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Directory of Autism Experts, Products & Services:

Glossary

Term Acronym Definition

Activity Schedule

A visual depiction of tasks or activities that need to be accomplished. They are typically comprised of text, images, auditory prompts or to or three of these combined. They can be paper-based or electronic. There are many ready-made apps that enable a parent or instructor to make an activity schedule quickly and with ease. Activity schedules are ideal for individuals on the Autism Spectrum as they help promote independence.

 
 

Alternative Communication

Another term for Augmentative Communication.

American Sign Language

ASL

A form of sign langugae developed in the U.S. for the use of the deaf and individuals with communication impariments,consisting of over 4,000 signs.

Anecdotal Evidence

A term to describe evidence that is not based on scientific research. Often anecdotal evidence takes the form of testimonials or personal accounts and because it is not scientifically validated, it has a large chance of being untrue.

Applied Behavior Analysis

ABA

The science of applying experimentally derived principles of behaviorism to modify behavior. ABA takes what we know about behavior and uses it to bring about changes of the behavior. Sometimes referred to as Intensive Behavioral Intervention.

Applied Verbal Behavior

AVB

Also simply known as “Verbal Behavior”, a therapy based on the works of B.F. Skinner, that breaks language down into various “operants” (e.g. mand, tact, etc.) and then uses behavioral principles and techniques (ABA) to teach each these operants.

Apraxia

A neurological condition characterized by loss or absence of the ability to perform activities that a person is physically able and willing to do.

Asperger Syndrome

A form of autism spectrum disorder characterized by a normal IQ but impairments in social interactions, social communication and imagination.

Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills

ABLLS

An assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skills-tracking system used to help guide the instruction of language and critical learner skills for children with autism or other developmental disabilities. It provides a comprehensive review of 544 skills from 25 skill areas including language, social interaction, self-help, academic and motor skills that most typically developing children acquire prior to entering kindergarten.

 

Assessment of Functional Living Skills

AFLS

An assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skills-tracking system used to help guide the instruction of functional living skills for people of all ages with autism or other developmental disabilities. It provides a comprehensive review of approximately 850 useful daily living skills in 31 functional skill to promote self-help and maximize independence. This tool is appropriate for use in home, school and community settings. Click HERE to learn more.

 

Atypical Autism

Another term for PDD-NOS.

Auditory Integration Training

A type of music/auditory therapy based upon the work of French otolaryngologists Dr. Alfred Tomatis and Dr. Guy Bernard.

Augmentative Communication

Another term for alternative communication, which refers to the different ways (other than speech) that people use to communicate with each other.

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

ADOS

An instrument for diagnosing and assessing Autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

ASD

A spectrum of psychological conditions characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, as well as restricted interests and repetitive behavior. The five forms of ASD are: Classical autism; Asperger syndrome; Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; sometimes called atypical autism; Rett syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder


This video presentation by Prof. Fred Volkmar of the Child Study Center, Yale University, provides a general overview of autism and related disorders.

Autistic Savant

A person with autism who is exceptionally gifted in a specialized field. A common misconception is that the autistic savant phenomenon is extremely common among autistic people, when in reality, its relevance ranges between 1% and 10% of the autistic population.

Backward Chaining

In the context of Applied Behavior Analysis, Backward Chaining is a teaching methodology that refers to breaking down the various steps in a task (thereby creating a "Task Analysis"), and then teaching those steps in the reverse order.

 
 

Behavior Analyst Certification Board

BACB

A nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1998 to meet professional credentialing needs identified by behavior analysts, governments, and consumers of behavior analysis services. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s BCBA and BCaBA credentialing programs are accredited by the National Council for Certifying Agencies in Washington, DC.

Biomedical Interventions

Therapies which use substances found in nature, such as herbs, foods, and vitamins.

Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst

BCaBA

A behavior analyst who is certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, who must work under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

BCBA

An independent practitioner who also may work as an employee or independent contractor for an organization who is certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Casein

The name for a family of related phosphoprotein proteins that are commonly found in mammalian milk, making up 80% of the proteins in cow milk and between 60% and 65% of the proteins in human milk.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC

An American organization dedicated to protecting health and promoting quality of life through the prevention and control of disease, injury, and disability.

Checklist for Autism in Toddlers

CHAT

A quick five-minute test given to children ages 18 months to 24 years that can show a caregiver or a medical provider if a child has several markers that may indicate the presence of autism spectrum disorder.

Childhood Autism Rating Scale

CARS

A diagnostic assessment method that rates children on a scale from one to four for various criteria, ranging from normal to severe, and yields a composite score ranging from non-autistic to mildly autistic, moderately autistic, or severely autistic. The scale is used to observe and subjectively rate fifteen items including relationship to people, imitation, emotional response, body use, object use, adaptation to change, etc.

Comorbidity

When a disease or condition coexists with a primary disease but also stands on its own as a specific disease.

DAN Protocol

An approach to autism treatment which starts with the idea that autism is a biomedical disorder. Specifically, DAN! doctors feel that autism is a disorder caused by a combination of lowered immune response, external toxins from vaccines and other sources, and problems caused by certain foods.

Defeat Autism Now

DAN

A project of the Autism Research Institute, founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland.

Desensitization

Systematic desensitization is a type of behavioral therapy that can be used to help children or adults with Autism and Asperger's syndrome effectively overcome phobias and other anxiety disorders. It is based on the behavioral techniques involved in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Developmental Delay

Child development refers to the process in which children go through changes in skill development during predictable time periods, called developmental milestones. Developmental delay occurs when children have not reached these milestones by the expected time period. For example, if the normal range for learning to walk is between 9 and 15 months, and a 20-month-old child has still not begun walking, this would be considered a developmental delay.

Developmental Disorder

One of several disorders that interrupt normal development in childhood. They may affect a single area of development (specific developmental disorders) or several (pervasive developmental disorders).

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

DSM

A manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association that covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults. It also lists known causes of these disorders, statistics in terms of gender, age at onset, and prognosis as well as some research concerning the optimal treatment approaches. Mental Health Professionals use this manual when working with patients in order to better understand their illness and potential treatment and to help 3rd party payers (e.g., insurance) understand the needs of the patient. The book is typically considered the ‘bible’ for any professional who makes psychiatric diagnoses in the United States and many other countries.

Discrete Trial Training

DTT

(aka Discrete Trial Teaching) A specific method of teaching used to maximize learning. It is a teaching technique or process used to develop many skills, including cognitive, communication, play, social and self help skills. The teaching strategy involves: breaking skills into the smallest steps; teaching each step of the skill intensively until mastered; providing lots of repetition; prompting the correct response and fading the prompts as soon as possible; and, using positive reinforcement procedures.

Dyspraxia

An impairment of the ability to execute purposeful, voluntary movement.

Echolalia

The repetition of words, phrases or sentences just spoken by others. It is involuntary, meaning there is no conscious decision to repeat what has just been heard, but is rather a parroting of sounds.

Expressive Language

Another term for spoken language.

Facilitated Communication

According to believers, facilitated communication is a technique which allows people with little or no communication abilities (like people with severe autism) to communicate with others at a level far exceeding their assumed skills.

File Motor Skills

Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. Fine motor skills generally refer to the small movements of the hands, wrists, fingers, feet, toes, lips, and tongue.

Floortime

A trademarked proprietary treatment method as well as a philosophy for interaction that involves meeting a child at their current developmental level and building upon their particular set of interests and strengths.

Fragile X Syndrome

An inherited disorder caused by a defective gene on the X-chromosome and causing mental retardation, enlarged testes, and facial abnormalities in males and mild or no effects in heterozygous females. Approximately 15-25% of individuals with fragile X syndrome also are diagnosed with mild to moderate autism and autism spectrum disorders.

Functional Play

A form of play that includes any act involving the conventional use of an object to produce a purposeful outcome.

Generalization

The expansion of a learned skill so that it can be functionally used across varying settings, situations and environments with different people and stimuli or materials.

Gluten

A protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture. Many believe there is a correlation between children with autism and their food sensitivity to gluten and casein.

Gross Motor Skills

Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. Gross motor skills include the larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body (crawling, running, and jumping).

Hyperlexia

A syndrome characterized by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced reading ability. Hyperlexic children read at levels far beyond those of their age mates and often begin reading at very young ages, sometimes at age two. Between 5-10% of children with autism have been estimated to be hyperlexic.

Incidental Teaching

Incidental teaching involves providing instruction within ongoing typical activities based on student interest and motivation (McGee, Daly, & Jacobs, 1994). It uses strategies based on ABA (e.g., reinforcement, errorless learning) to present learning objectives within typical preschool activities rather than in a clinical setting. Although this strategy was originally designed primarily for preschool‐aged children, research has demonstrated the effectiveness of using it with individuals of all ages and disabilities.

Individual Education Plan

IEP

A written plan used in Canada that describes the special education program and/or services required by a particular student. It identifies learning expectations that are modified from or alternative to the expectations given in the curriculum policy document for the appropriate grade and subject or course, and/or any accommodations and special education services needed to assist the student in achieving his or her learning expectations. In the US, a similar document is called an Individualized Education Program.

Individual Education Plan

IEP

A written plan used in Canada that describes the special education program and/or services required by a particular student. It identifies learning expectations that are modified from or alternative to the expectations given in the curriculum policy document for the appropriate grade and subject or course, and/or any accommodations and special education services needed to assist the student in achieving his or her learning expectations. In the US, a similar document is called an Individualized Education Program.

Individualized Education Program

Is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the United States. It should describe how the student learns, how the student best demonstrates that learning and what teachers and service providers will do to help the student learn more effectively. Key considerations in developing an IEP include assessing students in all areas related to the known disabilities, simultaneously considering ability to access the general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that correspond to the needs of the student, and ultimately choosing a placement in the least restrictive environment possible for the student. In Canada and the United Kingdom, a similar document is called an Individual Education Plan.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IDEA

A United States federal law that governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to children with disabilities. It addresses the educational needs of children with disabilities from birth to age 21.

Intensive Behavioral Intervention

IBI

Another term for Applied Behavior Analysis.

Joint Attention

The process of sharing one’s experience of observing an object or event, by following gaze or pointing gestures. Individuals with autism often have deficits in joint attention skills (e.g. pointing to objects, showing, following another person’s gaze, responding to invitations to social interaction)

Lovaas Method/Lovaas Therapy

A form of treatment guided by ABA and developed by Dr. Ivar Lovaas. It’s an early intervention therapy designed for children diagnosed with autism or related disorders.

Mainstreaming

A term that typically refers to the placement of a child with special developmental, physical, emotional or educational deficiencies or challenges into a regular classroom setting for part or all of the school day.

Modeling

A method of teaching in which an individual learns a behavior or a skill by watching someone else demonstrating that behavior or skill.

Neurotypical

A term that was coined in the autistic community as a label for people who are not on the autism spectrum: specifically, neurotypical people.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD

An anxiety disorder marked by the recurrence of intrusive or disturbing thoughts, impulses, images or ideas (obsessions) accompanied by repeated attempts to suppress these thoughts through the performance of certain irrational and ritualistic behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). Many people who have Autism also have OCD.

Occupational Therapist

OT

A health care professional, usually regulated by a board or college, who provides occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapy

OT

The art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life.

Off-label

Description of the use of a drug to treat a condition for which it has not been officially approved.

Operant Conditioning

A form of behaviorism based on the premise that reinforced behaviors tend to continue, while those that are punished or are not reinforced tend to gradually end. Was pioneered by B.F. Skinner and built on the classical conditioning work of Ivan Pavlov.

Peer Reviewed

The process a study or research paper undergoes subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.

Perseveration

Continuation of something (e.g. repetition of a word) usually to an exceptional degree or beyond a desired point.

Pervasive Development Disorder

PDD

A group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.

Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified

PDD-NOS

A neurobiological disorder characterized by impairment in ability to interact with others and by abnormalities in either communication or behavior patterns and interests. It is also called “atypical autism” because individuals with the disorder exhibit some but not all of the same symptoms associated with autism.

Physical Therapist

PT

Also known as a Physiotherapist, s health care professional, usually regulated by a board or college, who provides physical therapy or physiotherapy.

Physical Therapy

PT

A therapy that helps patients, including accident victims and individuals with disabling conditions by providing helping to restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities. PT’s goal is to restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and health.

Physiotherapy

Another term for Physical Therapy.

Picture Exchange Communication System

PECS

A form of augmentative communication that uses pictures instead of words to help children communicate. PECS is a trademarked proprietary system that was designed especially for children with autism who have delays in speech development.

Pulse on Autism - Archives

A complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills.

Receptive Language

The comprehension of language - listening and understanding what is communicated.

Relationship Development Intervention

RDI

A trademarked propriety therapy program for people with autism that is intended to help lay what its creators identify as missing pathways to the brain.

Respite Care

A family support service that provides temporary relief from the physical and emotional demands involved in caring for a family member who has a disability.

Self-Injurious Behavior

SIB

Any behavior, initiated by the individual, which directly results in physical harm to that individual. Physical harm includes bruising, lacerations, bleeding, bone fractures and breakages, and other tissue damage. Many individuals who have autism engage in self-injurious behavior that can include head banging, hand or arm biting, hair pulling, slapping, skin picking and head shaking.

Self-Stimulatory Behavior

Also known as a “stim”, a self-stimulatory behavior refers to repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects. This behavior is common in many individuals with developmental disabilities; however, it appears to be more common in autism. Researchers have suggested that a person may engage in “stimming” to achieve some sort of internal pleasure, or as a self-calming measure.

Shaping

A teaching technique often used in ABA that involves gradually modifying the existing behavior into the desired behavior.

Snoezelen

Also knowns as a controlled multisensory stimulation, it is used for people with mental disabilities, and involves exposing them to a soothing and stimulating environment, the “snoezelen room”. Snoezelen is a trademarked proprietary therapeutic approach.

Social Story

A tool for teaching social skills to children with autism and related disabilities. Social stories provide learners with information about situations by describing detail by detail, in story form, events and demonstrating how an individual might be expected to react.

Social-Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support

SCERTS Model

A trademarked and proprietary treatment program for autism disorders based on the premise that it provides specific guidelines for helping a child become a competent and confident social communicator, while preventing problem behaviors that interfere with learning and the development of relationships.

Speech and Language Pathologist

SLP

A health care professional, usually regulated by a board or college, who provides speech therapy.

Speech and Language Therapy

The discipline of speech-language pathology includes professionals that are trained in the techniques, strategies, and interventions designed to improve or correct communication disorders. Communication disorders include disorders of speech, language, and swallowing.

Stim

A slang term for self-stimulatory behavior.

Synaesthesia

Based on ancient Greek word that means "together", synaesthesia is a neurological condition in which one sensory perception overlaps another. For example, someone who experience this phenomenon may report to perceive letters or numbers as colors.

Task Analysis

In the context of Applied Behavior Analysis, a Task Analysis is a list of steps created and utilized by an instructor to teach a task. A Task Analysis will vary from learner to learner, with those who are more challenged requiring a more lengthy and detailed list.

 
 

Theory of Mind

The ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one’s own. individuals with autism are thought to have impairments in theory of mind.

Tic

A habitual spasmodic motion of particular muscles, especially of the face.

Treatment and Education of Autistic Children with Communication Handicaps

TEACHH

A trademarked proprietary treatment program for autism disorders that focuses on several key concepts, including structured teaching, parent collaboration, assessment for individual treatment and skill enhancement.

Verbal Behavior

VB

A 1957 book by psychologist B. F. Skinner, in which he analyzes human behavior, encompassing what is traditionally called language, linguistics, or speech. This book serves as a foundation for Applied Verbal Behavior, a subset of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Video Modeling

A method of teaching in which an individual learns a behavior or a skill by watching a video recording of someone – the model – demonstrating that behavior or skill.

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales

An instrument for supporting the diagnosis of intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. It is used commonly used by psychologists and other health professionals.