Any time you enter a new field, from education to the workplace, you face an onslaught of acronyms and post-nominal initials—those strings of letters following peoples’ names on business cards and letterheads. What do they all mean? We hope this alphabetized list answers your questions. We will continually update it, as well, so if there’s an acronym you think belongs on this list, drop us an email: we’d love to hear from you.

ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavioral therapy
ABC – Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence
ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
ADOS – Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale
APD – Auditory Processing Disorder
APE – Adaptive Physical Education
AS – Asperger’s Syndrome
ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorder
ASHA – American Speech & Hearing Association
ASL – American Sign Language
ASPEN – Asperger Syndrome Parent Education Network
“ASPIE” – A person with Asperger’s Syndrome
BCBA – Board Certified Behavioral Analyst
BD – Behavioral Disorder
BD/ED – Behavior Disordered Emotionally Disturbed.
BMP – Behavior Management Plan
BSC – Behavioral Specialist Consultant
CARD – Center for Autism and Related Disabilities
CARS – Childhood Autism Rating Scale (diagnostic and evaluation tool)
CAT or CT Scan – Computer Axial Tomography – medical scan that compiles many xrays to create a cross-section image
CD – Conduct Disorder
CDC – Center for Disease Control and Prevention
CF – Casein Free
COTA – Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
CPT – Current Procedural Terminology (procedure codes used for insurance billing)
DAS – Developmental Apraxia of Speech
DAS – Differential Abilities Scales.
DD – Developmentally Delayed
DDD – Department of Developmental Disabilities
DHHS – Department of Health and Human Services
DOH – Department of Health
DPT – A triple vaccine: Diptheria, Pertussis (whooping cough), Tetanus
DPW – Department of Public Welfare
DR – Disability Rights
DSM – Diagnostic Statistical Manual
DSM-V – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition
DTT – Discrete Trial Training, one part of ABA therapy
DX – Diagnosis, diagnosed
ECG – ElectroCardioGram
ECSE – Early Childhood Special Education
ED – Emotionally Disturbed
EEG – ElectroEncephaloGram
EFD – Executive Functioning Disorder.
EI – Early Intervention
EKG – ElectroCardioGram (monitors electrical activity of the heart)
EMH – Educable Mentally Handicapped
EMS – Emergency Medical Services
ESY – Extended School Year (Summer School)
FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
FERPA – Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act
fMRI – Functional MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging showing brain activity during particular mental processes)
FOIA – Freedom Of Information Act
FRAX – Fragile X Syndrome
FSP – Family Support Plan
FSS – Family Support Services
GAF – Global Assessment of Functioning scale.
GED – General Education Development (a test to earn a certificate equivalent to a high school diploma)
GI – Gastrointestinal
HFA – High Functioning Autism, meaning a person is capable to varying degrees of self-care, language (not favored by some in the field)
HMO – Health Medical Organization
IBD – Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP – Individualized Education Plan, which refers to both the document and the meeting called to discuss the document
IFSP – Individualized Family Service Plan
LD – Learning Disability, Learning Disabled
LKS – Landau Kleffner Syndrome
LRE – Least Restrictive Environment
MDT – Multi-Disciplinary Team (“CSE” in some states)
MFC – Marriage and Family Counselor
MFCC – Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor
MR – Mental Retardation, Mentally Retarded (IQ less than 70)
MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MSDD – Multi-system developmental disorder
NIH – National Institute of Health
NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health
NINDS – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
NOD – Not Otherwise Defined, often appears with a diagnosis by psychologists
NOREP – Notice of Recommended Educational Placement
NOS – Not Otherwise Specified, often paired with PDD (PDD-NOS)
NT – “Neurotypical” or neurologically typical person
NVLD – Non-Verbal Learning Disability
OCB – Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior
OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD – Office of Child Development
OCD – Oppositional Conduct Disorder
OCR – Office of Civil Rights
OCYF – Office of Children, Youth and Families
ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OSEP – Office of Special Education Programs
OSERS – Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
OSP – Office of Social Programs
OT – Occupational Therapist or therapy, specializing in helping people learn to take care of themselves and accomplish daily activities, learn handwriting and motor skills. Some have training in sensory integration issues
PDD – Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PDDNOS – Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified
PDR – Physician’s Desk Reference
PECS – Picture Exchange Communication System
PEN – Parent Education Network
PET – Positron Emission Tomography Scan
POA – Power of Attorney
PPO – Preferred Provider Option
PRT – Pivotal Response Training
PT – Physical Therapist or Therapy
Q&A – Question-and-Answer, generally referring to a document format.
SD – School District
SELPA – Special Education Local Plan Area (used in CA)
SERRC – Special Educational Regional Recourse Center
SI – Sensory Integration.
SID – Sensory Integration Dysfunction
SIB – Self-injurious behavior
SIPT – Sensory Integration and Praxis Text
SLP – Speech and Language Pathologist, who diagnoses a person’s speech issues and acts as a therapist
SM – Selective Mutism
SNT – Special Needs Trust
SSA – Social Security Administration
SSD – Social Security Disability
SSDI – Social Security Disability Income
SSI – Supplemental Security Income
SSRI – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (a class of medicines that includes Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil)
TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury
TEACCH – Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Disorders
TOPL – Test of Pragmatic Language
TS – Tourette’s Syndrome
VAERS – Vaccine Adverse Experience Reporting System
VB – Verbal Behavior
VE – Varying Exceptionalities
Voc-Ed – Vocational Education
VQ – Verbal IQ
VR – Vocational Rehabilitation
WAIS – Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IQ test)
WISC – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (IQ test)
WPPSI – Weschler Preschool Primary