Disability, Medical, and Special Education Acronym List

For the parent learning to live in the disability world with less stress

Managing care for your child can come with learning a new language at times. There are many new terms to learn about symptoms, medications, school, finances, and even biology and genetics. It can make even the most well-versed parents feel lost, especially when hearing new acronyms! Let’s ease some of that stress by jotting them all down:

: Augmented and Alternative Communication–Using tools or devices to help with communication, like picture boards or speech apps.

ABA: Applied Behavior Analysis–A therapeutic approach focused on understanding and changing behavior using rewards and consequences.

ABLE: Achieving a Better Life Experience–Tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families.

ACA: Affordable Care Act–A law that expanded Medicaid eligibility and established health insurance marketplaces.

AEDY: Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth–Educational options for students who struggle in traditional schools. APS: Approved Private School–A school that meets specific standards set by the government.

AT: Assistive Technology–Any tools or devices that help a child perform tasks, like AAC devices, mobility equipment (wheelchairs), or prosthetic limbs.

AU/ASD: Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder–A developmental disorder characterized by challenges with social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. 

BASC: Behavior Assessment System for Children–A tool for understanding behavior.

BCBA: Board Certified Behavior Analyst–A professional who is trained to assess and treat behavior issues.

BIP/PSP: Behavior Improvement Plan/Positive Support Plan–A plan to help improve behavior by focusing on positive strategies.

CBI: Community-Based Instruction–Learning activities that happen outside of the classroom, in the community.

CD-PAP: Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program–A Medicaid program that allows individuals to hire and manage their own caregivers, including family members or friends, for personal assistance services.

CHIP: Children’s Health Insurance Program–Provides health coverage to children in families with incomes too high for Medicaid but can’t afford private insurance.

CMS: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services–The federal agency that administers Medicaid and Medicare.

CMSO: Coordination of Benefits Maintenance Organization–An organization that helps coordinate healthcare benefits between different insurance plans for Medicaid beneficiaries.

CVI: Cortical Visual Impairment–A condition with difficulty interpreting visual information due to issues with the brain’s visual processing centers.

DIBELS: Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills–A test to see how well young children are learning to read.

DMI: Dynamic Movement Intervention–A type of physical therapy that considers the brain’s development alongside physical movement to advance progress.

DTT: Discrete Trial Training–A teaching method that breaks down complex skills into smaller, manageable parts, often used in applied behavior analysis (ABA) for individuals with autism. 

EBD: Emotional Behavior Disorder–A condition where emotional and/or behavioral responses of an individual consistently interfere with their ability to function in daily life. 

ED: Emotionally Disturbed–Having emotional or behavioral challenges.

EEG: Electroencephalogram–A diagnostic test for epilepsy that can record electrical activity occurring during a seizure through electrodes that are attached to the scalp.

EI: Early Intervention–Services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities.

ELL/ESL: English Language Learner/English as a Second Language–Someone who is learning English as an additional language to their native language.

EPSDT: Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment–Medicaid’s comprehensive child health program ensuring early intervention and preventative care for children.

ER: Evaluation Report–A report about a child’s needs and abilities.

ESL/ELL: English as a Second Language/English Language Learner–Someone who is learning English as an additional language to their native language.

ESY: Extended School Year–School services that continue over the summer. FAPE: Free and Appropriate Education–All children have the right to a quality education for free.

FBA: Functional Behavior Assessment–A way to understand why someone behaves in a certain

FERPA: Federal Education Records Privacy Act–A law protecting the privacy of student education records. way.

FPL: Federal Poverty Level–An income threshold determining eligibility for Medicaid and other assistance programs. HH: Hard of Hearing–Having difficulty hearing but not completely deaf.

HHS: Department of Health and Human Services–The federal agency that oversees Medicaid.

HIE: Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy–Occurs when the brain is injured due to a lack of oxygen, usually during pregnancy or during a difficult birth.

HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act–A law protecting the privacy and security of healthcare information.

HIPP: Health Insurance Premium Payment Program–A Medicaid program that helps eligible individuals pay for employer-sponsored health insurance.

HMO: Health Maintenance Organization–A type of managed care health insurance plan.

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act–A federal law that ensures students with disabilities receive special education services.

IEE: Independent Education Evaluation–An evaluation done by someone not working for the school.

IEP: Individualized Education Program–A personalized plan for students with disabilities outlining educational goals and services.

IFSP: Individual Family Service Plan–A plan for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and their families.

IRR: Interrelated Resource–Educational support provided to students with disabilities that are integrated into general education classrooms. 

ITP: Individual Transition Plan–A plan developed for students with disabilities to help them transition from school to adult life, including post-secondary education, employment, and independent living.

LD: Learning Disability–A condition that affects a person’s ability to acquire and use academic skills, typically involving difficulties in reading, writing, or math. 

LEA: Local Education Agency–The organization responsible for providing education in a certain area.

LEP: Limited English Proficiency–Refers to individuals with limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English, often requiring additional language support in educational settings. 

LRE: Least Restrictive Environment–A setting where a student with disabilities can learn alongside their peers as much as possible.

LTSS: Long-Term Services and Supports–Services that help people with disabilities or chronic illnesses with daily activities.

MA: Medical Assistance, Medicaid–Healthcare coverage for those with low income or disabilities.

MCO: Managed Care Organization–A company that contracts with Medicaid to provide healthcare services to beneficiaries.

MDSS: Multi-Disciplinary Support Service–A collaborative approach when professionals across disciplines, such as education, SLP, OT, and others, work together to provide comprehensive support and interventions.

MID: Mildly Intellectually Disabled–Refers to individuals with intellectual disabilities who have mild impairments in cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviors. 

MNRI: Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration–A type of physical therapy using a holistic approach to stimulate neurological pathways to enhance motor and cognitive functions.

MOID: Moderately Intellectually Disabled–Refers to individuals with intellectual disabilities who have moderate impairments in cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviors. 

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging–A diagnostic test using powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body.

O&I/O&M: Orientation and Instruction–Instruction and training provided to individuals with visual impairments to help them navigate their environment safely and independently. 

O&M/O&I: Orientation and Mobility–Instruction and training provided to individuals with visual impairments to help them navigate their environment safely and independently. 

OCR: Office of Civil Rights–The government office that enforces civil rights laws in education.

OHI: Other Health Impaired–A disability category including conditions like ADHD.

OT: Occupational Therapy/Occupational Therapist–Focused on developing fine motor skills for daily living and work tasks, such as eating, using devices, etc.

PA: Preparatory Activity–An activity or exercise designed to prepare someone for a particular task or skill. 

PAES: Practical Assessment and Exploration System–A program designed to assess and develop vocational skills and independent living skills.

PDA: Pathological Demand Avoidance is a behavior seen in some children with autism where they have an extreme avoidance of everyday expectations. They may refuse or use distraction techniques to avoid typical tasks and can experience intense anxiety if feeling pressured.

PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder–A group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. 

PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System–A communication system that uses pictures or symbols to help individuals with communication difficulties express their wants and needs. 

PID: Profoundly Intellectually Disabled–Refers to individuals who have severe impairments in cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviors. 

PLOP: Present Levels of Performance–Information about what a student can do right now.

PPO: Preferred Provider Organization–A type of health insurance plan that allows more flexibility in choosing healthcare providers.

PSP/BIP: Positive Support Plan/Behavior Improvement Plan–A plan to help improve their behavior by focusing on positive strategies.

PT: Physical Therapy/Physical Therapist–Focused on improving mobility and gross motor skills.

PTE: Permission to Evaluate–Permission from parents for the school to assess a child’s needs.

PWN: Prior Written Notice–Information given to parents before the school makes changes to a child’s education plan.

RR: Re-evaluation Report–A report that is done every few years to see if a child’s needs have changed.

RTI/MDSS: Response to Intervention–A system to provide early help to students who struggle in school.

SD: School District–The area that a school serves.

SDD: Significant Developmental Delay–Refers to delays in one or more areas of a child’s development, such as motor skills, speech and language, or cognitive abilities. 

SDI: Specially Designed Instruction–Teaching tailored to meet a student’s individual needs.

SETS: Supported Employment Transition Services–Services designed to help transition from school to work, providing support for employment and career development. 

SI: Speech Impairment–A condition that affects the ability to produce or understand speech sounds, resulting in difficulty communicating. 

SID: Severely Intellectually Disabled–Refers to individuals who have profound impairments in cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviors. 

SLD: Specific Learning Disability–Challenges in certain areas of learning, like reading or math.

SLP: Speech-Language Pathologist–A professional who helps with speech and language development.

SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–A federal program that provides food assistance to low-income individuals and families.

SNT: Special needs trust–An account that contains assets such as money, real estate, mutual funds, and/or stocks to support your child.

SSDI: Social Security Disability Insurance–A federal program that provides income assistance to people with disabilities who have worked and paid into Social Security.

SSI: Supplemental Security Income–A federal program that provides cash assistance to low-income individuals with disabilities or seniors.

SUDEP: Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy–Death of a person with epilepsy where the cause can’t be determined. 

TVI: Teacher of the Visually Impaired–A teacher specializing in educating students with visual impairments.

WIC: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children–Provides nutrition education, healthy food, and support to pregnant women, new mothers, and young children.

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