Frequently Used Terms
As you start investigating the possibilities of special education services, you'll find a whole new set of words and acronyms that will be important to know. Some of the most frequently used terms are below.
Special Education Categories
Eligibility for special education is based upon placement into one of the special education categories listed below. Eligibility for a specific category is determined by an educational evaluation. Categories include: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Deaf-Blind, Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (E/BD), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), Developmental Cognitive Disabilities (DCD), Other Health Disabilities (OHD), Physically Impaired (PI), Severely Multiply Impaired (SMI), Specific Learning Disability (SLD), Speech or Language Impairments, Visually Impaired (VI), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Developmental Delay (DD).
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) - a range of pervasive developmental disorders, with onset in childhood, that adversely affect a child's functioning and result in the need for special education instruction and related services. ASD is a disability category characterized by an uneven developmental profile and a pattern of qualitative impairments in several areas of development, including social interaction, communication, or the presence of restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. These core features may present themselves in a wide variety of combinations that range from mild to severe, and the number of behavioral indicators present may vary. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1325.html
Deaf-Blind - medically verified visual loss coupled with medically verified hearing loss that, together, interfere with acquiring information or interacting in the environment. Both conditions need to be present simultaneously, and the pupil must meet the criteria for both visually impaired and deaf and hard of hearing to be eligible for special education and services under this category. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1327.html
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) - a diminished sensitivity to sound, or hearing loss, that is expressed in terms of standard audiological measures. Hearing loss has the potential to affect educational, communicative, or social functioning that may result in the need for special education instruction and related services. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1331.html
Developmental Delay (DD) - category for children birth through 6 years 11 months of age who experience delays in areas of development, including cognitive development, physical/motor development, communication, social/emotional development, or adaptive skills. This category may also be used for children under seven years of age who have a diagnosed medical condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay. For Minnesota State criteria see https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=3525.1351
Developmental Cognitive Disabilities (DCD) - a condition resulting in significantly below average intellectual functioning and concurrent deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affects educational performance. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1333.html
Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (E/BD) - category for children with an established pattern of one or more of the following emotional or behavioral responses: a) withdrawal or anxiety, depression, problems with mood, or feelings of self-worth; b) disordered thought processes with unusual behavior patterns and atypical communication styles; or c) aggression, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. The established pattern of emotional or behavioral responses must adversely affect educational or developmental performance, including intrapersonal, academic, vocational, or social skills; be significantly different from appropriate age, cultural, or ethnic norms; and be more than temporary, expected responses to stressful events in the environment. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1329.html
Other Health Disability (OHD) - category for students having a medically diagnosed chronic or acute health condition that results in limited strength, endurance, vitality, or alertness (including a heightened or diminished alertness to environmental stimuli) with respect to the educational environment. For Minnesota state criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1335.html
Physically Impaired (PI) - category for children with a medically diagnosed chronic physical impairment, either congenital or acquired, that may adversely affect physical or academic functioning and result in the need for special education and related services. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1337.html
Severely Multiply Impaired (SMI) - a student who has severe learning and developmental problems resulting from two or more disability conditions including: Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Physically Impaired, Developmental Cognitive Disability (Severe-Profound), Visual Impairment, Emotional or Behavioral Disorders, or Autism Spectrum Disorders. The combination of disorders causes severe educational needs that cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1339.html
Specific Learning Disability (SLD) - a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved a student's ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1341.html
Speech or Language Impairment - a communication disorder, such as impaired fluency, impaired articulation, language impairment or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1343.html
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - category for child who has an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1348.html
Visually Impaired (VI) - medically verified visual impairment accompanied by limitations in sight that interfere with acquiring information or interaction with the environment to the extent that special education instruction and related services may be needed. For Minnesota State criteria see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/1345.html
Other Special Education Terms
Accommodations - special adjustments to a child's school day, within the classroom, or within a testing situation to match the child's learning styles and abilities. Accommodations for each child are different depending on specific needs and characteristics.
Annual goals - as part of a child's Individual Education Plan (see IEP), specific goals are written annually for the student to address developmental and academic weaknesses. For example, a child with a delay in social skills may have a goal to increase his ability to respond appropriately with his peers.
Assistive Technology Device - any piece of equipment, strategy, or product that assists or improves functional capabilities of a child with a disability. For example, a child with a speech delay may need to use a voice output device to request a snack.
Extended School Year Services (ESY) - services provided to a student beyond the normal school year when the student's IEP team determines that the services are necessary. For Minnesota Rules regarding ESY see www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/arule/3525/0755.html
IEP - Individualized Educational Plan- a document that outlines an eligible student's special education program and related services. The IEP includes a description of the needs of the student and a description of how those needs will be addressed through the special education program.
IEP meeting - A meeting that takes place at least annually with a student's parents, teacher(s), and related service providers to develop and review an IEP for a student who is receiving special education.
IFSP - Individualized Family Service Plan - An annually written plan for providing early intervention services to an eligible child and the child's family.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - Federal law mandates that children with disabilities are educated in the most appropriate setting that provides maximum access to typically developing peers and typical activities for that child's age.
Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) - A portion of the IEP document that explains a child's skills and abilities in each area of development.
Related Services - school districts provide related services a child needs in order to benefit from his or her special education program, which can include audiology services, behavior support, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical therapy.
Short-term objectives - Each annual goal on the child's IEP includes short-term benchmarks to reach the annual goal.