Glossary of Terms

Accommodations: Changes made to the learning environment curriculum in order to better serve children with special needs or learning differences. Accommodations can include but are not limited to test presentation, extended time, different testing locations and variation in the way material is presented and/or taught to students.

ADD: This refers to “Attention Deficit Disorder,” an older term for ADHD which some people still use, especially in reference to the presentation of ADHD that has less hyperactivity and is more characterized by inattention. This term has been replaced with the term “ADHD” to include all presentations of this disorder.

ADHD: This refers to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, the official name given this condition by the American Psychiatric Association. It is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a persistent condition that impairs functioning or development, and characterized by chronic inattention, hyperactivity, and often impulsivity.

ADHD Coach: A professional who is trained in both the field of coaching and ADHD who works primarily with adults and older teens to get past obstacles and reach their goals. Coaches often help those with ADHD with organizational and executive functioning challenges.

ADHD-Combined Type (ADHD-C): A subtype of ADHD characterized by both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms of ADHD.

ADHD-Not Otherwise Specified (ADHD-NOS): A subtype of ADHD diagnosed when the inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms are present but the individual does not meet the full criteria for the other subtypes of ADHD.

ADHD-Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive (ADHD PH-I): A subtype of ADHD characterized by impulsivity and hyperactivity, but lacking the symptoms of inattention.

ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive (ADHD-PI): A subtype of ADHD characterized by inattentive symptoms, but lacking hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms.

Anxiety: Uneasiness of the mind, typically shown by apprehension, worry and fear about everyday situations. Anxiety can co-exist with ADHD.

Attentional Bias: Preferring to pay attention to certain objects, thoughts and activities that one finds interesting.

Behavior Modification (or Behavior Therapy): A type of treatment provided by a trained mental health professional that teaches clients how to identify the interconnection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and learn new skills that replace negative behaviors with positive ones.

Behavioral Contract: A simple positive-reinforcement contract between student and teacher, or between parent and child, that is designed to change behavior. The contract explains the desired behavior that will be increased and the reinforcement that will be earned. In addition, inappropriate behavior is often listed, including the consequences for the behavior.

Child Behavior Checklist: A behavioral rating scale used by parents and teachers to evaluate emotional and behavioral problems in children.

CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A non-profit organization committed to helping people with ADHD, their families and the professionals who work with them.

Classroom Behavior Management: Strategies and techniques used by teachers to manage the behavior of students in the classroom and reduce classroom disruption.

Clinical Trial: Also called a research study, a clinical trial is designed to test an intervention, treatment or new approach. Clinical trials may compare a new treatment to a treatment that is already available.

Co-Existing Conditions: When two or more mental health conditions are present in the same individual, they are said to be co-existing (also called co-occurring or co-morbid). For example, ADHD can co-exist with depression or anxiety.

Cognitive Restructuring: Changing self-defeating thought patterns brought about by earlier life experiences.

Comorbidity: Two or more disorders occurring in an individual at the same time.

Comprehensive Assessment: An evaluation process that takes into consideration any factors that contribute to an individual’s current problems or functioning difficulties. These can include behaviors, education or employment skills, family history and relationships, emotional well-being, social skills, traumatic events and co-existing mental health conditions. Strengths and abilities are also assessed. The process forms the basis for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Conduct Disorder: A group of behavioral and emotional problems in children and adolescents that can be exhibited as aggressive behavior towards people and animals, destruction of property, lying, stealing, deceitfulness, and serious rule violations.

Daily Behavior Report Card (DBRC): A daily method of communication between teachers and parents in which the behaviors of the child throughout the day are reported. The card can be adapted to develop behavior goals, monitor the child’s progress, or determine if behavior interventions are working to improve the child’s behavior.

DSM-V Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: This manual, written by the American Psychiatric Association, describes how mental health disorders are classified, including the symptoms used for diagnosis. It is used by various health care professionals and insurance companies across a wide range of settings to classify mental disorders for diagnosis and insurance purposes.

Distractibility: The inability to sustain attention on the task at hand so that it disrupts a person’s concentration.

Dyslexia: A specific learning disability that impairs a person’s ability to read. It is characterized by spelling challenges, word retrieval while speaking and a lack of fluency, causing reading to be slower and require much effort.

Executive Function: Mental skills that allow us to control and coordinate other mental functions and abilities, such as planning or task completion. This deficit is common in those with ADHD.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): FAPE is a provision under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). All children and students are given the right to have a free appropriate public education. The appropriate education service must be designed to meet the individual education needs of students with disabilities to the same extent that the needs of nondisabled students are met.

Functional Impairment Difficulties: These are life challenges which interfere with a personʼs ability to function in major life activities, including social situations, school, employment and in the community.

Hyperactivity: Having increased movement, impulsive actions, and a shorter attention span. A hyperactive person has constant activity and is easily distracted and impulsive. Other characteristics of hyperactive behavior also include inability to concentrate and aggressiveness.

Hyperfocus: A deep and intense mental concentration fixated on an activity, specific event or topic.

Impulsivity: Acting with little or no thought of the consequences, or reacting rapidly without considering the negative consequences of the reaction.

Inattention: Failure to pay attention to a specified object or task.

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE): An assessment conducted by a qualified examiner not employed by a school district to determine if a student may be eligible for special education. An IEE is conducted if parents disagree with a school district’s assessment of their child’s eligibility for special education.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP): A written document that describes the educational goals at school, and the methods of achieving these goals, for eligible children with disabilities under IDEA. This plan is based on the child’s current level of performance.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): The current special education law in the United States which requires all states to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to children and students who have disabilities.

Intervention: A structured process (or action) that has the effect of modifying an individual’s behavior, cognition, or emotional state.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): A requirement in federal law stating that students with disabilities should be educated in the same environment and alongside their typically developing peers, as well as have access to the same educational and social activities. Pullout and separation programs are determined by need on an individual basis.

Limited English Proficient (LEP): The term used by the federal government, most states, and local school districts to identify students whose difficulty in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language will make it difficult to succeed in English-only classrooms.

Medication Holiday: A planned period of time, for medical or evaluation purposes, when prescribed medication therapy is temporarily discontinued. This should be undertaken only with the guidance of the prescribing medical practitioner.

Mental Health Therapist: A master’s or doctoral level, licensed professional who is trained in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Most mental health therapists practice in areas of specialty, which can include ADHD and related disorders. They are trained in a broad range of therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral, psychodynamic, marital, family, parent-child interaction, coaching, to name a few. They can include psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

Modification: Adjustments made to an assignment, test, or the general curriculum to meet the needs of a student when the expectations of the curriculum are beyond the student’s ability. Modifications are written into the student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan.

Multimodal Treatment: ADHD in children often requires a comprehensive approach to treatment. This “multimodal” approach includes multiple interventions working together, tailored to the unique needs of the child, including parent training, medication and behavioral therapy.

Negative Self-Talk: Negative inner dialogue that brings out emotions such as guilt, fear, pessimism, anger, frustration, anxiety and depression. These thoughts often damage self-esteem, and can appear in times of increased stress or emotional turmoil.

Neurobehavioral: Related to the relationship between the brain and behavior.

Neurologist: A health care professional trained to diagnose and manage brain disorders.

Neuropsychologist: A psychologist trained in how the brain and the rest of the nervous system affect a person’s behavior and cognition. They are able to administer neuropsychological testing which aims to identify any challenges to full brain functioning, including identifying learning disabilities or the impact of illnesses or injuries to the brain.

Neurotransmitter: A chemical in the brain that functions as a messenger to transmit nerve impulses between nerve cells (neurons) within the nervous system.

Non-stimulant Medication: A medication that has been approved to treat ADHD—generally considered second-line medication—prescribed to those who have an incomplete response or no response to stimulants, cannot tolerate stimulants, or have certain co-existing psychiatric conditions.

Occupational Therapist: A licensed health care professional who provides therapy centered on sensory integration to address the physical, behavioral, and emotional effects of ADHD, and identifies goals to help the child succeed at school and at home.

Peer Rejection: When someone is purposely excluded from a social relationship or social interaction by peers.

Planned Ignoring: A behavioral intervention strategy in which one provides no attention to negative and maladaptive behavior to reduce inappropriate behaviors.

Positive Behavioral Support (PBS): Rooted in research, PBS provides a systemic approach to decreasing problem behaviors and increasing socially acceptable behaviors in the individual and in the system, such as a school.

Prefrontal Cortex: The front part of the frontal lobe in the brain that plays a role in controlling attention, behavior, judgment, and emotion.

Progress Monitoring: A practice to assess a student’s academic performance, record performance data, and evaluate how well the student is responding to instruction as well as the effectiveness of the instruction.

Prosocial Behavior: Positive actions to help others, motivated by a sense of empathy and caring, rather than for personal gain.

Psychologist: A licensed mental health professional trained in the study of behavior, emotions and functioning. Psychologists are trained in psychological therapy, consultation and testing.

Psychoeducational Testing: An assessment process that includes tests, observations, and history taking to identify a student’s cognitive strengths and challenges, in order to develop a plan for the student’s success in the classroom.

Rebound Effect: The tendency in some medications (including some ADHD medications), when withdrawn from use, to lead to symptoms of greater severity than were present before the medication was initiated.

Response to Intervention (RTI): A multilevel prevention system used by schools to maximize student achievement and reduce behavior problems. RTI is used to identify students at risk for learning failures, monitor student progress, provide evidence-based interventions, and adjust the interventions based on students’ responsiveness.

Section 504: A civil rights statute (part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) that ensures children with disabilities are given equal opportunity, when compared to non-disabled children the same age, to participate in all academic and nonacademic services the school has to offer.

Self-Regulation: Managing (regulating) one’s own behavior with appropriate behavior and actions in order to attain one’s goals.

Sensory Integration Disorder (SID): Also known as Sensory Processing Disorder, SID is a condition in which the brain and nervous system are unable to correctly receive, organize and process information coming in from the senses, causing learning and behavioral problems.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD/LD): A disorder in the basic learning processes involved in understanding and using spoken or written language, that significantly interferes with a person’s ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematics.

Speech or Language Impairment: A communication disorder including difficulties with articulation, stuttering, or a language impairment that adversely affects a person’s educational performance.

Stimulant Medication: Medication that “stimulate” (increase) certain activity in the body’s central nervous system, including the production and activity of neurotransmitters. Most medications approved for the treatment of ADHD are stimulant medications. When taken as prescribed, they generally help improve the symptoms of ADHD by promoting alertness, awareness, and the ability to focus.

Target Behavior: A specific behavior that has been chosen or “targeted” either to increase in frequency (if it is a positive behavior) or decrease in frequency (if it is a negative behavior).

Token Economy System: A behavior modification system in which a student earns tokens for exhibiting the desired behavior. The tokens are exchanged at a later time for a reinforcer which is typically selected by the student.

Working Memory: A system in the brain that temporarily stores and processes the information needed for much more complex tasks such as reasoning, comprehension, and learning.

Recent Webinars

Other Resources

Subscribe to our mailing list