Terms D-G

DEAF: A hearing loss so severe that the auditory channel is not the primary means of developing speech and language skills.

DEAF/BLINDNESS: Means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for students with deafness or students with blindness.

DECLASSIFICATION: The process in which a child with a disability is no longer considered in need of special education services. This requires a meeting of the IEP team and can be requested by the parent, school, or child if over the age of 18.

DEFICIT: An area where the level of performance that is less than expected for a child.

DELAY: Development which does not occur within expected time ranges.

DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY: A delay in the area of cognition, socialization, independent functioning, communication or motor skills resulting in a child having slower and or difficulty acquiring skills than his or her typical age peers.

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY (DD): A severe and chronic mental or physical impairment which developed before age 22 and limits several major life activities.

DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY: The developmental (stages of growth) progress of a child in such skills as sitting, walking, or talking.

DIAGNOSIS: Refers to the specific disorder(s) identified as a result of some evaluation.

DISABILITY: In Section 504 and ADA, defined as impairment that substantially affects one or more major life activities; an individual who has a record of having such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

DISCREPANCY FORMULA: A formula used to establish the existence of a severe difference between achievement and intellectual ability. (state-selected formula is permitted under federal law)

DISTRACTIBILITY: Refers to difficulty in maintaining attention.

DOMAINS: The functional performance areas in which a child’s performance is assessed: physical, cognitive, social and emotional.

DOWNS SYNDROME: A condition diagnosed at birth, which includes mental retardation and is the result of improper cell division during fetal development.

DUE PROCESS: A legal procedure guaranteeing a meaningful opportunity to challenge a government action. In special education, this assures parents and children a hearing before placement or reassignment in special education. In general, due process includes the elements of notice, opportunity to be heard and to defend ones' self.

DYSCALCULIA: A learning disability in which the child has an inability to calculate, apply, solve, or identify mathematical functions.

DYSFLUENCY: Difficulty in the production of fluent speech as in the example of stuttering.

DYSGRAPHIA: A learning disability in which the child has an inability or loss of ability to write.

DYSLEXIA: A learning disability in which the child has an inability or loss of ability to read and write.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Instruction or intervention that precedes traditional schooling to aid the educational success of children who have been identified as having a disability or being at-risk.

EARLY INTERVENTION (EI): Special education and related services provided to children under age of 3.

EDUCATIONAL METHODOLOGY: Choices in instructional methods or curriculum content.

ELIGIBILITY: The determination of whether or not a child qualifies to receive special education services based on meeting the disability criteria established by the State Board of Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED (ED): Means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a student’s educational performance due to:
  • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors;
  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
  • Inappropriate types of behaviors or feelings under normal circumstances;
  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

EPILEPSY: A chronic condition of the central nervous system which is characterized by periodic seizures, convulsions of the muscles, and with more severe episodes, loss of consciousness.

ETIOLOGY: The origin or cause of a disease or condition.

EVALUATION: Refers to the interpretation of information secured through assessment.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE: The ability to turn thoughts and feelings into words, writing or by gestures.

EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR: Special education programming that extends beyond the 180 days of the regular school year.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Programs sponsored by a school district that are not part of the required curriculum but are instead offered to further the interests and abilities of students.

EYE-HAND COORDINATION: The ability of an individual to combine functions of the eyes and the hands in carrying out manipulative activities involving the hands.

FINE MOTOR: Refers to coordination of small muscles in a purposeful manner, such as writing, paper-pencil tasks, etc.

FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE): A key requirement of IDEA ’97 which requires an educational program for all children with no cost to parents in the most normal setting possible.

FUNCTIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSESSMENT: The process for gathering information that can be used to build effective behavioral support plans. An assessment is complete when three main outcomes can be accomplished: (1) Description of the undesirable behaviors(s), (2) Prediction of the times and situations when the undesirable behavior(s) will and will not occur across the full range of typical daily routines, (3) Definition of the function(s) that the undesirable behavior produces for the student with a disability.

GENERAL CURRICULUM: Curriculum adopted by local school districts for all children from preschool through high school.

GENERALIZATION: Ability to apply a skill or behavior learned in one setting to another setting or ability to apply a learned skill or behavior in similar situations.

GRADE EQUIVALENT: A type of test score which represents what school grade the child has achieved in the skill being tested.

GROSS MOTOR DEVELOPMENT: Ability to use and manipulate the large muscle groups involved in activities such as running and throwing.