Glossary of Terms



Frequent, intense and persistent worries about everyday life, events, social interactions and activities that can cause significant distress and interfere with daily functioning.

Articulation Disorders

Refer to errors in speech sounds by mispronouncing, substituting, or leaving out the sound.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A chronic condition that includes some combination of  inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that persists across multiple environments.

Augmentative Communication

All forms of communication and expression used to help individuals express their thoughts effectively. Augmentative communication may incorporate the use of pictures, gestures, voice-output devices, or computers.

Assistive Technology

Any device or software that makes it easier to complete specific daily tasks. Examples of assistive technology include, dictation apps that allow speech to be converted to text or software that reads text aloud.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD, often referred to as Autism, is a neuro-developmental disorder that impacts communication and social interactions.  Autism, to varying degrees, impacts social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and sensory integration.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an evidence-based treatment that examines the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT is typically considered a short-term treatment (ie. 6–20 sessions), and teaches strategies to change the cycle between unhelpful or mistaken thoughts, negative behaviour, and problematic feelings. CBT strategies are commonly used to treat anxiety and mood disorders, and are useful for any person wanting to change the way they think about and live life.

Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS)

CPS helps parents identify the lagging skills and needs that underlie a child’s negative behaviour. CPS teaches parents how to strengthen connection and improve relationships with their children, and to understand that when children or adolescents are struggling, it is because some demand of their environment is beyond their ability to cope.


A pervasive feeling of sadness, loss of interest and withdrawal from daily activities and social interactions. Can be accompanied by changes in appetite, sleep, energy level, feelings of worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts.

Developmental Disability (DD)

An umbrella term for a  diverse group of disabilities characterized by limitations of general cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviour. DDs range in severity and can cause varying levels of impact on language, mobility, learning, self-help and independent living skills. Developmental disabilities emerge prior to 18 years of age and persist throughout the individual’s life.


A learning disability that impacts the acquisition and development of literacy skills (e.g., reading, comprehension, spelling).


Executive Function Skills

Executive functions are the capacities that enable a person to organize, initiate and follow through with tasks, plan ahead, prioritize, self monitor and regulate emotions. Executive functioning skills develop over time. They begin to develop in small children and continue to improve throughout childhood and adolescents. This skill set is not fully developed until our early adulthood. While some children develop this skill set more easily than others, executive functions can be trained with practice.


Expressive Language

Expressive language is the ability to communicate with others using language (through words, signs, actions, pictures, writing).


Above average ability in one or more areas including an academic field, visual arts or music.


Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC)

Some students have special needs that may require support beyond those ordinarily received through regular instructional and assessment practices. Students who have behavioural, communication, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities, may require special education programs and/or services to benefit fully from their school experience. These primarily consist of kinds of instruction and assessments that are different from those provided to the general student population. They take the form of accommodations (such as specific teaching strategies, preferential seating, and assistive technology) and/or modifications from the age-appropriate grade level expectations in a particular course or subject. Such students may be formally identified by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee as “exceptional pupils”. Regulation 181/98 provides information about the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), and sets out the procedures involved in identifying a pupil as “exceptional”, deciding the pupil’s placement, or appealing such decisions when the parent does not agree with the IPRC. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) and students aged sixteen or older, have the right to attend the IPRC meeting and will receive an invitation. In making its decisions, the IPRC will consider a package of information prepared at the sending school by teachers who work with the student and any information contributed by anyone attending the meeting.


Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a written plan describing the special education program and/or services developed for a particular student. It outlines any accommodations and special education services needed to assist the student in achieving his or her learning expectations. It also identifies learning expectations that are modified from or alternative to the expectations given in the curriculum policy document for the grade level subject or course. The IEP provides a framework for communicating to parent(s)/guardian(s) and the student, information about the student’s progress on both the Progress Report Card and the Provincial Report Card. Regulation 181/98 governs Ministry of Education expectations for the development of IEPs for students.


In School Team (IST)

The IST provides initial support to the classroom teacher, through collaboration among staff within the school, to better understand the student’s needs and apply strategies consistently among staff who work with the student. Team members share expertise and ownership for meeting those needs. The IST is comprised of school-based staff including an administrator and special education teacher, often the Methods and Resource Teacher (MART) or resource teacher in elementary schools. At the secondary level, the IST may include the school-based special education Curriculum Leader (CL) or Assistant Curriculum Leader (ACL), who have responsibilities related to the management and delivery of differing levels of support to students with IEPs.


Learning Disabilities (LD)

A LD impacts the way a person takes in, understands, organizes, stores or uses information. LDs come in many forms and range in severity. They impact the acquisition of oral or written language, reading or mathematics. LDS are specific, not global impairments, and are distinct from Developmental Disabilities (DD).


Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose and non-judgmentally to whatever is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is a skill that we can learn and develop.

Motor Speech Disorders

Motor speech disorders are a class of speech disorders that disturb the body's natural ability to speak. These disturbances vary in their etiology based on the integrity and integration of cognitive, neuromuscular, and musculoskeletal activities.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

MI techniques are helpful to understand a person’s motivation for change, and their stage in the process of changing negative or unhelpful behaviour. Psychologists incorporate MI techniques to help people identify the obstacles on their path toward change, and to increase commitment and movement towards change.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Occupational therapy facilitates functional skills necessary for daily life. Occupational therapists support people of all ages in their area of occupation. For children and adolescents occupation refers to their daily tasks and activities such as: social activities and participation, play, school, self-care and social participation. 

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear sounds that make up words in spoken language. This includes recognizing words that rhyme, deciding whether words begin or end with the same sounds, understanding that sounds can be manipulated to create new words, and separating words into their individual sounds.

Pragmatic Disorders

Pragmatic disorders refer to difficulties with social language and the ability to communicate with others (ex. making eye contact, joint attention, taking turns, paying attention to the person who is with you, beginning interactions with others).

Receptive Language

Receptive language is the ability to understand language (through listening or reading).


School Support Team (SST)

When the IST has done all it can to understand and address the student’s needs, and determines that more support is required, the student should be referred to the SST. All students must be reviewed at an IST prior to a referral to an SST. Referral to the SST enables the concerns about the student to be discussed by a broader team of representatives from Special Education, Psychology, Social Work, Attendance Counselling, Speech Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, parent(s)/guardian(s), caregivers, students over 16 years of age, outside agencies and others as required. All SST participants bring complementary skills and knowledge to the team consultation, to meet the student’s special education needs.


Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech does not speak in specific situations or to specific people.



The ability to manage one’s emotions and impulses and maintain a calm and alert state.


Sensory Integration or Sensory Processing

Sensory Integration, also known as Sensory Processing refers to the way we take in, organize and use information that we gain from our senses. Our nervous systems receive information from the world around us and convert this information into appropriate motor and behavioural responses. How we process and respond to  this sensory information impacts how we move, learn, behave and interact with others.


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

SPD creates challenges in either detecting or organizing sensory information into appropriate responses.  Individuals with SPD have varying degrees of difficulty processing and acting upon information received through the senses resulting in challenges in performance of daily tasks.


Special Equipment Amount (SEA) Claims

The Special Equipment Amount (SEA) allocation is made up of two components: a SEA Per Pupil Amount and a SEA Claims-Based Amount. SEA funding is intended to assist with the costs of equipment essential to support students with special education needs. It is still expected that boards will develop an internal process that allocates the SEA Per Pupil Amount and the SEA Claims-Based Amount. The SEA Claims-Based Amount will continue to support the purchases of non-computer based equipment to be utilized by students with special education needs, including hearing support equipment, vision support equipment, personal care support equipment and physical assists support equipment. This component of the SEA allocation would continue to be claim-based with an $800 deductible.