The ABCs of ASDs

alphabet blocksHas your child recently been diagnosed as having autism? Parents can find the jargon and abbreviations that are used by teachers and staff in a Special Education program to be confusing and overwhelming. Here is a quick list of definitions that make everything much clearer. Think of it as the ABCs of autism in a school environment.

ABA: Applied Behavior Analysis
It is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by environment. This therapy can help children who have autism to pick up on the social cues that their peers, who do not have autism, will naturally figure out on their own.

ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
It has been referred to as the “gold standard” for assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The ADOS assesses behavior, communication, social interaction, play, and the imaginative use of materials for individuals that are suspected to have autism.

ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
This term now includes what was once called Aspergers Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.) This is how the DSM-5, which will be published in May of 2013, has redefined it.

ESY: Extended School Year
Children who have an autism spectrum disorder can qualify to attend what some might refer to as “Summer School”. The primary purpose is to reduce the potential for skill regression over the months when school would typically be closed. It can also help kids who have autism to continue the pattern of going to school through the Summer, and make transition into a new school year a little easier.

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act
This is a national law that ensures services to children (and adults) who have disabilities. It governs how states and public agencies (such as public schools) provide things like early intervention and special education related services. In other words, this is the law that requires your child’s school to accommodate for his or her special needs.

IEP: Individual Educational Plan
This is something that came from the IDEA. Students who are in Special Educational programs will end up with an IEP. It is a plan that is specifically designed to help your child’s needs be met at school. The IEP will be created by a team that may include his teacher, the principal, school counselors, resource teachers, and parents. It can include information about how and when staff will redirect or discipline your child.

LRE: Least Restrictive Environment
Typically, a least restrictive environment would be one that allows for your child to be included with general education students, and in general education classes, as much as possible. Consideration is given to your child’s specific special needs.

Image by MRCPLChildrens on Flickr