The Growing List of Acronyms

Here’s some definitions to the scary acronyms.  
We keep updating this list; let us know if there are any you think we should add!

ABA Therapy: Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy.  This is the type of therapy that Nate is engaged in.

ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.  The final test that determined that Nate is autistic, which you can read about here.

BCBA: Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  This therapist is here to help Chad and I raise a child who happens to have autism.  Due to a series of staffing events, we have had four BCBAs.

DSM: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides a standard criteria for the diagnosis of many disorders, including autism.

FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education.  Per the United States Department of Education’s website, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance, including Federal funds.  This section provides that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”   Since public schools receive Federal funding from the US Department of Education, public schools are required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education to each qualified person with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s disability.

FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  FERPA is a Federal law that is administered by the Family Policy Compliance Office at the U.S. Department of Education and applies to schools that receive funding from the Department of Education (meaning private schools are exempt from this law). It outlines parental rights for access to your child’s education records, the right to have those records amended, the right to consent disclosure of personally identifiable information, and the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.  You can read the full document here.

IEP: Individualized Education Program.  This is a federally required document for any child in the public school special education program that outlines the student’s individual needs and goals in the system.  By law, it must meet the special needs of your child while simultaneously balancing the precarious “least restrictive environment” rule (see below).  The IEP is a jointly agreed upon document created by a team of special ed teachers at your child’s school and the child’s parents/guardians and is revisited a minimum of once per year at the PPT (see below).

IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan.  It’s Nate’s personalized therapy schedule: what he’s getting, why he’s getting it, and what we want him to achieve.  It’s updated every few months to reflect what he’s learned and what else we want him to accomplish.  This is what is used in his Birth to Three program, the state run program for kids who need extra help between ages of 0 – 3.  Once Nate turns three, his therapy services and needs are handed over to the public school system.  (See IEP.)

Least Restrictive Environment: A component of the United States Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, public schools are required to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate to the individual student’s needs.  This means that a child with a disability should be afforded the opportunity to learn alongside normal ability children to the best of the special needs child’s ability.  Additional help may be provided to assist the special needs child in achieving this goal.  If the special needs child is unable to function in a normal school environment, then a more restrictive environment (i.e. special education program at the public school, private school, or hospital) must be provided at the public school’s expense.  The Least Restrictive Environment is determined as part of the IEP and can be revisited at any time.

M-CHAT: the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers.  Nate took this test prior to taking his ADOS test.  You can read about our experience with the M-CHAT here.

PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System.  It’s how we’re helping Nate “talk.”  See this entry for details.

PPD-NOS: Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified.  It’s a disorder that demonstrate some of, but not all of, the classic symptoms of autism.

PPT: Planning and Placement Team.  This team is comprised of a school administrator, representatives from the special education program at your child’s school, and the child’s parents and/or guardians.  Parents and guardians are allowed to bring anyone else that they would like to the meeting provided it is declared on the paperwork for the meeting (i.e. pediatricians, specialists, lawyers, Chuck Norris….)  This group is responsible for crafting and approving the IEP and can be called to assemble at any time should an issue arise or the IEP need to be revisited.