Special Education Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations

Special Education Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations

The ABCs of IEPs – special education acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations. It can all be a bit confusing. In the world of special education there are a lot of acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations that are important to know, if for no other reason than to keep up with the conversation. You don’t want to miss the substance of what is said at an IEP meeting because your brain is busy trying to decipher the meaning of the letters being tossed about like they are common sight words. It is helpful to become familiar with the lingo.

For those of you who appreciate the nuances of language, I’ll quickly share that according to the strictest definition, only abbreviations that are pronounced as words qualify as acronyms. For example, IDEA is an acronym. Abbreviations that shorten a phrase by using the first letter of each word are initialisms. IEP is an initialism. Sometimes initialisms are also acronyms; such as FAPE. The list below is not completely exhaustive, but they are the abbreviations parents are most likely to come across.

  • ABA: Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • ABC: Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence
  • ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act
  • ADHD: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • ADLs: Activities of Daily Living
  • ALJ: Administrative Law Judge
  • APE: Adaptive Physical Education
  • ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • ASL: American Sign Language
  • AT: Assistive Technology
  • AYP: Adequate Yearly Progress
  • BIP: Behavioral Intervention Plan
  • BOE: Board of Education
  • CAPD: Central Auditory Processing Disorder
  • CST: Child Study Team
  • DB: Deaf/Blindness
  • DD: Developmental Disability
  • DOE: Department of Education
  • DSM: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association
  • ED: Emotionally Disturbed
  • EI: Early Intervention
  • ESY: Extended School Year
  • FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education
  • FBA: Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • FOIA: Freedom of Information Act
  • HI: Hearing Impaired
  • HoH: Hard of Hearing
  • I&RS: Intervention and Referral Services
  • IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • IEE: Independent Educational Evaluation
  • IEP: Individualized Education Program
  • IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan
  • LD: Learning Disability
  • LEA: Local Education Agency
  • LRE: Least Restrictive Environment
  • MD: Multiply Disabled
  • MDR: Manifestation Determination Review
  • OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • OCR: Office for Civil Rights
  • ODD: Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • OHI: Other Health Impairment
  • OI: Orthopedically Impaired
  • OSEP: Office of Special Education Programs
  • OAL: Office of Administrative Law
  • OT: Occupational Therapy
  • PLAAFP: Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
  • PLoP: Present Level of Performance (replaced by PLAAFP)
  • PT: Physical Therapy
  • RTI: Response to Intervention
  • SEA: State Education Agency
  • SEPAC: Special Education Parent Advisory Committee
  • SLD: Specific Learning Disability
  • SLP: Speech/Language Pathologist
  • TBI: Traumatic Brain Injury