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«100 DAY KIT FOR SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN Glossary Note: Visit the Autism Speaks Video Glossary at AutismSpeaks.org/what-autism/video-glossary to see video ...»

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Note: Visit the Autism Speaks Video Glossary at


to see video of the items in blue.


Absence Seizure, see Seizures.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the US law that ensures rights of persons with

disabilities with regard to employment and other issues.

Angelman Syndrome is a genetic disorder causing developmental delays and neurological problems, often accompanied by seizures. Children often display hyperactivity, small head size, sleep disorders and movement and balance disorders.

Anticonvulsant is a type of drug used to prevent or stop seizures or convulsions; also called antiepileptic.

Anxiety Disorder is a disorder that affects an estimated 30% of individuals with autism and includes social phobia, separation anxiety, panic disorder and specific phobias. An individual suffering from anxiety may experience strong internal sensations of tension such as a racing heart, muscular tensions and stomachache.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a style of teaching using series of trials to shape desired behavior or response. Skills are broken into small components and taught to child through a system of reinforcement.

Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder on the Autism spectrum defined by impairments in communication and social development and by repetitive interests and behaviors, without a significant delay in language and cognitive development. The diagnosis is no longer used in DSM5, but DSM5 indicates that individuals with a “well-established diagnosis” of these conditions “should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.” Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects approximately 1 in 5 children with autism. Symptoms include chronic problems with inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Audiologist is a professional who diagnoses and treats individuals with hearing loss or balance problems.

Auditory Integration Training, or sound therapy, is used to treat children with difficulties in auditory processing or sound sensitivity and involves the individual listening to electronically modified music through headphones during multiple sessions.

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is a test considered to be current gold standard for diagnosing ASD and, along with information from parents, should be incorporated into a child’s evaluation.

Autism Speaks Insurance Link is a tool to help families in the autism community determine whether an individual is entitled to coverage for the treatment of autism under their health insurance plan.


Autism Speaks Toddler Treatment Network (TTN) supports a consortium of research sites studying behavioral interventions appropriate for children under 18 months of age.

Autism Spectrum Disorder and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

B C Casein is protein found in milk, used in forming the basis of cheese and as a food additive.

Celiac Disease is a disease in which there is an immunological reaction within the inner lining of the small intestine to gluten, causing inflammation that destroys the lining and reduces the absorption of dietary nutrients. It can lead to symptoms of nutritional, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is a disorder in which development begins normally in all areas, physical and mental. At some point between 2 and 10 years of age, the child loses previously developed skills. The child may lose social and language skills and other functions, including bowel and bladder control. The diagnosis is no longer used in DSM5, but DSM5 indicates that individuals with a “well-established diagnosis” of these conditions “should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.” Chronic Constipation is an ongoing condition of having fewer than three bowel movements per week.

Cognitive Skills are any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge;

these skills include reasoning, perception and judgment.

Colitis is inflammation of the large intestine.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a lab test reporting number of white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin, hematocrit and other values reflecting overall blood health.

Compulsions are deliberate repetitive behaviors that follow specific rules, such as pertaining to cleaning, checking or counting. In young children, restricted patterns of interest may be early sign of compulsions.

Computed Axial Tomography (CT) examines organs by scanning with X rays and using computer to construct series of cross-sectional scans. Called “CAT” scan.

D Declarative Language is used to communicate what the mind is producing. It is what is most common in conversation, whereas Imperative Language is used to ask questions, make commands or give instructions.

Developmental Disorder refers to several disorders that affect normal development. May affect single area of development (specific developmental disorders) or several (pervasive developmental disorders).

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Developmental Individual Difference Relationship (DIR) is a type of therapy, known as Floortime, that seeks to move the child toward increasingly complex interactions through mutually shared engagement.

Developmental Milestones are skills or behaviors that most children can do by a certain age that enable the monitoring of learning, behavior and development.

Developmental Pediatrician is a medical doctor who is board-accredited and has received sub-specialty training in developmental-behavioral pediatrics.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the official system for classification of psychological and psychiatric disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013 that, among other changes, established new criteria for an autism diagnosis, eliminated the previously separate subcategories on the autism spectrum, including Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Autistic Disorder and added a new category called Social Communication Disorder (SCD).

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is a technique incorporating principles of ABA, including positive reinforcement used to teach behaviors in one-to-one setting. Concepts are broken down into small parts.

E Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) is a network of research sites that enrolls and follows a large group of mothers of children with autism at the start of another pregnancy and documents the newborn child’s development through three years of age.

Early Intervention (EI) is a state-funded program designed to identify and treat developmental problems or other disabilities as early as possible. Eligibility for EI is from birth to three years of age.

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive behavioral early intervention approach for children with autism, ages 12 to 48 months, that uses a developmental curriculum that defines the skills to be taught at any given time and a set of teaching procedures used to deliver this content.

Echolalia is repeating words or phrases heard previously, either immediately after hearing word or phrase or much later. Delayed echolalia occurs days or weeks later. Functional echolalia is using quoted phrase in a way that has shared meaning, for example, saying “carry you” to ask to be carried.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test using electrodes on scalp to record electrical brain activity. For diagnoses of seizure disorder or abnormal brain wave patterns.

Epilepsy (seizure disorder) is a pattern of repeated seizures, causes include head injury, brain tumor, lead poisoning, genetic and infectious illnesses. Cause is unknown in 50% of cases.

Esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus, the soft tube-like portion of the digestive tract connecting the pharynx with the stomach.

Expressive Labeling is the communication of a name for an object or person, see expressive language.

Expressive Language is communication of intentions, desires or ideas to others, through speech or printed words and includes gestures, signing, communication board and other forms of expression.


Extended School Year (ESY) Services are provided during breaks from school, such as during summer vacation, for students who experience substantial regression in skills during school vacations.

F Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) means that education must be provided to all children ages three to twenty-one at public expense.

Floortime is a developmental intervention for children with autism involving meeting a child at his current developmental level and building upon a particular set of strengths.

Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder that shares many of the characteristics of autism.

Individuals may be tested for Fragile X.

G Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach.

Gastroenterologist is a doctor specializing in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of Gl tract, including esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and biliary system.

Gastroesophageal Reflux is the return of stomach contents back up into the esophagus which frequently causes heartburn due to irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid.

Gastrointestinal pertains to the digestive tract, including the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum.

Geneticist refers to a medical doctor who specializes in genetic problems. Genes are the unit in the chromosome that contain the blueprint for the transmission of inherited characteristics.

Gestures are hand and head movements, used to signal to someone else, such as a give, reach, wave, point or head shake. They convey information or express emotions without the use of words.

Global Developmental Delay is diagnosis in children younger than 5, characterized by delay in two or more developmental domains, sometimes associated with mental retardation.

Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye and barley.

Grand mal seizure, see Seizures.

H High Risk Baby Siblings Research Consortium (BSRC) is a joint venture between Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that is focused on making discoveries that will help researchers develop new ways to treat or even prevent debilitating symptoms by intervening at an early age.

Hyperlexia is the ability to read at an early age. To be hyperlexic, a child does not need to understand what he or she is reading.

Hyperresponsiveness, hypersensitivity, see Sensory Defensiveness.

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Hyporesponsiveness, hyposensitivity, is abnormal insensitivity to sensory input. Could be exhibited by a child who appears to be deaf, whose hearing is normal, is under reactive to sensory input, may have a high tolerance to pain, may be clumsy, sensation seeking and may act aggressively.

I Incidental Teaching teaches a child new skills while in their home or community, in natural context or “in the moment,” to help make sense of what they learn during formal instruction and generalize new skills.

Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is developed by a multidisciplinary team including family as primary participant. Describes child’s level of development in all areas; family’s resources, priorities and concerns, services to be received and the frequency, intensity and method of delivery. Must state natural environments in which services will occur.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP) identifies student’s specific learning expectations, how school will address them with appropriate services and methods to review progress.

For students 14 and older, must contain plan to transition to postsecondary education or the workplace or to help the student live as independently as possible in the community.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the US law mandating the “Free and Public Education” of all persons with disabilities between ages 3 and 21.

Inclusion involves educating all children in regular classrooms, regardless of degree or severity of disability. Effective inclusion takes place with planned system of training and supports; involves collaboration of multidisciplinary team including regular and special educators.

J Joint Attention is the process of sharing one’s experience of observing an object or event, by following gaze or pointing gestures. Critical for social development, language acquisition, cognitive development. Impairment in joint attention is a core deficit of ASD.

K L Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is setting that least restricts opportunities for child with disabilities to be with peers without disabilities. The law mandates that every child with a disability be educated in a Least Restrictive Environment.

M Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic technique using powerful electromagnets, radio frequency waves and a computer to produce well defined images of the body’s internal structures.

Mainstreaming is where students are expected to participate in existing regular ed classes, whereas in an inclusive program classes are designed for all students. May be gradual, partial or part-time process (e.g., student may attend separate classes within regular school or participate in regular gym and lunch only).


Melatonin is a hormone produced by pineal gland, involved in regulating sleeping and waking cycles. Sometimes used for chronic insomnia. Consult your child’s physician before giving melatonin; it is not recommended for all patients with sleep problems.

Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) is a screening tool for identifying young children who may be referred to specialist for further evaluation and possible Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

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