Definitions of Commonly Used Diagnosis Terms


ACHIEVEMENT or ACADEMIC TEST: A test  that is designed to reveal what a person has learned - usually in the basics such as math and reading. It differs from intelligence tests which are designed to reflect a person's intellectual potential.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY DEVICE: An item, piece of equipment, software, product or system that is used to increase maintain or improve the  function and capabilities of a person with a disability.

ASSOCIATED DEFICITS:  Neurobehavioral deficits that are not directly related to the initial diagnosis, but tend to point towards more diffuse brain involvement.

ATTENTION: Selective but goal directed and sustained perceptions that involve arousal and attention. Length of time a child can attend to a stimulus increases with age, interest and intelligence.

ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER: A neurobehavioral disorder with varying symptoms across populations but mostly characterized by a short attention span, distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

AUDITORY MEMORY: The ability to store and retrieve verbal and sound information  and to relate it to the acquisition and use of receptive and expressive language.

AUDITORY TRAINING: The process of teaching a person with a hearing impairment how to make the best use of residual acoustic cues.

AUDITORY PROCESS TRAINING: A method of training the listening process of people with an auditory processing disorder, that increases the person's ability to separate sounds and build phonological awareness. Click
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ANTECEDENTS: events or factors that precede or coincide with a behavior.

ANXIETY DISORDERS: Psychiatric disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and implicated in the diagnosis of panic attacks, separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.

AUTISM: A neurobiological syndrome characterized by delays in developing social skills, language and play. Stereotypical behaviors, preference for sameness, tactile defensiveness and hyperactivity are also seen in this disorder.

AUTOSOMAL DOMINANT: Mendelian inheritance pattern in which a single copy of a gene leads to expression of the trait.

AUTOSOMINAL RECESSIVE: Mendelian inheritance pattern in which two carrier parents have a 25% chance of passing the trait to each subsequent child.

AUTOSOMES: The first 22 parts of the chromosomes. All chromosomes except for the two sex chromosomes are autosomes.

BACKWARD CHAINING: a method of teaching that begins with teaching the last step in a sequence because this step is most likely to be associated with a potent positive reinforcer. An example of this would be to teach the pulling of the bow together as the final step in tying a shoe. while at the same time applauding the effort of the learner.

BASIC SKILL: Skills that are considered that are considered to be the basic building blocks for functioning on a daily basis. The mastery of these skills are is necessary to progress to higher levels of achievement. Learning disabled children frequently have basic skills that are not uniformly developed or are attained through other predominant processing styles so that achievement of other academics at higher levels, such as problem solving or integration of information are even more difficult to achieve.

BEHAVIOR DISORDER: a term that refers to behavior that is observed to deviate from the norm. It connotes a diagnosis that is based on the presence of one or more deviant or problem behaviors that do not originate from  a serious childhood psychopathology such as childhood schizophrenia.

BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT: For children with neurological problems a parenting style that seeks to communicate a message of: "Don't do that", in response to an inappropriate behavior is usually ineffective in curbing undesired behavior. Therefore behavioral strategies that move the focus from a reactive stimulus-response approach to a proactive preventative management approach, eliminates environmental support for negative behaviors while seeking to provide environmental supports for positive behaviors .

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY: A severe chronic disability of a person 5 years of age or older, which is attributable to mental or physical impairment or a combination of mental and physical impairments. The conditioned is recognized before the person attains the age of 22 with most being noted in the earlier years. The condition can be applied to infants and children under the age of 5 if they are presenting with substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired conditions that have a high probability of resulting in developmental disabilities. The developmental disability is further recognized when substantial functional limitations are present in three or more areas of major life activity, 1) self care 2) receptive and expressive language, 3) mobility, 4) self direction 5) learning 6) capacity for independent living 7) economic self sufficiency.

DSM IV DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS: A text published by the American Psychiatric Disorders Association that relates the most commonly used classification systems for abnormal behaviors and mental disorders. Also contains specific diagnosis criteria, a multiaxial classification system, and an increased emphasis on descriptive determinants of mental and physical disorders.

DICHOTIC LISTENING: A test of speech lateralization in children where by different stimuli are stereographically presented to both ears hence the term dichotic. The stimulus that is correctly discriminated determines the efficiency of the auditory processing.

DIRECTIONALITY: Being aware of the right and left sides of the body and the ability to apply this realization to external objects. Individuals with problems with directionality frequently reverse letters or numbers such as b and d. they do this because they cannot consistently perceive or determine that the particular symbol is pointed in a particular direction such as the b is to the right and d to the left. This may also be referred to as right/left confusion.

DISABILITY: Any restriction or lack of ability (resulting from an impairment) to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered usual for a human being.

DISABILITY ETIQUETTE : Word usage and behavior that is preferred when writing about, meeting, socializing with or assisting people with disabilities. Some specific terminology is still debated among groups of people with disabilities and their advocates. The general rules that have been agreed upon are to emphasize abilities not limitations, avoid words of judgment or negative connotations, demonstrate patience and ask if assistance is needed. The goal of enlightened language usage and treatment is to more fully integrate people with disabilities into society and to lessen misunderstanding and ignorance among the population without disabilities.

DYSCALCULIA: A mathematics learning disability characterized by mathematics being the only or the most severely involved subject area. A mathematics disability that begins in the fourth grade may be secondary to a reading disability. Mathematics errors such as misreading operations signs or reversing numerical order may reflect either a mathematics or a reading problem. Difficulty with mathematics often reflects right-brain involvement.

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