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When I meet a new family for the first time, the first thing I do is explain the ins and outs of the early intervention program. Occasionally (especially when things are hectic, I’m sorry to admit), I dive right in and forget to start at the beginning.
Parents new to special education lingo let me know I’m losing them pretty fast with some very specific non-verbal communication. Either their eyes glaze over in boredom, or they get that deer-in-the-headlights look that says, “I’m overwhelmed. What is happening here?” It’s an important reminder to educators like me to slow down and explain what we are saying.
In special education, everything has an acronym. Add a layer of early intervention, and things get even more messy. (Special education requires “prior written notice,” which is not to be confused with “written prior notice”—a requirement of early intervention in my state. Don’t even get me started on that one.) From eligibilities to services to the paperwork you sign, there’s a tricky nickname for everything. If you haven’t been given the key, it can be a tough code to crack.
Though the jargon varies from state to state, here is a list of acronyms I use in early intervention on a regular basis. I hope it will help you sort out the “alphabet soup” of early childhood special education. As your child’s primary advocate, it’s important to speak up and ask your educators to explain information that you don’t understand.
Laws and Other Legal Terms
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (this is the law that requires students with disabilities be educated, beginning at 2.5 years)