before the right sounds are produced. Their speech errors may be similar to those of children with phonological impairment.


Verbalisms. The excessive use of speech (wordiness) in which individuals use words that have little meaning to them.


Vineland Social Maturity Scale. A standardized assessment procedure for evaluating adaptive behavior.


Visual Acuity. The sharpness or clearness of vision.


Visual Aids. Any materials or machines or actions that allow students to SEE information. Examples of visual aids are: chalkboards, overheads, filmstrips, TV/VCRs, pictures, films, pantomimes, and computers.


Visual Closure. The ability to identify an object from an incomplete visual presentation.


Visual Discrimination. The ability to match or determine exact characteristics of two forms when one of the forms is among similar forms. Distinguishing likenesses and differences between symbols.


Visual Disorder/Impairment. Having reduced vision in one or both eyes that results in difficulties with educational performance and/or an independent lifestyle. Visual losses may be classified by the degree of visual acuity, peripheral vision, and the ability to track, shift gaze, and scan. The terms partially sighted, low vision, legally blind and totally blind are used in the educational context to describe students with


visual impairments. Eye disorders which can lead to visual impairments can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal disorders, diabetic retinopathy, congenital disorders and infection.


Visual Figure Ground. Ability to separate at will an object from its surrounding background and hold the image while scanning the total pattern.


Visual Memory. The ability to remember for immediate recall (after 4 or 5 seconds) all of the characteristics of a given form and being able to find this form (recall) from an array of similar forms, or to recall in sequence what was seen for long or short periods of time.


Visual Motor Coordination/Integration. The ability to coordinate the eyes with the movements of the hand and/or body and the thought processes of the brain to achieve a specific motor task such as writing, sorting, and sewing.


Visual Perception. The capacity to identify, organize, and interpret or give meaning to what is seen.


Vocational Education/Instruction. Organized instruction which is designed to prepare individuals (upon its completion) for employment in a specific occupation or cluster of closely related occupations in an occupational field, and which is especially and particularly suited to the needs of those engaged in or preparing to engage in such occupation or occupations. Vocational instruction may also include exploratory programs.


Vocational Program. A planned sequence of instruction, courses, services, or activities designed to meet an occupational objective.


Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist. The professional who specializes in designing and implementing programs to help people with disabilities obtain and hold employment.


Vocational Rehabilitation (VR, VRD, DRV). The service of providing diagnosis, guidance, training, physical restoration, and placement to persons with disabilities for the purpose of preparing them for and involving them in employment that helps them to live with greater independence. The preferred term is now rehabilitation services.


Vocational Rehabilitation Department, or Division of Rehabilitation Services. A State/Federal program that assists people with disabilities to independence.


Voice Disorders. Types of speech impairments characterized by either an inappropriate pitch (too high, too low, never changing or interrupted by breaks); loudness (too loud or not loud enough); or quality (harsh, hoarse, breathy, or nasal) of the speech itself.


VR. Vocational Rehabilitation


VRA. Vocational Rehabilitation Association/Act

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WAIS-R. See "Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (Revised)".


Waivers. Medicaid programs that offer home and community-based services for persons who would otherwise be eligible for institutional care. These programs require special permission from the federal government because they are not an "entitlement" like other Medicaid services, because they expand the eligibility criteria, and because they offer different services than allowed under state plan Medicaid. The waivers, which can differ greatly, are known by their numbers (1115, 1119), or as home- and community-based Waiver.


Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (Revised) (WAIS-R). One in the series of verbal and performing Weschler tests which are widely used in school systems.


Wechsler Intelligence Scales/Tests. A series of verbal and performance tests widely used in school systems that can be used from preschool levels, through childhood, to adulthood. The three types used are: 1. WPPSI: The Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence. 2. WAIS-R: The Adult Intelligence Scale (Revised). 3. WISC III: The Intelligence Scale for Children (Third Edition).


Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). A short test for evaluating basic skills of spelling, arithmetic and reading. The WRAT is widely used by schools for testing educational achievement.


WISC-III. See "Wechsler Intelligence Scales/Tests”.


Withdrawing Behavior. Behavior characterized by reduced interest in or contact with other people, and can include absence of speech, regression to babyhood, exhibition of many fears, depression, and refusing contacts with other people.


WRAT. See "Wide Range Achievement Test".

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YCPA. York County Parent Awareness




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Glossary Resources

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics
  2. Maine's Plan Development Work Group for Community-Based Living
  3. North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities
    People First – Guide to Understanding Developmental Disabilities
    (800) 357-6916
  4. The Maine Planning and Advisory Council on Developmental Disabilities
    Jargon and Acronyms
    (800) 244-3990
  5. Woodford County Special Education
  6. Real Choices
  7. Oregon Department of Health and Human Services
  8. Oregon Department of Health and Human Services

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