We are grateful to the authors and publisher of The Complete Autism Handbook for allowing us to use the Glossary from the book.
ABA: Applied Behaviour Analysis.
ABAS: Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System.
Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System: Measure designed to assess adaptive living skills.
Adaptive living skills: Behaviours necessary for people to live independently and to function safely and appropriately in daily life, such as grooming, dressing, ability to work, social skills etc.
ADEC: See Autism Detection in Early Childhood. ADHD: See Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADI-R: Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised.
Adjustment: A measure or action taken to assist a student with a disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students.
ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.
Allistic: Not autistic. See neurotypical, which is a closely related term.
Applied Behavioural Analysis: An intervention model based on Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning, which reinforces wanted Behaviours, and reduces unwanted Behaviours.
Apraxia of speech: Also known as verbal apraxia or dyspraxia, this is a speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently.
ASD: Autism spectrum disorder.
Asperger’s disorder/syndrome: A form of ASD, characterized by normal IQ but impairments in social interaction and communication.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Disorder in children associated with three main kinds of problems: overactive Behaviour (hyperactivity), impulsive Behaviour, and difficulty in paying attention
Atypical antipsychotic: A newer type of medicine, used to treat psychosis, which has a better side effect profile than older antipsychotic medications; sometimes used to treat some of the symptoms of autism.
Alternative and augmentative communication: Use of sign language, picture communication symbols or speech generating devices to replace or augment the speech of a person with autism.
Autism: See Autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Detection in Early Childhood: An ASD screening tool.
Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised: A diagnostic interview for ASD. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule: A diagnostic tool for ASD.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A neurological disorder characterized by social/ communication deficits, fixated interests and repetitive behaviours.
Blind or blinded study: A study in which the researcher and/or the patients are unaware of whether they have been assigned to the group receiving the active treatment or to the control group.
Blood brain barrier: A protective barrier which prevents some substances in the blood from entering brain tissue.
CARS: Childhood Autism Rating Scale. CBT: Cognitive Behaviour therapy.
Central nervous system: The part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord.
CHAT: Checklist for Autism in Toddlers.
Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: An ASD screening tool.
Childhood Autism Rating Scale: A screening and diagnostic tool for ASD.
Childhood disintegrative disorder: An extremely rare pervasive developmental disorder in which a child appears to develop normally until the age of two and then regresses.
Clinical trial: A research study conducted with patients which tests out a drug or other intervention to assess its effectiveness and safety.
Cognitive: Pertaining to cognition, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and
Cognitive Behaviour therapy: A type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence Behaviours. CBT is commonly used to treat depression and anxiety.
Control: In clinical trials comparing two or more interventions, a control is a person in the comparison group that receives a placebo, no intervention, usual care or another form of care.
Developmental disorder: A disorder that interrupts normal development in childhood. A developmental disorder may affect a single area of development (specific developmental disorder) or several (pervasive developmental disorder).
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: American Psychiatric Association’s official manual used by most professionals for diagnosis of ASD. In 2013 the fifth edition (DSM-5) will be published.
Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders: A diagnostic interview for ASD.
DIR/Floortime: A developmental early intervention model. DIR stands for Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship-Based Model.
DISCO: Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders.
Discrete Trial Training: An ABA method which requires the therapists to break down skills into small tasks that are achievable and are taught in a very structured manner.
DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, Text Revision.
DTT: See Discrete Trial Training. Dyspraxia: A disorder of motor planning.
Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention: An individualized, intensive intervention program which involves the systematic use of ABA techniques.
Early Start Denver Model: An early intervention model that combines developmental and Behavioural approaches and targets very young children.
Echolalia: Repeating words or phrases, often over and over, without necessarily understanding their meaning.
EIBI: See early intensive Behavioural intervention ESDM: See Early Start Denver Model.
Epidemiology: The study of how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why.
Epilepsy: A brain disorder involving recurrent seizures; sudden changes in Behaviour due to excessive electrical activity in the brain.
Evidence-based: Refers to the use of best evidence derived from methodologically rigorous, valid research.
Executive function: The cognitive process that regulates an individual’s ability to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks, manage time efficiently and make decisions.
Expressive communication: Sending information or messages to other people. This could involve use of speech or augmentative communication.
FaHCSIA: Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Fine motor skills: Activities which require the co-ordination of smaller body muscles, for example, writing.
Functional analysis: Process of carefully observing Behaviour to determine what sets off the chain of events that lead to a problem Behaviour, such as tantrums or aggression.
GFCF diet: See Gluten-free, casein-free diet.
GLD: Gifted learning disabled. See twice exceptional.
Gluten-free, casein-free diet: A diet believed by some to help improve the symptoms of autism. It involves elimination from the diet of gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) and casein (a protein found in dairy products).
Griffiths Scales of Mental Development: A developmental assessment.
Gross motor skills: Body movements which utilize larger muscle groups such as sitting, kicking and jumping.
HCWA: Helping Children with Autism package.
HFA: High-functioning autism.
Hidden curriculum: Important social skills that everyone knows, but no one is taught.
High functioning autism: Autism in individuals with normal/ near-normal IQ.
ICD 10: International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
IEP: Individual education plan.
Individual education plan: A document that delineates special education services for special needs student
Intellectual disability: An impaired ability to learn, as measured by IQ score (<70) and associated difficulties in adaptive functioning. It is a condition which presents before the age of eighteen.
Intelligence quotient: The ratio of tested mental age to chronological age, usually expressed as a quotient multiplied by 100.
International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems: Manual produced by the World Health Organization, which provides codes to classify diseases and disorders. The latest version is known as ICD 10.
IQ: Intelligence quotient.
Joint attention: Ability to follow someone else’s gaze and share the experience of looking at an object or activity.
Key word sign: A manual signing system sometimes used to augment verbal communication for individuals with ASD; formerly known as Makaton.
LFA: See Low-functioning autism.
Low-functioning autism: Autism associated with an intellectual disability.
Mainstreaming: The concept that students with special needs should, when appropriate, be integrated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.
M-CHAT: Modified Checklist for Autism in Children.
Meta-analysis: A statistical technique for combining the findings from independent clinical trials.
Modified Checklist for Autism in Children: An ASD screening tool.
Motor planning: The brain’s ability to conceive, organize and execute a sequence of complex physical actions.
Neurological: Having to do with the nerves or the nervous system.
Neurology: The medical science that deals with the nervous system and disorders affecting it.
Neurotransmitter: A chemical messenger released from one nerve cell which makes its way to another nerve cell where it influences a particular chemical reaction to occur.
Neurotypical: commonly abbreviated as NT and meaning having a neurocognitive functioning that is considered typical. The term NT is often used to describe people who are not autistic, though formally, the more accurate term is “allist.”
Observational Study: A study in which the investigators do not seek to intervene, and simply observe the course of events
Obsessive compulsive disorder: Disorder where a person has recurrent unwanted ideas (obsessions) and an urge (compulsion) to do something to relieve the obsession.
Occupational therapy: Therapy which focuses on improving development of fine and gross motor skills, sensory integration and daily living skills.
OCD: See Obsessive compulsive disorder.
Open trial: A clinical trial in which the investigator and participant are aware which intervention is being used for which participant (that is, not blinded).
Opioid: A substance with pharmacological action like that of opium or its derivatives (for example, morphine).
OT: Occupational therapy.
Outcome measure: The measure of an effect or impact of an intervention on the participants.
PDD: See Pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified.
PDD-NOS: See pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified. PECs: Picture Exchange Communication System.
Peer-review: A refereeing process for checking the quality and importance of reports of research. An article submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal is reviewed by other experts in the area.
Pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified: An ASD where a child presents with impairments in social communication and Behaviour but symptoms are not severe enough, or of sufficient number, to qualify for a diagnosis of autistic/Asperger’s disorder. It will cease to exist as a diagnosis under DSM-5.
Phenotype: The appearance of an individual, which results from the interaction of the person’s genetic makeup and his or her environment.
Pica: Ingestion of non-food items.
Picture Exchange Communication System: A visual augmentative communication system.
Pivotal Response Training: A contemporary ABA intervention.
Placebo effect: Psychological benefit to the participant through a belief that they are receiving treatment.
Placebo: An inactive intervention, received by the participants in the control group in a clinical trial, which is indistinguishable from the active Intervention received by patients in the experimental group.
Pragmatics: Use of language in the social contexts.
Presuming competence: The assumption that every individual is capable of learning and growing and wants to be included, accepted, and given opportunities to contribute.
Prevalence: A measure of the number of cases of a disorder in a defined population at a particular point in time. It differs from incidence, the rate at which new cases occur in a population during a specific time period.
Prolactin: A hormone which stimulates breast development and milk production.
Proprioception: A sense that informs us the position of our body parts.
Randomized controlled trial: Study design in which enrollment into a study is done by random allocation, that is, the patient has no greater likelihood or receiving the treatment or placebo (or the comparison treatment) than could be expected by chance alone.
RCT: Randomized, controlled trial.
RDI: See Relationship Development Intervention.
Receptive communication: Receiving and understanding messages from others.
Relationship Development Intervention: A developmental intervention model.
REM: Rapid eye movement.
Rett’s disorder: A rare genetic disorder, usually only found in females, in which a child appears to develop normally for a period and then regresses. Removed as a PDD from the DSM-5.
Risk factor: An aspect of a person’s condition, lifestyle or environment that increases the probability of occurrence of a disease or condition:
Rubella: German measles.
SCERTS: Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Supports Model.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: A class of antidepressant medicines sometimes prescribed to help manage anxiety and repetitive Behaviours associated with ASD.
Self-stimulatory Behaviour: Commonly referred to as a ‘stim’. Any kind of repetitive or stereotypic Behaviour (for example, staring at lights, flapping hands, rocking etc), which is believed to provide some form or sensory stimulation.
Sensory integration therapy: Therapy which aims to improve the way the brain processes and organizes the senses.
Social communication disorder: New language disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Ed. (DSM-5).
Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Supports Model: An early intervention model combining elements of contemporary ABA and developmental methods.
Social pragmatics: See Pragmatics.
SSRI: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
Stereotypy: Persistent repetition of body movements, ideas, or words.
Stimming: Engaging in self-stimulatory Behaviour.
Stimulant medications: Class of drugs used to treat ADHD.
TEACCH: Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children.
Theory of mind: Ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand what another person thinks, feels, desires, intends or believes.
Tic: A repetitive movement that is difficult, if not impossible, to control.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication- Handicapped Children: An early intervention model which emphasizes structured teaching.
Twice exceptional: People who are cognitively gifted while also having a learning disability and/or special needs.
Vestibular: Pertaining to the sensory system in the inner ear that governs posture and balance.
Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales: Measures designed to assess adaptive living skills.
Visual supports: The presentation of information in a visually structured manner to make it easier to understand, for example, a daily schedule may be shown by photographs or cartoons.
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children: An IQ test.
Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence: An IQ test. WISC: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.
WPPSI: Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence.