Aphasia The complete or partial loss of ability to use or understand language.
Apraxia A disorder of voluntary movement, consisting of partial or total incapacity to execute purposeful movements, without impairment of muscular power, sensibility and coordination. The person has difficulty sequencing movements in the service of a goal. May be specific to speech.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Clinicians generally use behavioural analysis and clinical interventions to address behavioural pathologies and to teach skills. Early intervention using ABA breaks skills down to an appropriate sub-skill level for the individual then teaches the child each sub-skill through DTT and reinforcement. There is extensive research on using ABA in early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders.
Asperger's Disorder or Asperger's Syndrome (AS) A developmental disorder on the autism spectrum defined by impairments in communication and social development and by repetitive interests and behaviours. Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome have no significant delay in language and cognitive development. This diagnosis category appeared in the ICD-10 and the DSM-IV. It has been replaced by autism spectrum disorder in the DSM-5.
Assistive Technology Technology used to assist a person with a disability (for example alpha smarts or computer programs) particularly within the Government school system.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) A particular symptom complex with core symptoms including developmentally inappropriate degrees of attention, cognitive disorganisations, distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity, all of which vary in different situations and at different times. Common secondary symptoms include perceptual and emotional immaturity, poor social skills, disruptive behaviours and academic problems.
Atypical Autism A developmental disorder from the ICD-10 that is related to but does not quite fit the set of conditions for Childhood Autism or Asperger's Syndrome. Has been changed to ASD in DSM-5.
Auditory Integration Training (AIT) A technique used to relieve hearing dysfunctions by 'retraining' the ear to hear in a more balanced fashion.
Augmentative Communication The use of aids to help an autistic child communicate his/her wants and needs. For example, photographs and picture exchange communication.
Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders (AABASD) is a peak body for state and territory autism associations. It was formerly known as the Autism Council of Australia.
Autistic Savant An autistic individual who displays incredible aptitude for one or two skills (e.g. amazing musical or artistic ability).
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Formerly a term for three disorders listed under Pervasive Developmental Disorders in the DSM-IV Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) or four disorders listed in the ICD-10 Childhood Autism, Atypical Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Unspecified. The term autism spectrum disorder is used in the DSM-5. Under DSM-5, in use in Australia since May 2013, Autism Spectrum Disorder is now applied instead of Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS or Asperger's Syndrome. ASD is diagnosed with level 1, 2 or 3, where Level 1 Requiring Support, Level 2 Requiring Substantial Support, and Level 3 Requiring Very Substantial Support.
Co-morbid Condition Having more than one concurrent diagnosis. Another term for this would be 'dual diagnosis'. Many people with autism have one or more additional diagnoses, such as Tourette's Syndrome or Epilepsy.
Discrete Trial A distinct teaching or behavioural activity with three parts 1) a stimulus (or direction), 2) a response to the stimulus (or consequent behaviour) and 3) an outcome or consequence for the behaviour. Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is used extensively to teach and maintain skills in ABA and PECS. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the current version DSM-5 was published in 2013.
Dyspraxia A disorder of motor planning.
Echolalia Repeating words or phrases heard previously. The echoing may occur immediately after hearing the word or phrase, or much later. Delayed echolalia can occur days or weeks after hearing the word or phrase.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) A test that uses electrodes placed on the scalp to record electrical brain activity. It is often used to diagnose seizure disorders or to look for abnormal brain wave patterns.
Epilepsy A brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behaviour or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. A diagnosis of epilepsy needs to be confirmed using an EEG or brain scan.
Expressive Language The use of spoken language.
Fragile X Syndrome A genetic disorder that shares many of the characteristics of autism. Individuals can be tested for 'Fragile X' by having a special test ordered by a doctor.
High Functioning Autism (HFA) Some people like the term 'high function autism' for people with Autistic Disorder but without an Intellectual Disability.
Hyperlexia The ability to read at an early age. To be hyperlexic, a child does not need to understand what he or she is reading.
Hypotonia Low muscle tone.
International Classification of Diseases (ICD) The World Health Organization's ICD is the international standard diagnostic classification for all general epidemiological, many health management purposes and clinical use. It classifies diseases and disorders, including autism and the 10th edition (ICD-10), which came into effect in 1994.
Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) A plan that identifies the student's specific learning expectations and outlines how the school will address these expectations through appropriate special education programs and services. It also identifies the methods by which the student's progress will be reviewed. In the ACT, the Education Department replaced the Individual Education Plan (IEP) with the ILP.
Intelligence A broad concept made up of a large number of widely different yet specific skills. Its measurement through the use of intelligence tests attempts to assess these skills in order to provide a global score representative of an individual's level of functioning. Scores on intelligence tests relate a child's performance on the test to that of other children of the same chronological age.
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) A standard score derived from intelligence tests. It represents the intellectual age of the child (that is the age at which the average child would perform at a given standard) divided by the child's chronological age at the time of testing. The scores are organised such that 100 is an average score (i.e. when the intellectual age and chronological age are the same) but any score between 90 and 110 is considered average.
Joint Attention The ability to follow someone else's gaze and share the experience of looking together at an object or activity.
Learning Support Unit (LSU) and Learning Support Unit - Autism (LSU-A) A class or student group of up to eight students in a mainstream school in the ACT.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) A diagnostic technique that uses the magnetic qualities of body chemicals to produce an image of the brain.
Meltdown A meltdown is when a person with an ASD has received so much sensory information (sounds, lights, smells, etc.) that they lose control of their behaviour and appear to have a tantrum.
Neurotypical A term used for neurologically typical individuals.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Having a tendency to perform certain repetitive acts or ritualistic behaviour to relieve anxiety.
Occupational Therapist (OT) Individuals who specialise in the analysis of purposeful activity and tasks to minimise the impact of disability on independence in daily living. The therapist then helps the family to better cope with the disorder, by adapting the environment and teaching sub-skills of the missing developmental components.
Perseveration Repetitive movement or speech, or sticking to one idea or task that has a compulsive quality to it.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) are a group of disorders that all involve 'severe and pervasive impairment' in the DSM (see above). The DSM-IV lists the following five disorders: Autistic Disorder, Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger's Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) A diagnostic category that is used when there is a severe and pervasive impairment in the developmental of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and non-verbal communication skills or when stereotyped behaviours, interests and activities are present, but the criteria are not met for a specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) PECS is an alternative/augmentative communication system that was developed to teach functional communication to children with limited speech. Children are taught to exchange a single picture for a desired item and eventually to construct picture-based sentences and use a variety of attributes in their requests. All phases of PECS are DTT methods.
Pragmatics The use of language in social contexts (for example, knowing what to say, how to say it and when to say it).
Proprioception The ability to sense the position, location, orientation and movement of the body and its parts.
Rett's Disorder A (relatively rare) disintegrative disorder where after a period of normal development, between the ages of five months and 48 months, head growth decelerates and there is a loss of previously acquired skills. Other symptoms include stereotyped hand movements, uncoordinated movement and language difficulties. Only reported in females. Specific genes have been identified.
Receptive Language The ability to understand language of others.
Risperidal (generic name Risperidone) Risperdal, like other new antipsychotic drugs currently under development, is designed as a serotonin/dopamine antagonist. While its exact mechanism of action is not yet understood, Risperdal seems to block the action of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. Conventional antipsychotics seem to primarily affect only dopamine.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) A class of drugs used as antidepressants. Functionally, they increase the levels of serotonin in the body. These drugs can be dangerous if mixed with other drugs such as other antidepressants, illicit drugs, some antihistamines, antibiotics and calcium-channel blockers. Some examples of SSRIs are Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil.
Sensory Integration (SI) This is a term applied to the way the brain processes sensory stimulation or sensation from the body and then translates that information into specific, planned, coordinated motor activity.
Serotonin A neurotransmitter implicated in the behavioural- physiological processes of sleep, pain and sensory perception, motor function, appetite, learning and memory.
Special needs Teaching Assistant (STA) Teacher assistants that are employed in a variety of roles in schools to support the inclusion of students with special needs.
Speech Pathologist (formerly Speech Therapist) Individuals who specialise in the area of human communication. The focus is on communication, not speech, to increase the child's ability to impact and to understand their environment.
Support Teachers - Inclusion Support teachers who work to build teacher, school, and system skills and capacity to support students with a disability in mainstream classes. The team works with staff to assess, analyse, plan and evaluate strategies that aim to maximise student access, engagement and participation.
Stim Short for 'self-stimulation', a term for behaviours whose sole purpose appears to be to stimulate ones senses. Many people with autism report that some 'self-stims' may serve a regulatory function for them (i.e. calming, increasing concentration, or shutting out an overwhelming sound).
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related handicapped Children (TEACCH) This is a therapeutic approach broadly based on 'Structured Teaching' and the idea that individuals with autism more effectively use and understand visual cues. It focuses on promoting independence by using items such as picture schedules to break down tasks step-by-step. This enables an individual to better comprehend and perform the task independently. This approach often aids receptive communication and sequential memory.
Theory of Mind The ability to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one's own.
Tourette's Syndrome Both multiple motor and one or more vocal tics present with tics occurring many times a day, nearly daily, over a period of more than one year. The onset is before age 18 and the disturbance is not due to direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition. The disturbance causes marked distress or significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Vestibular Sense The 'movement sense'. This sense is involved in balance and position in space as well as muscle tone.
Visual Supports The presentation of information is a visually structured way to make it easier to understand; e.g. daily schedule may be shown using photographs or Boardmaker.