A Parent’s Guide to Special Needs

Below is a list of commonly used acronyms and terms. This list was partially adapted from and used with permission of Washington PAVE.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.ARC (The Arc): Advocates for the Rights of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities and their families. An organization that advocates for the rights and full participation of all people with developmental disabilities.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN, also called ARNP or APN): a nurse with an advanced degree (Master’s or Doctorate) knowledge, skills and scope of practice, often in a specialty area.

Care Coordinator: a person who connects and coordinates support, services and resources for children with special health care needs and their parents at home, in child care, in school, or in health care or community settings.Case Manager: a person who coordinates and connects support, services and resources for children with special health care needs and their families. Case management services can occur in schools, health care settings, in child care facilities and in communities.

CD: Communication Disorders

Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) at the University of Washington: provides clinical services, interdisciplinary clinical and research training, and technical assistance and outreach training to community practitioners and community agencies.

CHDD: Center on Human Development and Disability at the University of Washington (see definition)

Child Life Specialist (CLS): a pediatric health care professional who work with patients, their family and others involved in the child’s care in order to help them manage stress and understand medical and various procedures.

Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN): those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, development, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.

Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) Coordinator: a public health nurse who coordinates services and care for children with chronic health conditions.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): an advanced practice nurse, with graduate preparation (earned master’s or doctorate) who is a clinical expert in the diagnosis and treatment of illness, and the delivery of evidence-based nursing interventions.

CNA: Certified Nursing Assistant

CNS: Clinical Nurse Specialist (see definition)

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI): A process being used at health care organizations with the goal of improving systems of care for patients, families and staff.

CPI: Continuous Process Improvement (see definition)

CSHCN: Children with Special Health Care Needs (see definition)

DD: Developmentally Disabled, Developmental Disability

Developmental Delay: when a child’s cognitive, physical, communication, social-emotional or adaptive/self help abilities are at a level that is less than typical peers of a similar age. A developmental evaluation must be completed to assess the level of delay.

DH: Developmentally Handicapped

ECEAP: Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program-provides preschool education, family support and health and nutrition services to Washington State low-income three and four year old children to promote school success.ED: Emergency Department

Family Centered Care (FCC): assures the health and well-being of children and their families through a respectful family-professional partnership. It honors the strengths, cultures, traditions and expertise that everyone brings to this relationship. Family centered care is the standard of practice which results in high quality services.

Family Resource Coordinator (FRC): a Washington State care coordinator who helps find services for children between birth and 3 years of age who have developmental delay.

Fathers Network: provides up-to-date information and resources for fathers, family members, and care providers who care for children with special needs and developmental disabilities.

FRC: Family Resources Coordinator (see definition)

Genetic Services: include evaluation, diagnosis, follow-up, and treatment for inherited disorders and birth defects. They can include a review of family and medical history, physical examination, counseling, education, laboratory testing, and referral for appropriate management. Services provide individuals and families with information about inherited disorders, how genetic conditions are passed on in families, and the risks that a condition will affect other family members.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): provides rights and protections for participants and beneficiaries in group health plans. HIPAA includes protections for coverage under group health plans that limit exclusions for preexisting conditions; prohibit discrimination against employees and dependents based on their health status; and allow a special opportunity to enroll in a new plan to individuals in certain circumstances.Health Maintenance Organization: a managed health care plan, public or private, that provides health care services to their members through networks of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.

HI: Hearing Impaired

HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (see definition)

HMO: Health Maintenance Organization (see definition)

HOH: Hard of Hearing

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (see definition)

IEP: Individual Education Plan (see defintion)

IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan (see definition)

IHP: Individual Health Plan (see definition)

Individual Education Plan: a written plan developed by the parents and school personnel that describes goals and objectives for a child during the school year.

Individual Health Plan (IHP): a document that outlines health care to be provided in the school setting, created by the school nurse in conjunction with parents.

Individual Support Plan (ISP): a written plan given to the eligible client by a Developmental Disabilities Case Resource Manage in Washington State following an assessment and planning session. The ISP describes the services the client is authorized to receive.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): a written document that is developed by the child’s family and a team of professionals; the plan include the necessary early intervention services that will be provided, outcomes or expected gains from the intervention services, and methods to assist parents/primary care givers to support the child’s development.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C: a federal law that requires a system in each state to assure children birth to three are evaluated for developmental delay and receive early intervention services.

Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program (ITEIP): state program that promotes identification of children with developmental delay and early intervention services for children birth to three who have developmental delay.

Institutional Review Board (IRB): a committee that formally approves, monitors, and reviews research with the aim to protect the rights and welfare of those who participate in research. Intern: a doctor who has completed medical school and is in his or her first year of residency training.

IRB: Institutional Review Board (see definition)

ISP: Individual Support Plan (see definition)

ITEIP: Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program (see definition)

LD: Learning Disabled

LEP: Limited English Proficiency

Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB): a federal organization that provides national leadership in partnership with States, communities, public-private partners, and families to strengthen the maternal and child health (MCH) infrastructure, assure the availability and use of medical homes, and build knowledge and human resources in order to assure continued improvement in the health, safety, and well-being of the maternal and child health population.Medical Home: an approach to delivering primary health care through a “team partnership” that ensures health care services are provided in a high-quality, cost effective and comprehensive manner.

MCHB: Maternal and Child Health Bureau (see definition)

MD: Medical Doctor

MHLN: Medical Home Leadership Network in Washington State

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD): an organization that dedicated to helping people with rare “orphan” diseases through programs of education, advocacy, research, and service.

Natural Environment: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that services be provided in a child’s natural environment, meaning where a child normally lives, works or plays.

NICU: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

NORD: National Organization of Rare Disorders (see definition)

OT: Occupational Therapy/Therapist

OTR: Registered Occupational Therapist

Parent to Parent: an organization that provides peer support and information to families of children with special needs and/or disabilities.Parents Are Vital in Education (PAVE): a parent directed organization that works with families, individuals with disabilities, professionals and community members to provide information, training and support.

PAVE: Parents Are Vital in Education (see definition)

PHN: Public Health Nurse

PT: Physical Therapy/Therapist

RD: Registered Dietician

RN: Registered Nurse

RPT: Registered Physical Therapist

RT: Recreational Therapist or Respiratory Therapist

SAFEWA: Statewide Action for Family Empowerment of Washington (see definition)

SCHIP: Statewide Children’s Health Insurance Program (see definition)

Sibling Support Project (SSP): a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns.

SNOW: School Nurse Organization of Washington

Social Security Administration (SSA): a federal program that administers a retirement program and other programs including supplemental security income (SSI)

SPL: Speech and Language Pathologist

SSA: Social Security Administration (see definition)

SSI: Supplemental/Social Security Income (see definition)

SSP: Sibling Support Project (see definition)

Statewide Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP): a federal program that gives funds to states in order to provide health insurance to families with children.

Statewide Action for Family Empowerment of Washington (SAFEWA): a network of family organizations focused on supporting parents and caregivers raising children with emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders.

STOMP: Specialized Training of Military Parents

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): a monthly stipend provided to aged (legally deemed to be 65 or older), blind, or disabled persons based on need.

SW: Social Work/Worker

TDD: Telecommunication Device for the DeafTTY: Telecommunication Device for Deaf, Hearing Impaired, and Speech Impaired Persons

VI: Visually Impaired

WAMI Region: Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

WATA: Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (see definition)

Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP): serves Washington residents of all ages with disabilities of all types, their families, employers and employment service providers, educators, health care and social service providers, and others seeking information about assistive technology (AT) and accessible information technology.

WIC: Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program

WithinReach: a non-profit organization that provides information on services and resources in Washington State

WSFN: Washington State Fathers Network (see definition under Fathers Network)



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