10 Must-Know Acronyms in Special Education

Are you curious about the world of special education? Well, one way to start is by learning about some of the most common acronyms used in this field. From IEP to ADHD, this list covers some of the most frequently used terms that you may encounter when navigating the world of special education. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or student, knowing these acronyms can help you better understand the legal and educational frameworks that govern special education and the services and supports that are available to students with disabilities. So let’s dive in and discover the fascinating world of special education acronyms together!

Here are some of the most commonly used acronyms in special education:

  1. IEP – Individualized Education Program: This is a legal document that outlines the specific educational services that a student with a disability will receive.
  2. FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education: This refers to the right of all children with disabilities to receive an education that is tailored to their unique needs and abilities, at no cost to their families.
  3. IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: This is a federal law that governs how states and public agencies provide special education and related services to children with disabilities.
  4. LRE – Least Restrictive Environment: This refers to the principle that students with disabilities should be educated in the same environment as their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible, while still receiving the appropriate services and supports they need.
  5. FBA – Functional Behavioral Assessment: This is a process for identifying the underlying causes of a student’s challenging behavior, so that appropriate interventions can be put in place.
  6. BIP – Behavior Intervention Plan: This is a plan that outlines specific strategies and supports for addressing a student’s challenging behavior, based on the results of a functional behavioral assessment.
  7. AT – Assistive Technology: This refers to any device or tool that helps a student with a disability to perform tasks that might otherwise be difficult or impossible, such as a communication device or a specialized computer program.
  8. MTSS – Multi-Tiered System of Supports: This is a framework for providing a range of supports and interventions to students at different levels of need, based on ongoing assessments of their progress and needs.
  9. SLD – Specific Learning Disability: This refers to a disorder that affects a student’s ability to learn and process information in one or more areas, such as reading, writing, or math.
  10. ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: This is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect a student’s ability to focus, pay attention, and control their behavior.
Special education. Teddy bear hiding behind a blackboard. Special education text drawing on the blackboard

Here are three websites related to special education that you may find useful:

  1. Understood.org: https://www.understood.org – This website provides resources and support for parents and educators of children with learning and attention issues. They offer articles, videos, and personalized tools to help families and educators understand and support children with a wide range of learning differences.
  2. National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD): https://www.ncld.org/ – The NCLD is a non-profit organization that provides information and resources to support individuals with learning disabilities. They offer resources for parents, educators, and individuals with disabilities, including information on special education law and policy, instructional strategies, and assistive technology.
  3. Council for Exceptional Children (CEC): https://www.cec.sped.org/ – The CEC is a professional organization for special educators and other professionals who work with individuals with disabilities. They offer resources, professional development opportunities, and advocacy efforts to support the education and well-being of individuals with disabilities.


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