In the world of special Education, we live on a steady diet of jargon and acronyms. So this will serve as a lexicon of sorts that will guide you through the sometimes confusing world in which I live.
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1992, 1997, 2004). The original law was called PL 94-142, or the Education for All Handicapped Students Act (1973, 1976, 1982, 1987). These laws guaranteed a free and appropriate education for all individuals with disabilities. It is supposed to be renewed every 5 years, but you’ll notice a big gap between 1997 and 2004, mostly because of a certain war in Iraq.
NCLB – No Child Left Behind Act. This law was the first law G.W. Bush signed after taking office in 2001. It was a bipartisan bill originally drafted by none other than Ted Kennedy in 1998. The new version made sweeping changes and enforced them by tying federal funding to the requirements. I’ll get to NCLB more later.
IEP – Individual Education Plan. This is the document that determines how a child with disabilities is to be educated, according to IDEA. It is, in essence, a mini piece of legislation drawn up by parents teachers and the school system for each child. The law requires that this be reviewed every year. As a teacher and as a parent, it is an extremely important document. It also causes a lot of stress.
IFSP – Individual Family Service Plan. Part H of IDEA provides services to disabled individuals from birth to age 3, when school systems take over. The IFSP is essentially the IEP for children under the age of 3. These services do vary a lot by state, but all states offer them.
LRE – Least Restrictive Environment. According to IDEA, a child must be educated in the least restrictive environment in order to meet the child’s IEP goals. There is a continuum of LRE, the least which is a regular education classroom and the most restrictive being a specialized facility.
LEA – Local Education Agent. There must be a LEA present at each IEP meeting in order to represent the school system’s interest. This person should have enough knowledge of the system’s resources as well as the law in order to speak for the district. In addition to my own IEP meetings and those of my own children, I attend several as an LEA.
EBD – Emotional and Behavior Disorders. This is one area of disability I’ve dealt with. EBD students may also have intellectual impairments, but mainly they have behaviors which interfere with their and other’s ability to learn. Pragmatically speaking, students with EBD end up being served with this label because their parents are not savvy enough to advocate for an LD or OHI label.
LD – Learning Disabled. Sometimes it will be SLD or specific learning disability. An LD student usually has one or more performance discrepancies in math, reading or written expression.
OHI – Other Health Impaired. The largest group of OHI students are those with some form of attention deficit disorder (ADD) such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But OHI can also be used as a catch-all for students who have a mixture of problems that don’t necessarily fit other categories of impairment such as severe asthma, epilepsy or chronic illness.
OI – Othopedic Impairment. These are students who may be in wheelchairs but whose intelligence otherwise falls in the normal range. Cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy may cause OI. Stephen Hawking is an example of someone who would be served within the OI model today.
TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury. When Coach joined our staff, he was assigned to assist a TBI student. The student had been in a car wreck and could not eat, toilet,talk or walk without assistance. Yet he still had most of his marbles. A lot of these students are served by OI teachers. To my knowledge, we have no OI teachers in Magnolia county.
MID – Mildly Intellectually Impaired. We used to say “Mildly Retarded” before middle school students and the media co-opted the word “retarded.” I.Q. is generally 55-70. EBD, LD and MID students make up the largest segment of the special education population in most schools. Students may have several labels, such as MID/EBD or LD/OHI or MID/Speech.
MoID – Moderately Intellectually Impaired. These are the Wal-Mart greeter types you see, many with Down Syndrome. They are usually verbal, can read a few words and know some numbers and colors. I.Q. is 40-55. These are generally the most loving and kind people in any school. If you are a teacher and are feeling depressed, walk into a class full of MoID kids. They’ll hug you and love you and admire you no matter who you are.
SID – Severe Intellectually Disabled. These kids may or may not be able to walk and talk. They’ll be lucky to recognize their own names, let alone write it. These are some of my kids. Since many are nonverbal, they communicate with behaviors, many times aggressively. Toileting and eating independently are iffy for this group. Some can but many can’t. Other kids can play games while these folks have few independent leisure skills.
PID – Profoundly Intellectually Disabled. Most of these are not walking. None are talking. They need assistance with everything, sometimes even to eat and breathe. I.Q. is below 25. There are often a lot of medical issues with this and the SID population. I’ve had to do tube feedings and catheterizations with this group. Other teachers are doing trach suctioning, oxygen management, colostomy care and other healthcare procedures. Out of my 8 students, only 3 can use the toilet independently. Everyone else is wearing a diaper or pull up. Only 2 can speak and be understood without an assistive device.
GPS – Georgia Performance Standards. This is the curriculum that all students in the state of Georgia will be using next year. My students are on a functional curriculum but some lunatic decided it would be good if severe and profound students also were aligned with GPS standards. Grade level standards. Meaning my 9th grade severe kids have to be aligned with language arts, science, math and social studies on the 9th grade level. Right.
GAA – Georgia Alternate Assessment. This is the assessment process students with severe disabiloities use instead of the syandardized tests regular kids use in order to comply with provisions of NCLB. It is basically a portfolio of stuff that is supposed to show that the student is engaged with grade-level tasks and materials.
O.T. – Occupational Therapy. Assists with fine motor skills
P.T. – Physical Therapy. Assists with gross motor skills.
SLP – Speech Language Pathologist. Assists with speech, language and communication issues. Often SLPs also assist with feeding and swallowing issues. We currently have a severe shortage of SLPs, OTs and PTs in Magnolia County if any of you are interested!
VI – Visually Impaired. This can refer to a student with that disability or the therapist that serves them. I’ll let you know which I refer to, but I currently have no VI students so I’m not even sure who our VI person is in the county anymore!
CBI-Community Based Instruction. This is where we go into the community and to job sites. We practice shopping, purchasing and generally just behaving right when being out around regular people.
APE – Adaptive P.E. A sort of extension of PT, where students participate in various sports skills. They might not play base ball, but they practice hitting, throwing, catching and base running.
FAPE – Free and Appropriate Public Education. Under IDEA, all students are entitled to FAPE until they turn 21.
IEE – Independent Educational Evaluation. Under IDEA ’97 and 2004, parents are entitled to free independent educational evaluations. The school can refuse to pay for it, but in order to do so they would have to file for due process in order to defend their own evaluation.
I’ll probably add more as needed. Hopefully this is helpful.