A Parent's Dictionary: Early Intervention Terms A-Z


Adaptive: self-help skills the child uses for daily living (such as feeding, toileting, dressing).

Advocacy: the act of supporting or defending a child's interests and rights.

Assessment: means the initial and ongoing procedure used to identify: the child's unique needs and strengths; the family's resources, priorities and concerns relative to that child's development; and the nature and extent of early intervention services that are needed by the child and the child's family to address the needs identified in the evaluation process.

Assistive Technology Devices and Services: equipment and services that are used to improve or maintain the abilities of a child to participate in such activities as playing, communicating, eating, or moving.

At Risk: a term used for children who may, in the future, have problems with their development that may affect learning or development.

Audiology: identification of children with hearing impairments and providing services for hearing loss and prevention of hearing loss.

Cognitive: a term that describes the process used for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and making decisions.

Confidentiality: the right that personal information about a child and family is not released without parent consent or only when permitted or required by law.

Consent: the approval a parent gives to a program or the county, generally in writing. Consent is always voluntary and a parent may revoke it at any time.

Counseling: advice or help given by someone qualified to give such advice or help (such as a psychologist or social worker).

Developmental: having to do with the steps or stages in the growth of a child.

Developmental Delay: an indication that a child has not attained the expected level of development based on the child's age.

Developmental History: the developmental progress of a child in such skills as sitting, walking, or talking.

Developmental Tests: tests that measure a child's development compared to the development of other children at that age.

Disability: a developmental delay or a physical or mental condition which is very likely to result in a child having a developmental delay.

Due Process: procedures designed to protect a person's rights. This includes requirements for confidentiality, consent, and processes to resolve disagreements and file complaints.

Dominant Language: the language or other mode of communication that the family normally uses.

Early Intervention Services: services provided by qualified personnel and meet the needs of the child and family as described in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). These services are provided with parent consent and to the maximum extent possible in the natural environment.

Eligibility Requirements: the requirements a child must meet to be able to receive early intervention services. This will include the age of the child and whether or not the child has a disability or developmental delay.

Evaluation: a process used to determine if a child meets the eligibility standards for early intervention.
Family Assessment: a process used to identify and gather information related to the family concerns, priorities and resources.

Family Concerns: means those areas that the parent identifies as needs, issues, or problems which they wish to have addressed within the Individualized Family Service Plan.

Family Priorities: means those areas which the parent selects as essential targets for early intervention services to be delivered to their child and family unit.

Family Resources: means the strengths, abilities, and formal and informal supports that can be mobilized to address family concerns, needs or desired outcomes.

Family Training: services provided by qualified personnel to assist the family in understanding the special needs of the child and in promoting the child's development.

Health Services: health-related services necessary to enable a child to benefit from other early intervention services

Home Visits: visits in your home by a professional for the purpose of planning and providing early intervention services.

Impartial Hearing: a formal process at which a family's complaints can be heard by a hearing officer who will resolve the dispute or complaint regarding the child's evaluation, IFSP or certain other issues.

IEP: Individualized Education Plan

IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan. A written plan for the child's and family's services in the Early Intervention Program that the family develops with a team of qualified personnel.

Interim IFSP: when the child and/or family are in apparent immediate need of early intervention services, a temporary IFSP can be developed to allow the child and family to receive early intervention services after the child has been referred to the program and before an evaluation is completed.

Lead Agency: the state agency that the Governor has chosen to oversee and coordinate early intervention services.

Mediation: a method for solving a disagreement that uses persons trained in helping people resolve their own problems.

Multidisciplinary: the involvement of two or more professionals from different areas of training in providing early intervention services; including evaluation, assessment, and the development of the IFSP.

Natural Environment: settings that are natural or normal for young children without disabilities. This may include the home, a child care setting, or other community settings in which children participate.

Nursing Services: assessment of health status of the child for the purpose of providing nursing care, and provision of nursing care to prevent health problems, restore and improve functioning, and promote optimal health and development. This may include administering medications, treatments, and other procedures prescribed by a licensed physician.

Nutritional Services: services that help address the nutritional needs of children which include identifying feeding skills, feeding problems, food habits and food preferences.

Occupational Therapy: services that relate to self-help skills, adaptive behavior and play, and sensory, motor, and postural development.

Outcomes: statements of changes that parents want to see in their child or family. These statements are part of the IFSP.

Parent: a parent or person in parental relationship to a child or an appointed surrogate parent.

Pendency: the right that the parent and child have that allows the child and family to continue to receive early intervention services contained in an existing IFSP while the disagreement is being resolved or when a child and family have moved to another county.

Personally Identifiable Information: includes family names, social security numbers, addresses, and other information that could be used to identify the family.

Physical Therapy: services to prevent or lessen movement difficulties and related functional problems.

Placement: the place where services will be provided to the child, which if possible should be in a natural setting such as the home or day care.

Psychological Services: administering and interpreting psychological tests and information about a child's behavior and child and family conditions related to learning, mental health and development as well as planning services including counseling, consultation, parent training, and education programs.

Qualified Personnel: those individuals who are approved to provide early intervention services within the limits of their licensure, certification, or registration.

Respite: temporary child care that may be available to families of children with disabilities. This may include care provided in the home or at another place.

Screening: a process used to assess the child's developmental status to indicate what type of evaluation, if any, is warranted.

Service Coordinator: someone who works in partnership with the family by providing assistance and services that help the family to coordinate and obtain their rights under the Early Intervention Program and services agreed upon on the IFSP.

Social Work Services: preparing an assessment of the social and emotional strengths and needs of a child and family, and providing individual or group services such as counseling or family training.

Special Instruction: includes designing of learning environments and activities that promote the child's development, providing families with information, skills and support to enhance the child's development.

Special Needs: (as in a child with "special needs") a term used to describe a child who has a disability or developmental delay, and requires special services or treatment.

Speech-Language Pathology: services for children with delays in communication skills or with motor skills such as weakness of muscles around the mouth or swallowing.

Surrogate Parent: a person who is appointed to act in place of the parent when parents are not available to participate in making decisions about their child's involvement in the Early Intervention Program. A parent may voluntarily designate a surrogate parent.

Transition: the process where the children at age 3 will move from the Early Intervention Program to the Preschool Special Education Program or other early childhood supports or services.

Transportation: providing or reimbursing the cost of travel necessary to enable a child and family to receive early intervention services.

Vision Services: identification of children with visual disorders or delays and providing services and training to those children.


Adapted from the State of New York's Parent Dictionary