A/ B/ C/ D/ E/ F/ G/ H/ I/ L/ M/ N/ O/ P/ R/ S/ T/ V/ W/


AAC– Assistive Augmentative Communication- Any system of communication that relays a message and that can be used to add to more typical forms of communication.

ABA– Applied Behavior Analysis. Therapy based on the science of learning and behavior

Activities of Daily Living– Skills used in everday living such as find and gross motor skills, eating, food preparation, dressing, toileting, money and personal self-care

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)-  a disorder of the executive function of the brain that allows a person to focus and organize. It is a developmental disability that occurs in approximately 3 to 5% of children

Aicardi Syndrome- a rare genetic disorder that occurs in 1 in 105,000 to 167,000 newborns in the United States and occurs exclusively in females. People with Aicardi Syndrome often have undeveloped tissue which connects the left and right halves of the brain.

American Disability Act– also known as ADA, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Angleman Syndrome– a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, characteristics that include developmental delays, intellectual disability, and speech impairments. Angelman syndrome generally go unnoticed until the age of 1 year. Children typically have a happy demeanor and have a fascination with water

Anxiety Disorder– the individual finds it difficult to control worry. It is associated with restlessness, muscle tension, sleep disturbance and difficulty concentrating.

Aphasia- Difficulties in processing information and communicating

Apraxia- Loss of the ability to coordinate, sequence and executive purposeful movements and gestures not caused by weakness.

Aspergers Syndrome– tend to have atypical social abilities and a narrow spectrum of intense of interest and activities but have typical language skills,

Assistive Technology– assistive adaptive and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities.

Ataxia– affects a child’s coordination, balance and speech while some children are born with ataxia as a result of genetics, others develop it in a progressive matter.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy– is characterized by uncontrolled twisting movements. A person may have difficulty in holding themselves in an upright position.

Auditory Processing Disorder– (APD) is a neurological disorder impacting the way the brain processes information and will often affect attention, speech reading and following direction. APD affects 5% of school-age children. Boys are twice as likely as girls to have auditory processing disorder.

Aura– a feeling that is felt before a seizure occurs for some it may feel like a pulling in the stomach

Autism Spectrum Disorder- (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts social, speech, behavioral and motor skills. It is a spectrum disorder meaning it varies from person to person. No two people have the same symptoms. It is estimated that 1% of the population is diagnosed with autism.


Benign Roladric Epilepsy– a type of seizure that affects primary children. It is referred to as “Benign” since most children grow out of it during puberty and “Rolandic” describes the part of the brain where seizures begin.

Bipolar Disorder- a disorder associated with mood swings from very happy to depressed.

Brailleis not a language, rather it is a code that uses symbols formed within units of space that consists of six raised dots 2 across and 3 down.

Brain Injury– is defined as a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Acquired brain injury is defined as injury to the brain which is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative and may have included brain damage resulting from events such as a specific type of damage to the brain.


Cerebral Palsy-a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is the most common motor disability in childhood. It originates in the area of the brain that controls movement.

CDKLS-  also known as Cornelia de lange Syndromea neurodevelopmental disorder that includes signs of early-onset epilepsy. In fact 90% of children diagnosed with CDKL5 disorder are more likely to develop epilepsy. CDKL5 is derived from a gene and one of the most common causes of genetic epilepsy. Children diagnosed with CDKL5 also face many other developmental challenges as well.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder– (CDD) also know is Heller’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that is characterized by aggression or previously acquired skills such as language and social skills.

Chromosome 22 Ring– is a rare genetic condition caused by an abnormal chromosome 22 that forms a ring which causes both arms of the chromosome to break.

Cleft Lip and Palate– when a baby’s lip and mouth does not form properly during pregnancy causing a split on the upper lip.

Comorbid-the presences of two or more diseases or conditions.

Cri Du Chata rare genetic disorder that results when a piece of the 5p chromosome is deleted. The name is French for “cry of the cat,” referring to the high-pitched cat-life cry. Other characteristics include intellectual disability, hyperactivity, and delay development. below are some more facts on this rare disease.

Cystic Fibrosis– (CF) is a chronic, progressive and frequently fatal disease of the body’s mucus glands. CF primary affects the respiratory and digestive systems in children and young adults. In the United States, approximately 30,000  people are diagnosed with CF.


Day Habilitation-services that assist of support the individual in developing or maintaining life skills and community integration.

Dementia- a group of conditions characterized by impairments of at least two brain functions such as memory loss and judgement.

Depression Disorder- Defined as markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost activities most of the day, nearly everyday. signs include, significant weight loss, fatigue, and feeling of worthlesness.

Developmental Disability– is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments before the age of 22. A developmental disability can occur before, during or after birth. Common well-known developmental disabilities include autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and Fragile X syndrome. Here are some facts and statistics on developmental disabilities.

DiGeorge Syndrome– Also known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome is a rare disorder that is caused by a deletion in chromosome 22 located specifically in the middle of the chromosome in the area referred to as q.11.2. This syndromes affects 1 out of 4000 people and signs and symptoms include, developmental delays, poor muscle tone, learning development, feeding issues and hearing loss.

Disability– defined as an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical or sensory. In some cases a person may have more than one type of disability.

Down Syndrome– a chromosomal disorder caused by an extra cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. This causes developmental delays both intellectually and physically.

Dravet Syndrome– a rare form, of epilepsy found in children. Symptoms include, developmental delays, sleeping conditions, and chronic infections.

Dual-Diagnosis- a person has both a mental illness and an intellectual disability

Dyscalculia– is defined as a learning disability specifically in math and numbers including the inability to understand the concept of numbers and applying math principles to solve problems.

Dyspraxia- is a neurological disorder that affects fine and gross motor skills and organization. A child may have difficulty in using scissors, riding a bike or learning and recalling information.

Dysgraphia– is describes as a learning disability that affects writing, spelling and fine motor skills. Dysgraphia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can occur as a stand alone disorder or part of a co-occurring disorder with other disabilities such as ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia. Typically it is diagnosed or discovered in the early years when children are beginning to learn how to write.

Dyslexia– a neurologically-based learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities


Early Intervention– term used to describe services and supports that are available to young children with developmental delays including speech, physical and occupation therapy.

Echolalia– is characterized as the repetition of words that may be immediate or delayed after the original words are spoken.

Edwards Syndrome– also known as Trisomy 18 is a rare disorder caused by an extra copy of the 18th chromosome. Edward syndrome occurs in 1 in 6000 births and will affect female more than males. It is also the second most common trisomy after Down Syndrome

Epilepsy– is a neurological disorder which causes seizures through electrical impulses occurring in the brain. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder. Epilepsy affects 50 million people worldwide. It is a brain disorder which occurs when neurons experience a brief interruption causing a seizure to occur.

Executive Functioning Disorder– Difficulty with planning, organizing and managing time and space.

Expressive-Receptive Language Disorder– is diagnosed when children have difficulty with both their expressive and receptive language skills. Signs and symptoms include, articulation errors, attention problems, delayed speech, difficulty naming objects, problems replaying a story.

Eye-Hand Coordination- A combination of visual skills and fine motor skills


Fetal Alcohol Syndrome– (FASD) according to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome describes the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These affects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities with lifelong implications. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is not a diagnosed rather, it is a term that is used to describe a wide-range of effects on a person whose mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, show in three areas: abnormal facial characteristics, slowed growth and the central nervous system.

Fine Motor Skills– Involve small muscle movements such as fingers.

Fragile X Syndrome– a genetic disorder and is the most common form of inherited intellectual and developmental disability. It is estimated to affect 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females. Characteristics include learning disorders, sensory issues, speech and language and attention disorders.


Gastrointestinal Disorder– a term used to describe any condition or disease that occurs with the gastrointestinal tract.

Generalized Seizure– formally known as a gran mal seizure affects both sides of the brain, and starts in all parts of the brain at the same time. About 25 percent of people with epilepsy have generalized seizures. It affects all ages, socioeconomic and racial groups.

Global Developmental Delay– Global developmental delays describes when children do not meet their developmental milestones. Generally from the age of 2 months to 5 years old. Although each child is different in their development, milestones are established in order to determine functional skills on age specific tasks.

Gross Motor Skills– Involve the large muscles usually the arm and legs


Hearing Impairment– hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections and exposure to excessive noise.

Hydrocephalus-i s a build up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the cavities in the brain inside the ventricles. The purpose of the Cerebrospinal fluid is to serve as a protective cushion surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. The fluid moves in constant circulation and is then absorbed into the blood stream. Hydrocephaly occurs when the fluid begins to build up in the cavities causing excess fluid to increase in the ventricles adding pressure on the brain which can cause damage to the brain tissues.

Hyperlexia– s described as a syndrome where children have the precocious ability to read words and sentences far beyond their chronological age. Some children read as early as 15 months old. Although these children can read words at an early age, they are unable to comprehend its meaning and also lag in speech and social skills. Children with hyperlexia also have an obsession with letters and numbers including writing numbers and drawing shapes in letters.

Hypertonic– low muscle tone. Affects all of the muscles in the body including the tongue, face and fingers.


ICF– A facility designed for people with an intellectual/developmental disability provided with 24 hour services including supervision and clinical care,

IDEA– The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a law that makes available a free appropriate education to eligible children with disabilities.

IEP– it is an acronym that stand for Individualized Education Program. It is a legal document under the United States law that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. It is created through a team of the child’s parent and district personnel.

Invisible Disability– refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunction, brain injuries as well as differences in mental health disorders as well as hearing and visual impairments. They are not always obvious to the onlooker but can sometimes or always limit daily activities range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.

IRA– Individual Residential Alternatives are homes and apartments of 10 or fewer residents that focus on promoting independence.

Independent Living Skills– the ability to independently take care of personal needs and daily life tasks such as dressing, travel, money management and preparing meals.

Intellectual Disability- DSM-V defines intellectual disability as a disorder with onset during the developmental period that includes both intellectual functioning including abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, problem solving.  Adaptive functioning including limitations in activities of daily living, communication, social participation, and independent living across multiple environments such as home, school, work and community. Deficits are on the onset during the developmental period.


Landau-Kleffner Syndrome- is a rare disorder that is characterized by the gradual and sudden loss of language in children between the ages of five and seven.

Learning Disability- Is a neurologically- based processing which interferes with learning basic skills such as reading, writing and or math. This disorder can also impact higher level skills such as organization, time, planning, abstract reasoning and attention span.

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome– s a type of epilepsy where a person may experience multiple types of seizures including tonic (stiffening of the body), atonic (brief loss of muscle tone), and atypical absence  (starring). This type of seizure often begins during infancy and early childhood.

Lowe Syndrome– also known as Oculocerebrorenal Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the eyes, brain and kidneys. It has a prevalence of 1 in 500,000 and mainly affects males.


Meares-Irlen Syndrome– is a  perceptual processing disorder and a form of visual stress which leads to difficulty in reading. 50 percent of people with dyslexia are affected. This also impacts people with migraines and epilepsy.

Medicaid Waiver Service– helps provide service to people who would otherwise be in an institution, hospital or nursing home.

Microcephaly– is defined as a medical condition where the brain does not grow properly resulting in a smaller than normal size head.

Mosaic Down Syndrome– represents 2 to 4% of all cases of people with Down Syndrome. This occurs when a person has a certain percentage of translocation cells with the remaining cells unaffected. meaning people with mosaic down syndrome have a certain percentage of cells with the extra 21 chromosome. The physical characteristics of mosaic down syndrome vary from having similar characteristics of a person with down syndrome to almost none.

Multiple Disabilities– having more than one disabilities such as an intellectual disability and cerebral palsy.

Muscular Dystrophy– a group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.


Neurodiversity– it is a viewpoi9nt that brain differences are normal, rather than deficits. This concept can help reduce stigma around learning and thinking differently.

Neurological Disorders– are diseases that affect the brain and the central and autonomic nervous system.

Non-Epileptic Seizure– displays characteristics similar to epilepsy seizures by mimicking similar signs and symptoms including control over their body through shaking movements, blacking out and falling. From the outside, the signs look similar however, the causes are quite different. Non-epileptic seizures, also known as non-epileptic attack disorders (NEAD) tend to resemble a seizure however, they are not caused by electrical impulses in the brain, rather it may be due to an overload of stress including a death in the family, abuse and past painful experiences, causing some to have difficulty handling thoughts and memories in the brain.

Nonverbal Learning Disorder-is defined as a person who has difficulty in interpreting and understanding non verbal cues in the environment If 93% of how we communicate is nonverbal, a person with nonverbal learning disorder is only getting 7% of daily communication.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- (OCD) is defined as a disorder that includes two core symptoms- obsessions and compulsions. According to the Census for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obsessions are defined by:

  • Thoughts, impulses, or images that occur over and over again. These thoughts, impulses or images are unwanted. They cause a lot of anxiety and stress.
  • The person who has these thoughts, impulses or images tries to ignore them or tries to make them go away.

Compulsions are defined as:

  • Repeated behaviors or thoughts over and over again or according to certain rules that must be followed exactly in order to make an obsession go away.
  • The person feels that the purpose of the behaviors or thoughts is to prevent or reduce distress or prevent some feared event or situation.

Occupational Therapy– helps individuals improve the development of their small muscle movements including face, hands, fingers, and toes.

Ohtahara Syndrome- is a rare type of seizure that affects infants and newborns. It is generally diagnosed before the age of 3 months. After several months, seizures may turn into West Syndrome or Lennox- Gestaut Syndrome.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder– (ODD) is defined as a pattern of hostile and defiant behaviors towards authority figures that exists for at least 6 months.


PECS– Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) allows individuals with little or no communication the ability to do so using pictures. The approach includes a person giving them a picture in exchange of an item. PECS teaches functional communication and includes 6 phases.

  1. How to communicate. In the first phase, the individual learns to exchange a single picture for an item or activity they want.
  2. Distance and persistence. The individual learns to generalize by using the picture with different people.
  3. Picture discrimination. The individual learns to select from two or more pictures to ask for something.
  4. Sentence structure. Individuals learn to construct simple sentences on a detachable sentence strip
  5. Responsive requesting. Individuals use PECS to answer wh questions.
  6. Commenting. individuals are taught to comment in response to questions.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder– PPD-Not Otherwise Specified (PPD-NOS) is a developmental disorder that falls on the autism spectrum children are given this diagnosis often meet some but not all of the criterial for autism

Physical Disability– the inability to perform activities associated with movement of the body parts due to deformities, disease or degeneration.

Physical Therapy– treatment used in relieving symptoms including tight muscles and helping people become more flexible.

PICA– refers to non-edible craving such as string, mud, paste, glue and hair which leads to iron-deficiency anemia.

Prader Will Syndrome– a genetic disorder resulting from an abnormality of chromosome 15 such as a loss of active genes. In most cases (70%) the paternal copy is missing and in some cases (25%), will exhibit two maternal copies of Chromosome 15. It is also the most common recognized genetic form of obesity.


Rett Syndrome– a neurodevelopmental disorder occurring mostly in females in which the child exhibits reduced muscle tone, autistic-like behaviors, stereotyped hand movements consisting of wringing and waving. It is a rare disorder that affects about 1 out of 10,000 children and is the most genetic causes of severe intellectual disability in females. Due to similarities to autism and cerebral palsy, it is often misdiagnosed.

Ring Chromosome 20– a chromosomal disorder that is the result of a ring that develops when a chromosome breaks in two places and the short arm of a chromosome has merged with the tip of the long arm.

Ring Chromosome 22– is a rare genetic condition caused by an abnormal chromosome 22 that forms a ring which causes both arms of the chromosome to break


Seizures Disorder– Electrical impulses occur when a group of cells in the brain cause an event. there are different types of seizures including generalized where the brain is affected. and myoclonic which included abrupt jerks of the muscle groups.

Self-Stimulatory Behavior– A variety of repetitive behaviors such as hand or arm flapping, rocking, running in circles and opening and closing a door used as a way to self-calm.

Sensory Processing Disorder– is a condition in which the brain has difficulty in receiving information from the senses. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • oversensitive
  • Common sounds may be overwhelming
  • Uncoordinated
  • Hard to engage in conversation or play

Sickle Cell Anemia– Cells take on the shape of a sickle which makes it difficult for the red blood cells to flow through the blood vessels thus causing pain in the bones, chest and abdominal.

Sign Language– a language that uses signs with the hands including facial expression and body movements to convey a message.

Spasticity- refers to the inability of a muscle to relax

Speech Therapy– works to assess, diagnose and treat speech language, communication, muscle control and swallowing disorders.

Spina Bifida– a birth defect in which a developing baby’s spinal cord does not develop.

Stimming– repetitive movement and sounds such as rocking back and forth.


Theory of Mind– beliefs, desires and intentions used to understand why someone acts a certain way or to predict how someone will act.

Tourette Syndrome– a neurodevelopment disorder causes repetitive movements that are involuntary inclucluding vocalizations.

Transitioning-a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with the disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation

Tuberous Sclerosis– A rare disorder that impacts vital organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, lings, and skin due to the growth of benign tumors in many parts of the body

Turner Syndrome– a rare disease that occurs in between one and 2,000 birth only affecting females. It has several names including Ullrich-Turner Syndrome, Bonnevie-Ullrich-Turner Syndrome. gonadal dysgenesis and 45X. This rare disease is the result of the absence of one set of genes from the short arm of one X chromosome.


Visual Schedule-a series of pictures that can be used to teach a daily routine as well as skills to perform a specific task. They can be created with pictures, photographs and written words.

Visual Spatial Processing- Difficulties with visual input

Visual Impairment– a decrease ability to see. there are different levels of blindness which range to form some visual loss to completed loss.


Wandering-when a person, who requires some level of supervision to be safe, leaves a supervised, safe space and/or the care of a responsible person and is expected to potential dangers such as traffic, open water (drowning), falling from a high place , hypothermia, heatstroke, dehydration. It is a behavior and is usually a form of communication. Individuals with autism will wander or bolt to get somethingof interest.

West Syndrome–  is a seizure disorder. The average onset generally begins at an average age of 6 months. Symptoms may include a pattern of an infant bending forward with a stiffening of the body, including the arms and the legs. Each episode generally last for a few seconds. These episodes typically occurs I clusters that can last up to 20 minutes. West syndrome accounts for approximately 30 percent of incidences involving infants. Boys are more likely to be affected than girls.

Williams Syndrome– also known as Williams-Beuren syndrome was discovered in 1961 by J.C.P. Williams, a Cardiologist from New Zealand. Williams Syndrome is a rare disorder with a prevalence of in 7,500 to 20,000 caused by the deletion of genetic material from chromosome 7. Williams syndrome symptoms include heart problems, low birth weight, and developmental delays. 75 percent are diagnosed with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities or a learning disability.

Updated 7/4/2020