A free service for families who have children with special needs
living in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties of California
Special Education Terms

adaptive development - the acquisition of skills that are required to meet environmental demands. Adaptive development includes, but is not limited to, activities of self-care, such as dressing, eating, toileting, self-direction, environmental problem-solving and attention/arousal.

advocate - someone who takes action to help someone else (as in “educational advocate”).

assessment - the ongoing procedures used by qualified personnel throughout the period of an infant’s or toddler’s eligibility for early intervention services to identify the infant’s or toddler’s unique strengths and needs and the services appropriate to meet those needs. Assessment also includes the identification of the family’s resources, priorities, and concerns regarding the development of the infant or toddler and the supports and services necessary to enhance the family’s capacity to meet the developmental needs of the eligible infant or toddler.

at risk - a term used with children who have, or could have, problems with their development that may affect later learning.

attention deficit disorder (ADD) - a term describing a condition characterized by a short attention span. A combination of social, emotional, and learning difficulties and/or hyperactivity may also be experienced.

audiological services - related service provided by a licensed audiologist who identifies children with hearing loss and helps children with hearing losses to use their strengths and abilities.

autism - a severe neurological disability that affects the functioning of the brain, usually appearing during the first three years of life and characterized by impaired social development and difficulty in communicating.

cognitive development - means the acquisition of learning through ongoing interactions with the environment. Cognitive development involves perceiving, thinking, problem solving and remembering information.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC) - a group of parents of children with disabilities, members of the community, students, and special education professionals who advise the local education agencies about special education programs.

deaf-blind - a disability characterized by an impairment of both vision and hearing that affects a child’s ability to learn.

designated instruction and services (DIS) - additional services a student needs in order to profit from his or her IEP (speech, adaptive physical education, etc.)

developmental - having to do with the stages in growth and development before the age of 18.

developmental delays (DD) - a term used to describe the development of children when they are not able to perform the skills that other children of the same age are able to perform.

due process - the procedures used to make sure that parents and educators make fair decisions about the identification, assessment and placement of children with disabilities.

early intervention services - those services designed to meet the developmental needs of eligible infant or toddler and the needs of the family related to the infant’s or toddler’s development. The services include but are not limited to assistive technology; audiology; family training; counseling and home visits; health services; medical services only for diagnostic or evaluation purposes; nursing services; nutrition services, occupational therapy; physical therapy; psychological services; service coordination; social work services; special instruction; speech and language services; transportation and related costs; and vision services. Early intervention services may include such services as respite and other family support services.

evaluation - procedures used by qualified personnel to determine an infant’s or toddler’s present level of development.

extended school year (ESY) - a related service that provides a summer session to assist children in meeting the IEP goals.

fine motor skills - the use of muscles that control small and detailed movements of the body, as an example, in the hand related to manual dexterity and coordination.


free appropriate public education (FAPE) - one of the key requirements of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which requires that an education program be provided for all school-aged children without cost to families.

gross motor skills - the use of large muscles groups of the body, arms, or legs, as in sitting up, walking, or balancing.

hearing impairment (HI) - a condition, whether permanent or fluctuating, which impairs the processing of linguistic information through hearing, even with amplification, and which adversely affects an infant’s or toddler’s development. Processing linguistic information includes speech and language reception and speech and language discrimination.

inclusion - the participation by individuals with disabilities in the same community and educational activities as those without disabilities.

Individual Program Plan (IPP) - a plan developed for persons with developmental disabilities to describe the provision of services and supports to meet the written goals and objectives.

Individual Education Program (IEP) - a written statement plan for each student in special education describing the student’s present levels of performance, annual goals, specific special education and related services, dates for services and how the IEP will be evaluated.

Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) - a written plan for providing early intervention services to infants or toddlers and their families who have been determined eligible for early intervention services.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - amended and replaced PL 94-142 in October 1990; guarantees a free, appropriate education for children with special needs.

integration - children with and without disabilities participating in community activities together.

language delay - a lag or slowness in the development of a child’s ability to use or to understand language

language or speech disorder (LSD) - a term used to describe a disability in the area of speech and language.

least restrictive environment (LRE) - a term meaning children with disabilities must be educated (to the maximum extent appropriate) with children without disabilities.

local education agency (LEA) - the school district in which the infant or toddler resides or the county office of education or the special education local plan area (SELPA) that is responsible for providing early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities.

mainstreaming - placement of students with disabilities in typical classrooms under the direction of regular education teachers with support from special education teachers and/or designated instruction and services.

mediation - a voluntary resolution process in which an impartial third party may assist the disagreeing parties to resolve issues prior to a due process hearing.

multidisciplinary team - two or more individuals of various disciplines or professionals, and the parent, who participate in the provision of integrated and coordinated services, including evaluation, assessment, and IFSP development.

natural environment - is a location at which the program would still exist if children with disabilities did not attend. Natural learning environments are the places where children experience everyday, typically occurring learning opportunities that promote and enhance behavioral and developmental competencies.

occupational therapy (OT) - a related service provided by a licensed occupational therapist who assists children with fine motor activities and everyday tasks like eating, dressing, and hand use.

orientation and mobility (O&M) - a related service provided by an orientation and mobility specialist who teaches children with visual impairments how to know their position in space and how to move safely from place to place.

other health impairment (OHI) - a disability resulting from chronic or acute illness (e.g., heart condition, cancer, severe asthma, seizure disorder, communicable disease, etc.)

Part B - authorizes pre-school special education services for children ages 3-5.

Part C - authorizes Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers (ages 0-3) with disabilities and their families.

parent - a parent, guardian or person acting as a parent of an infant or toddler such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom an infant or toddler lives. Parent also means a person who is legally responsible for the infant’s or toddler’s welfare or a surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with 34 CFR 303.406. The term does not include the State if an infant or toddler is a ward of the State.

physical therapy (PT) - a related service provided by a licensed physical therapist who assists children with gross motor activities such as rolling, sitting, and walking.

placement - when a child is assigned to a special education classroom or to other special education services; placement occurs after the IFSP or IEP is written.

preschool - refers to classrooms that serve three to five year old children

program specialist - a specialist who is knowledgeable about special education and available programs, and is responsible for assuring that children receive needed available services.

related services/designated instructions and services (DIS) - a term referring to those support services children may need in order to benefit form their educational program.

self-help skills - a term relating to those skills associated with feeding, dressing, and toileting.

serious emotional disturbance (SED) - a disability characterized by behavior problems that prevent a child from learning or from getting along with other people; the behavior must occur for a long period of time and be severe.

service coordinator - a knowledgeable person who helps a family obtain the services needed by their child most often from the regional center or public schools.

solely low incidence disability - one or a combination of low incidence disabilities which are vision impairment, severe orthopedic impairment, and hearing impairment which is the primary disability and has a significant impact on learning and development of the infant or toddler who has a solely low incidence disability shall not be eligible for services from a regional center.

special day class (SDC) - a classroom that is appropriate for children who would benefit from specialized services for over half the school day; the children receive most of their instruction from a special education teacher.

specific learning disabilities (SLD) - a disability characterized by problems using language, remembering, concentrating, following instructions, reading, calculating, or learning through listening or looking.

speech/language therapy - related services provided by a remedial language and speech therapist or speech pathologist who helps children learn to communicate.

transition - a time in a person’s life when he or she moves from one education program to another (e.g., changing from an early intervention program to preschool or from high school to work).

vision impairment - a visual condition which, even with correction, adversely affects the infant’s or toddler’s development.