About the Author

About the Author

The Understood Team 

is made up of passionate writers, editors, and community moderators, many of whom have children who learn and think differently.


A brain-based disorder that can affect language learning, speaking, listening, comprehension, reading and/or writing.

special education:

Specially designed instruction, provided at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It can include specialized activities in gym, music and arts education and specialized instruction in the classroom, home or other settings.

autism spectrum disorder:

A brain-based developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulty with social interactions and communication. Often referred to as autism or ASD, it includes symptoms such as poor eye contact, repetitive body movements, and difficulty adapting to social situations and responding to sensory input such as certain tastes or textures.

speech-language pathologist:

An expert who can help those who have language disorders to understand and give directions, ask and answer questions, convey ideas, and improve the language skills that lead to better academic performance. Often referred to as SLP.

early intervention:

Services for infants and toddlers provided under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Services include multidisciplinary evaluation of children and identification of the needs of each family as set out in an Individualized Family Service Plan.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:

The federal law that guarantees all children with disabilities access to a free and appropriate public education. Often referred to as IDEA.

private school:

An independent school that charges tuition and that is not part of the public school system. There are different types of private schools, including traditional independent schools, Montessori schools, religious or parochial schools, country day schools and military schools that may or may not offer much support for students with learning and attention issues. There are also independent special education schools that are specifically designed for students with various disabilities. Some independent special education schools specialize in teaching kids with learning and attention issues.

primary language:

Usually the language learned at birth or in early childhood; it is the language that the person best understands.

native language:

The first language a person acquires in life, or the language a person identifies with as a member of an ethnic group.


A specific learning disability in reading. Kids with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling and writing.


Short for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. A condition characterized by symptoms that include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. But not all of these need to be present for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD.

speech therapy:

Sometimes referred to as speech/language therapy or SLT. This type of therapy is designed to help kids speak more clearly, express their thoughts and ideas and understand what other people are saying.


Short for Individualized Education Program. A plan that details the support and services (such as speech therapy or multisensory reading instruction) a school will provide to meet the individual needs of a student with a disability who qualifies for special education.


A tool or procedure that provides equal access to instruction and assessment for students with disabilities.