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Special Needs Terminology

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ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by symptoms of inattention and/or impulsivity and hyperactivity.
ASD Autism is sometimes referred to as "autisic spectrum disorder" (ASD). The word 'spectrum' is used because, while all people with autism share three main areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in very different ways.
Asperger Syndrome A form of autism, people with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
Autism Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colors.
Cerebral Palsy Cerebral palsy is a condition in which impairment to the immature brain affects movement, posture and co-ordination. Cerebral palsy is a wide-ranging condition and can affect people in many different ways. There are three types of cerebral palsy:
  • Spastic - Causes the muscles to stiffen and decreases the range of movement in the joints
  • Dyskinetic - Difficulty with movement, make involuntary movements, speech can be hard to understand
  • Ataxic - Difficulty to balance and have poor spatial awareness

It can be difficult to state what type of cerebral palsy a person has as it is common to have a combination of two or more types.

Dyslexia Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native language—despite at least average intelligence.
HFA Not an official diagnosis, but can be used to refer to high-functioning individuals who clearly show autistic tendencies.
Hypersensitivity/Sensory Overload Inability to process or manage the amount or intensity of sensory stimuli, frequently observed with autism spectrum disorders, dementia and other mental health challenges such as;
  • Irritability, anxiety, restlessness
  • Anger, aggression, violence
  • Fatigue, sleeplessness
  • Reduced abilities
  • Hallucinations, illusions, disorientation
  • Tension, stress, anxiety, frustration
  • Coping behaviors
Occupational Therapist (OT) The role of an occupational therapist is to work with a client to help them achieve a fulfilled and satisfied state in life through the use of "purposeful activity or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability and which develop, improve, sustain or restore the highest possible level of independence.
PDD Stands for pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) and refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Other types of PDD include Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett syndrome.
Occupational PMLD People with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), meaning they have more than one disability and are categorized mentally as having an IQ of less than 20. People with PMLD will have:
  • A profound learning disability
  • Difficulty in communicating
  • To receive high levels of support
  • Behaviors that challenge us
Sensory Integration (SI) The process by which your brain interprets the things you see, feel, smell, hears, taste; and then instructs your body to behave. Sensory Integration treatment is rich in vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile inputs.
  • Climbing - is a great way to become aware of your body and its position in space. A child’s weight combined with gravity offers proprioceptive feedback.
  • Scooters - flying down the ramp gives kids vestibular stimulation and pulling their body weight up the ramp gives them proprioceptive feedback.
  • Swings - provide vestibular stimulation in multiple planes, some even spin or bounce. Swings can provide stimulation to help relax or even stimulate the individual depending on the level of input.
  • Weighted Blankets and Vests- Provide constant, deep pressure input, which helps with calming and organizing
Occupational SLD Stands for severe learning disabilities and are categorized mentally as having an IQ between 20 and 50.
Snoezelen® / Multi-Sensory Environment (MSE)
  • The word Snoezelen originates from the Dutch words for Snuffllen (to seek out) & Doezelen (to relax)
  • Originated in Holland in the early 80s as a concept of recreation/relaxation for disabled adults
  • Use extended to seniors and children, people with mental illness, chronic pain, autism, ABI and the mainstream population
  • Now used in therapy, education, distraction, treatment
  • Developed as a distinct environment but also available in portable systems- Cart, SUV, Snoezelen mobile
  • Sensory concepts extended into all aspects of life
  • Pure Snoezelen has no purpose other than enjoyment
  • Today, Snoezelen is used increasingly for education, therapy, stimulation, calming, interaction, treatment
  • Sessions are best if client led in a safe, comfortable atmosphere with an air of enjoyment, motivation
  • Freedom from pressure to achieve
  • Client makes choices
  • Improved client/caregiver relationship
  • An approach designed to enhanced quality of life
SPD A person with a sensory processing disorder (SPD) finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing everyday tasks.
Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) work with parents/carers and others to assess if a child has speech and/or language difficulties, communication or eating and drinking difficulties.
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