If you meet with a learning specialist to talk about your child, you may hear terms like “modifications” and “accommodations.” If you’re not sure what these terms mean it can be hard to follow the discussion. This printable mini-glossary can make it easier.
Accommodation is a change in classroom techniques or materials. The goal of an accommodation is to help a student work around his issues. For example, a student who has trouble writing might be given typed notes. The student must still learn the same material.
Assistive technology is any tool that helps a student work around his issues. These could include a laptop, voice recognition software and electronic math worksheets.
Average range is a term therapists use when testing a child for learning issues. If a child falls below the “average range” for reading, for instance, it may mean he has a reading disability.
DSM-5 stands for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The DSM-5 (also called DSM-V) is the guide doctors and specialists use to diagnose learning disabilities.
Executive function refers to a group of mental skills that work together to help the brain organize and act on information. These include the ability to organize, prioritize and get started on tasks.
Fine motor skills refers to the ability to make movements using small muscles, such as those in the hands and wrists. They’re used for tasks like writing, drawing, coloring, tying shoelaces and using scissors.
Gross motor skills refers to the ability to make movements using the larger muscle groups, such as those in the arms and legs. Poor gross motor skills can affect balance, coordination and the ability to run, kick, jump and skip.
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is an intelligence test score. Most kids with learning and attention issues have an average or above-average IQ.
Modification refers to a change in what’s being taught to or what’s expected from the student. An example of a modification is having shorter assignments
Nonverbal learning disability (NVLD) affects a child’s ability to understand the nonverbal aspects of communication. A child with NVLD may have trouble interpreting tone of voice, body language and facial expressions.
Screening is often the first step in determining whether a child has a learning issue. It may include observation, interviews, a brief written test and a review of school and health records.
Sensory processing or integration refers to how the brain organizes and responds to information it gets through the senses. Trouble with sensory processing or integration can cause kids to over- or under-react to things like noise, touch or sudden movement.
Self-monitoring is the ability to observe your own behavior and adjust it to fit the situation. This includes keeping track of how you’re doing on a particular task.
Specific learning disability (SLD) is the legal term for a learning disability. SLD is a language-based condition that causes difficulty with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling or doing math calculations.
Working memory is the brain’s ability to hold on to information long enough to use it. When you hear a phone number, remember it and then dial it, you’re using working memory.
Understanding terms like these can make it easier to communicate with learning specialists. It’s helpful to know education terms, too. Explore words educators use.