Special Education

Acronyms and Definitions


ADA Americans with Disabilities Act

ADD Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

APE Adapted Physical Education

APR Annual Performance Report

ASHA American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASL American Sign Language

AT Assistive Technology

AU Autism

AYP Adequate Yearly Progress

BD Behavior Disorders

BIP Behavioral Intervention Plan

CEC Council on Exceptional Children

CD Cognitive Delay

CHADD Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

CIFMS Continuous Improvement and Focused Monitoring System

COTA Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant

CSE  Committee on Special Education

CSPD Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

CST  Child Study Team

CP Cerebral Palsy

DB Deaf-Blindness

DD Developmental Disability

DOH Department of Health

DPH Due Process Hearing

DPHO Due Process Hearing Officer

DSM-IV Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV

ED Emotional Disturbance

EI Early Intervention

ESY Extended School Year

FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education

FBA Functional Behavior Assessment

FERPA Family Education Rights and Privacy Act

FM Focused Monitoring

GT Gifted and Talented

HIPAA Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act

ICC Interagency Coordinating Council

IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IEE Individual Education Evaluation

IEP Individual Education Program

IFSP Individual Family Service Plan

IHCP Individualized Health Care Plan

IH Impartial Hearing

IHO Impartial Hearing Officer

IQ Intelligence Quotient

LA Lead Agency

LD Learning Disability

LEA Local Education Agency

LEP Limited English Proficiency

LRE Least Restrictive Environment

MPRRC Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center

NASDSE National Association of State Directors of Special Education

NCLB No Child Left Behind

NECTAC National Early Childhood and Technical Assistance Center

OCR Office for Civil Rights

ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder

OHI Other Health Impaired

OI Orthopedic Impairment

O&M Orientation and Mobility

OSEP Office of Special Education Programs

OSERS Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services

OT Occupational Therapy

P&A Protection and Advocacy

Part B Special Education桽chool-Aged Children

Part C Special Education桞irth朤wo Years Old

PDD Pervasive Development Disorders

PLP Present Levels of Educational Performance

PT Physical Therapist

PTIC Parent Training and Information Center

RRC Regional Resource Center

RTI  Response To Intervention

SA Self-Assessment

SAT Student Assistance Team

SEA State Education Agency

SEAP State Special Education Advisory Panel

Section 619 Special Education𦠣 Years Old

SI Sensory Integration

SIG State Improvement Grant

SIP State Improvement Plan

SL Speech Language

SLP Speech Language Pathologist

STO Short Term Objective

TAT Teacher Assistance Team

TBI Traumatic Brain Injury

TDD/TTY Telecommunications Device for the Deaf

USDE United States Department of Education

VI Visual Impairment

VR Vocational Rehabilitation




SPECIAL EDUCATION: Specially designed instruction that is provided at no cost to the parents of the child with a disability that affects the child抯 ability to learn. The instruction is designed to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability.

CHILD WITH A DISABILITY: A child between the ages of 3-21 with a physical, emotional, learning or cognitive disability, which has a harmful effect on the child抯 educational performance.

FREE AND APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION: Every child with a disability has a right to a public education at no cost to the parent. The child抯 educational program must be individually designed to meet the child抯 unique needs.

LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT: Every child with a disability must be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent possible.

PARENT: 揚arent means the natural or adoptive parent, the legal guardian, the surrogate parent appointed by the local Board of Education, or a person acting in place of a parent, such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child is living or a person legally responsible for the welfare of the child. A foster parent may act as a 損arent only if a court has terminated the parental rights of the child抯 natural parent.

CHILD STUDY TEAM (CST): The CST is made up of a school psychologist, learning disabilities teacher/consultant, and school social worker, who are all employees of the school district. The CST is responsible for evaluating a child to determine whether s/he is eligible for special education and related services.

INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP): A written plan developed at a meeting with the IEP TEAM that serves as the 搑oadmap for the child抯 education. The IEP must state the child抯 present levels of performance, measurable annual goals and short-term objectives aimed at improving the child抯 educational performance, and instructional activities and related services needed for the child to achieve the stated goals and objectives. It also must state the reasons for the child抯 educational placement. The IEP must be individually designed to meet the child抯 unique needs.

IEP TEAM: The IEP Team includes the parent/guardian, the student (if appropriate), the special education teacher, the regular education teacher (if appropriate), a Child Study Team member, the case manager, a representative of the school district, and anyone else the parent/guardian or school district wishes to bring.

TRANSITION SERVICES: Coordinated activities and services for a child with a disability that help the child to move from school to post-school activities after graduation. Transition services include vocational training, life skills training, independent living services, and supported employment services.


 A child is found eligible for special education and related services if s/he has one or more of the following disabilities (listed below) and the disability has a harmful effect on the child抯 educational performance. When a child is found to have one of the following disabilities, s/he is 揷lassified. It is for this reason that the child抯 disability is referred to as the child抯 揷lassification.

 Autism: a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a student抯 educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism include engagement in repetitive activities, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory stimuli.

Deafness: a hearing impairment so severe that a student is impaired in processing linguistic information with or without amplification. The disability must adversely affect educational performance.

Deaf-Blindness: a concomitant hearing and visual impairment so severe that the student cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or students with blindness.

Emotional Disturbance: a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a student抯 educational performance.

a. an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.

b. an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

c. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

d. A generally pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression

e. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Learning Disability : The term 憇pecific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.

Such term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

Such term does not include a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Mental Retardation: significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a student抯 performance.

Multiple Disabilities: means concomitant impairments the combination of which cause educational needs that cannot be accommodated in a special education class solely for one of the impairments, e.g. mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment.

Orthopedic Impairment: a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a student抯 educational performance, e.g. clubfoot, polio, cerebral palsy.

Other Health Impaired: means having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems, e.g. heart condition, tuberculosis, attention deficit disorder.

Speech or Language Impairment: means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment or voice impairment that adversely affects a student抯 educational performance.

Traumatic Brain Injury: mean an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by certain medical conditions such as stroke or a brain tumor with resulting impairments that adversely affect a student抯 educational performance.

Visual Impairment Including Blindness: means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student抯 educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.


When a child is classified as eligible for special education and related services, the IEP team determines what is the appropriate program or placement for that child. The child must be educated in the 搇east restrictive environment, which means that a child who is disabled must be educated as much as possible with non-disabled children. The following is a list of some of the more common types of programs/placements that are available for children classified as eligible for special education and related services.

1. REGULAR CLASS WITH SUPPLEMENTARY AIDS: This means that a child is placed in a regular education classroom with non-disabled students, but the child receives some additional help.

揝upplementary aids include:

a) Changes to the material that is taught (the curriculum) or the way the teacher teaches (the use of special teaching methods) to better suit the child with the disability and help him/her learn;

b) Additional instruction (i.e. after school tutoring);

c) Assistive technology devices and services, which are any items or pieces of equipment that increase, maintain or improve the disabled child抯 ability to function (i.e. eyeglasses, hearing aids, talking computers);

d) Instructional or teacher aides; and

e) Related services, which are supportive services that help a student with a disability to benefit from special education (i.e. transportation, speech/language therapy, counseling, physical therapy, occupational  therapy ,etc.).

2. RESOURCE PROGRAMS: Resource programs provide individual or small group instruction to students with disabilities. A resource program teacher must be certified as a teacher of the handicapped. Resource programs may be provided either in a regular class or in a pull-out program. If the resource program is in-class, the child receives instruction in his/her regular classroom. If the resource program is 損ull-out, the child leaves the regular classroom for the time during which s/he receives instruction.

A resource program may provide 搒upport instruction or 搑eplacement instruction. In a support resource program, the child must meet educational requirements for the child抯 grade or the subject being taught; however, the child receives additional assistance in certain subjects (i.e. reading, writing, spelling, math). In a replacement resource program, the child抯 regular education curriculum and teaching methods may be changed based on the student抯 IEP. As a result, the child receives instruction in material that, to some degree, 搑eplaces the material that the child would be learning in a particular subject. For example, if a class is learning Math, a child with a Math-related disability might learn how to add single digits (1+5) while the rest of the class learns how to add double digit (10+12).

3. SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM IN THE STUDENT扴 LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT: Sometimes, a child classified as eligible for special education and related services is placed in a 搒pecial class program that serves students who have similar needs (as shown in their IEPs). This classroom is sometimes known as a 搒elf-contained攃lassroom. The 搒pecial class program will teach the child the same material taught to students without disabilities, unless the child抯 IEP provides otherwise. The way the teacher instructs the child may change according to the child抯 IEP. The type and severity of the child抯 educational needs will determine in which 搒pecial class program the child is placed. Examples of 搒pecial class programs include classrooms for children with learning disabilities, classrooms for children with emotional disorders, classrooms for children with cognitive disabilities (ranging from mild to severe) and vocational education programs (which teach the child a vocational/employable skill for a job/trade).

4. SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM IN ANOTHER LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT: Sometimes, a school district in which a family lives does not have a special education placement/program anywhere in the district that meets the unique needs of a child classified as eligible for special education and related services. In cases such as these, the district may be required to place the child in another school district that has an appropriate program for the child. If this happens, the district in which the family lives must pay for the child抯 transportation and schooling in the other district.

5. A PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR THE DISABLED OR AN OUT-OF-STATE SCHOOL FOR THE DISABLED IN THE UNITED STATES APPROVED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WHERE THE SCHOOL IS LOCATED: Sometimes, there is no special education placement/program anywhere in the district in which the family lives, or anywhere in the neighboring districts, that meets the unique needs of a child classified as eligible for special education and related services. In cases such as these, the district may be required to place the child in a private school for the disabled, either in-state or out-of-state. The private school must have been approved as a proper placement for disabled children by the Department of Education in the state in which the school is located. If this happens, the district in which the family lives will be required to pay for the child抯 schooling.

6. HOME INSTRUCTION: When a child抯 IEP says that a child needs a certain kind of program/placement and no appropriate placement can be found, the child may be entitled to have someone teach him/her one-on-one either at home or in another appropriate setting. The county office of the Department of Education must give written approval before home instruction may be given. In certain cases, both disabled and non-disabled children may receive home instruction due to temporary illness or injury.

7. EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR PROGRAMMING (ESY): Some children classified as eligible for special education and related services are entitled to receive 揺xtended school year programming, also known as ESY. ESY may be appropriate for a child where summer school will help prevent the child from dropping to a lower level of functioning or forgetting what s/he has learned. The IEP team decides whether a child is eligible for ESY, and children with several different disabilities may be eligible.

RELATED SERVICES: The term 搑elated services includes a variety of supportive services that help a child with a disability to benefit from special education. Some of the more common 搑elated services that a child classified as eligible for special education and related services may receive are listed below.

1. AUDIOLOGY: Audiology services are for children with hearing loss. These services include:

a) Identification of children with hearing loss;

b) Determination of the cause and extent of the hearing loss;

c) Referral to medical or other professionals to improve the child抯 hearing;

d) Provision of activities aimed to improve the child抯 hearing, such as auditory training (treatment to improve a child抯 hearing or reduce a child抯 overly sensitive hearing, in order to help him/her learn better, speech reading (lip reading), or hearing evaluation;

e) Creation and administration of programs to prevent hearing loss;

f) Counseling and advice for children, parents, and teachers regarding hearing loss; and/or

f) Selection and fitting of an appropriate hearing aid, and evaluation of the hearing aid抯 effectiveness.

2. COUNSELING SERVICES: 揅ounseling services are services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel. There are many possible reasons a child with a disability may need counseling, such as: to provide the child the opportunity to express his/her feelings about the disability, to provide the child the opportunity to talk about problems in his/her life; to help the child work through traumatic events, to help the child to develop social skills, and/or to work with the child to develop ways to manage his/her behavior.

3. MEDICAL SERVICES: These are services provided by a doctor to identify and evaluate a child抯 medical-related disability that results in the child抯 need for special education and related services.

4. OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY: 揙ccupational therapy is a service provided by a qualified occupational therapist and includes:

a) Improving, developing, or restoring a child抯 functions that were impaired or lost through illness, injury or deprivation

b) Improving a child抯 ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost.

c) Preventing the onset of an impairment, further impairment or loss of function 揙ccupational therapy typically focuses on the development and improvement of fine motor skills and applying the skills to daily life, such as learning how to hold a pen or cut with scissors.

5. ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY SERVICES: These services are provided to blind and visually impaired children to help them learn how to orient themselves and move around safely at school, at home, and in the community. This includes teaching children to use sound, temperature, vibrations, long cane, remaining vision, and remaining vision aids to find their way and move about safely.

6. PARENT COUNSELING AND TRAINING: These services aim to help a parent understand the special needs of his/her child with a disability. This includes giving parents information about child development, and helping parents learn what to do to support their child抯 special education needs and programming at home.

7. PHYSICAL THERAPY: 揚hysical therapy is a service provided by a qualified physical therapist, and typically is used to improve a child抯 gross motor skills [and muscles] (i.e. helping a child walk or run). 揚hysical therapy is the physical treatment of disease, injury or disability by physical means like exercise and massage.

8. PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES: These services include:

a) Administering psychological and educational tests;

b) Interpreting test results;

c) Gathering and interpreting information about child behavior and conditions related to learning;

d) Helping school staff plan school programs to meet the special needs of children, based on the results of the children抯 tests, interviews, and behavioral evaluations;

e) Planning and managing a program of psychological services, including counseling for children and parents; and/or

f) Helping to develop positive ways to work with children to improve their behavior.

9. REHABILITATION COUNSELING SERVICES: These are services provided by qualified personnel in individual or group sessions that focus specifically on employment preparation and career development. These services also focus on helping child with a disability to become more independent and integrate in the workplace and community.

10. SCHOOL HEALTH SERVICES: 揝chool health services are services provided by a school nurse or other qualified person. These services may include the administration of medication to a child with a disability, where the medication has been prescribed by a doctor (i.e. for a child with asthma or ADHD), or monitoring a child with a disability for any health-related needs.

11. SOCIAL WORK SERVICES IN SCHOOLS: These services include:

a) Preparing a social or developmental history of a child with a disability;

b) Providing group and individual counseling with the child and family;

c) Working with parents and others on any problems in a child抯 living situation which have a harmful effect on the child抯 adjustment, behavior or performance in school;

d) Combining school and community resources to enable the child to learn as effectively as possible in his/her education program; and/or

e) Helping to develop positive ways to intervene in children抯 behavior.

12. SPEECH-LANGUAGE SERVICES: 揝peech-language services may include the following:

a) Identifying if a child has a speech or language impairment;

b) Identifying which particular speech or language impairment a child has;

c) Providing speech and language services to improve a child抯 existing speech problem or prevent further problems;

d) Referring the child for medical or other professional attention necessary for improve or remedy the child抯 speech or language impairment; and/or

e) Providing counseling and advice to parents, children, teachers regarding speech and language impairments.

13. TRANSPORTATION: 揟ransportation services include providing a child with a disability with transportation to and from school, transportation for travel between schools, assistance with travel in and around school buildings, and specialized equipment that a child with a disability needs (i.e. a specially adapted bus, ramp, or lift