Glossary

New words are fun! Right? Well, If you're here and you find yourself new to the world of Autism, Therapy Services, Special Needs, Developmental Disabilities, Learning Differences, Caregiving, and HIPPAA policies then you'll become familiar with a lot of FUN new words. People in Arizona generally speak English or Spanish, so sometimes regional colloquialisms may trump our local ideas, so keep that in mind as you read along. Here are some words we use in our daily lives as people with Autism, Parents, Providers, Caregivers and kiddos.

Echolalia

ech·o·la·li·a

/ˌekōˈlālēə/

This is the repeating of sounds, words, or phrases. People who “echo” may not always be able to communicate effectively or express their own thoughts, but they parrot back what they have heard. If asked a question, they might repeat the question, and not answer the question.

Scripting

The repetition of words, phrases, intonation, or sounds of the speech of others, sometimes taken from movies, but also sometimes taken from other sources such as favorite books or something someone else has said. Echolalia is sometimes referred to as scripting.

Perseveration

Repeating or persisting with an action or behavior after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased. To perseverate is to become stuck on something and to not be able to mentally shift gears.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Applying the principles used for learning and motivation toward social situations or problems of social significance. Therapists use ABA Therapy to teach communication, play, social, academic, and self-care skills to those with autism.

504 Plan

A plan that ensures a student with any disability, physical or mental, will receive accommodations that will help him or her to achieve academic success.

Individualized Education Program (I.E.P.)

A plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability will receive specialized instruction and related services so he or she may be educated effectively.

Transition

A change from one environment or activity to another. Transitions can be hard for a person with autism. It sometimes helps if warnings are given before a transition.

Meltdown

Often mistaken as temper tantrums, meltdowns are common with people who have autism and are typically not anger-infused. Instead, it is the body’s way of reacting to a confusing or over-stimulating situation. Meltdowns can be loud or they can be very quiet.

Stimulatory Behavior (Stimming)

Repetitive behavior, such as the spinning of objects, vocal echoes, or other repetitive actions, that people with autism commonly partake in to alleviate the stressors of overstimulation.

Visual Schedule

A visual schedule tells a person what to expect next and in what order. People with autism often benefit by knowing what is next as it may be harder for them to transition from one activity to another.

Elopement

To leave without permission or without letting others know where you are going, and without processing the dangers/risks involved in leaving. Elopement is a great concern in the autism community.

Savant

To have detailed knowledge in a specialized field. A small percentage of people with autism are savants. Savants may have many different skills not specific to one field.

Splinter Skill

A skill that is stronger than other skills a person has. A person with autism might be able to do one or more things really well but have far less ability in other areas.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

A neurological condition that exists when sensory signals are not adequately processed in order to appropriately respond to the demands of the environment. For example, many people with sensory processing disorder are highly sensitive to fabrics and certain food textures.

Vestibular System

Our vestibular system (or sensory system) gives us a awareness of balance and spatial orientation so we can coordinate our movements. People with autism have a harder time managing their movements, such as their walk and gait.

Comorbidity

The simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient. Many things are often comorbid with autism, including epilepsy and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Joint Attention

A social-communicative skill that’s developed early and includes pointing, sharing interests and following the eye gaze of others. Most children like to say, “Watch me” to others as they play. They point things out in their environment so they are sure others are seeing what they see. Children with autism often participate in little or no joint attention.

Prosody

The rhythm and melody of spoken language. Prosody is shown in the rate, pitch, stress, inflection, and intonation used in our speech. People with autism have a harder time with intonation, and can often be more monotone or speak in a singing voice.

Discrete Trial

A structured way of teaching in simple steps. A task is broken down and taught in steps and then built back up to the entire task. Discrete trial is used in ABA therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression. People with autism struggle with anxiety and depression alike. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help reduce these feelings and behaviors associated with them by working to adjust thoughts and perceptions.

With this new knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to help the people in your life who have autism, or a relative with autism. As you may well know from helping a child with autism navigate the world, knowing the words for something you’re experiencing can make a huge difference.

Content, businesses, professionals, information, and outbound links on this page are NOT an endorsement from Arizona Autism, these items are identified here among others as an evolving list of available resources that we believe our members and their families will return to reference frequently. The links on our pages update constantly both internally and externally, so if something doesn't appear to be working or if you find faults in our content, please let us know. If you believe you have a link that you think should be on this page, please let us know by filling out the form on the Contact Us page.

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