Autism Jargon, Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Terminology

Let’s think of the moment that a child has just been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Yes, at that moment parents thought that it was overwhelming and it was too much to handle. But it is not. An autism spectrum diagnosis is not a death sentence. Only it is time to have different parenting role that they had imagined. Even it may not happen the same way as they imagined, they will find out the beauty of that new life that was just presented to them. They should keep in mind that different does not mean less.

Before discovering the new adventure, there are things that they will want to know. When their child was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, they wish they have a guide or kind of dictionary to explain what all those autism acronyms mean. Because of the fact that they go to professionals, they search on the internet and they see or hear all the acronyms related to autism but they do not understand.

Under these circumstances, they have felt like they were speaking a different language than professionals do. And it becomes more overwhelming in this way. Obviously, if there is no one with autism spectrum disorder around you, you cannot be familiar with this language which is autism jargon.



At this point in time, I will try to write a list of jargon, slang, acronyms, abbreviations, and terms which are commonly used in the autism community by the professionals mostly, but it will be helpful for the people who have someone with an autism spectrum disorder in their lives. Also, it may be helpful for the general public to get information about autism.

  • Autistic person: Person with an autism spectrum disorder
  • Autistic landscape: It is used for describing some conditions related to autism. It could be dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • AAA: Adult Asperger Assessment
  • AAC: Alternative and Augmentative Communication 
  • AACT: Autism Awareness Care and Training
  • AAD: Autoimmune Autistic Disorder
  • AAEC: Approved Autism Evaluation Centers
  • AANE: Autism and Asperger Network


  • AARG: Adult Autism Resource Group
  • AARTS: Autism Assessment Research Treatment and Services
  • AASS: Autism Advisory and Support Service
  • ABA Therapy: Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy
  • ABC: Autism Behavior Checklist
  • ABIDE: Autism Brain ımagining Data Exchange
  • ABS: Adaptive Behavior Scale
  • ACAP: Autistic Children’s Activity Program
  • ACIS: Assessment of Communication and Interaction Skills
  • ACTH: Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone. It is made in the pituitary gland and needed for adrenal glands in order to work properly and help the body react to stress. It improves the core symptoms of autism.
  • ADDL: Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab
  • ADEC: Autism Detection in Early Childhood
  • ADEP: Autism Diagnosis Education Project
  • ADHD: Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder. It refers to a group of behavioral symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.


  • ADI: Autism Diagnostic Interview
  • ADLI: Autism Developmental Language Impairments
  • ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale 
  • AFAA: Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism
  • AFIRM: Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules
  • ANDI: Autism Network for Dıetary Intervention
  • ANI: Autism Network International
  • APD: Auditory Processing Disorder
  • APEP: Autism Parent Education Program
  • APERS: Autism Program Environment Rating Scale
  • ARD: Admission, Review, Dismissal
  • ARM: Autism Rights Movement
  • ARP: Autism Research Program
  • ASC: Autism Spectrum Conditions
  • ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder. The term is used to cover all forms of autism which consist of from classical autism to autistic tendencies.
  • AS: Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Aspie: A person with Asperger’s Syndrome
  • ASERT: Autism Services Education Resources and Training
  • ASF: Autism Science Foundation
  • ASK: Autism Solution for Kids


  • ASQ: Autism Screening Questionnaire
  • ASRS: Autism Spectrum Rating Scale
  • AST: Autism Spectrum Therapies
  • ATEC: Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist
  • Attachment Disorder: Difficulties in relating to other people, having difficulty in forming and maintaining relationships.
  • AUC: Area Under the Curve
  • BCBA: Board Certified Behavior Analysis
  • BMJ: British Medical Journal
  • BMP: Behavior Management Plan
  • CA: Classical Autism (fits all the diagnostic criteria)
  • CACD: Comprehensive Autism Care Demonstration
  • CADB: Center for Autism and the Developing Brain
  • CAMHS: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
  • CARS: Childhood Autism Rating Scale
  • CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addictions, depression, and anxiety. When it comes to a person with autism, it helps to treats the problems which are caused by autism.
  • CDD: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (Heller’s Syndrome)
  • CEAC: Cost-Effectiveness Acceptability Curve
  • CEASE: Complete Elimination of Autism Spectrum Expression
  • CGA: Clinical Global Assessment


  • Chaining: It is a procedure for teaching a behavior sequence where the child masters one step a time, while the teacher completes the remaining steps, which could be unknown until the child has mastered all the steps.
  • CI: Confidence Interval
  • CIN: Child In Need
  • Clinical Assessment: An assessment by one or more of a range of professionals
  • CPS: Conner’s’ Parent Scale
  • CQC: Care Quality Commission
  • CU: Clinical Unit
  • Day Centers:  A place which is providing care and recreation facilities for people who cannot be fully independent. They also offer opportunities in order to meet other people socially and access activities.
  • DAS: Developmental Apraxia of Speech
  • DLA: Disability Living Allowance
  • DCD: Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
  • DD: Developmentally Disabled. It is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments. Mostly they arise before adulthood.
  • DISCO: Dıagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders
  • DSM: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (listing the diagnostic criteria for all mental health disorders)
  • DRA: A type of intervention which is used to reduce challenging behaviors. More appropriate behavior is identified. Reinforcement is given when the more appropriate behavior is used or observed.
  • DRO: Giving a reward when the behavior is not happening. If the behavior happens, reword or access to the reinforce stops.
  • Dx: Diagnostic, Diagnosed
  • Dyslexia: Having difficulties in reading and organizational skills. It is a general term includes difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols. General intelligence is not affected.
  • Dyscalculia: Having difficulties in numbers, time and spatial reasoning
  • Dyspraxia: Having difficulties in coordination of movements and special awareness.


  • Echolalia: A term that is used to describe a person’s non-functional repetition of certain phrases such as those heard on television programs or from another person. In short, repeating noises and phrases that they hear.
  • ECA: Early Childhood Autism
  • ECAP: Early Childhood Autism Prevention
  • ECI: Early Childhood Intervention
  • EHC: Education, Health and Care Plan. It is a result of an assessment of a young person with educational needs.
  • EI: Early Intervention
  • EP: Educational Psychologist
  • EQ: Empathy Quotient
  • ESPA: Early Support Program for Autism
  • ESY: Extended School Year
  • FAPE: Free and Appropriate Public Education
  • FBA: Functional Behavior Assessment. It is a multi-step, problem-solving and assessment process which is designed in order to determine the function of a behavior. Also, it is an essential process helps others around people with autism understand why a challenging behavior is happening so that others can change it effectively.
  • FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts
  • FN: False Negative
  • FP: False Positive
  • FXS: Fragile X Syndrome. It is a genetic disorder that causes developmental problems. These problems include intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and cognitive impairment.
  • GAP: General Assessment Parents Scale
  • GARS: Gilliam Autism Rating Scale
  • GBRS: Global Behavior Rating Scales
  • GDG: Guideline Developmental Group
  • GFCF: Gluten Free/ Casein Free (special diet individuals with autism have)


  • HFA: High Functioning Autism (having 70 or over IQ)
  • ICD: International Classification of Diseases
  • Idiosyncratic Language: It occurs when the child uses standard words or phrases in an unusual but in a meaningful way. It refers to language with private meanings or meaning that only makes sense to those familiar with the situation where the phrase originated. They are speaking in a way that assumes everyone knows what they want.
  • IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • IEP: Individualized Education Plan
  • IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan
  • Intervention: An action is intended to help people with autism spectrum. It could be treatment therapy, the provision of service and so on.
  • IPS: Individual Placement and Support
  • IPP: Individualized Program Plan
  • IQ: Intelligence Quotient
  • ISA: Independent Safeguarding Authority
  • ISP: Individualized Service Plan
  • IU: Imperial Unit
  • IV: Inverse Variance
  • LA: Local Authority
  • LDA: Learning Difficulty Assessment
  • LFA: Low Functioning Autism (having 70 or below IQ)
  • LP: Lipoid Proteinosis
  • LRE: Least Restrictive Environment
  • MCA: Mental Capacity Act


  • Meltdown: It is an intense response to overwhelming situations. It happens when a person with autism spectrum disorder become completely overwhelmed by their current situation and temporarily loses behavioral control. This loss of control can be expressed verbally, physically or in both ways.
  • MOAS: Modified Overt Aggression Scale
  • MR: Mentally Retarded
  • MSDD: Multi-Sensory Developmental Delays
  • CHAT: Checklist for Autism in Toddlers
  • M-Chat: Modified – Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (Autism screening tool)
  • N/A: Not Applicable
  • Natural Environment Training: Using a child’s world as their classrooms
  • NOS: Not Otherwise Specified
  • NT: Neurotypical, typically developing, not autistic
  • NVLD: Non- Verbal Learning Disorder, It is very similar to Asperger’s Syndrome but less severe form.
  • OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • ODD: Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It demonstrates with disobedient, hostile and aggressive behaviors towards authority figures.
  • OT: Occupational Therapy or Occupational Therapist. It enables or helps people to engage in appropriate everyday activities. And as a result, their quality of life increases.


  • PAC: Pre- Assessment Checklist
  • PDA: Pathological Demand Avoidance. It is an avoidance of everyday tasks.
  • PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder (It characterizes as a delay in social, communication and motor skills which does not meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder in DSM.)
  • PDD NOS: Persuasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Atypical Autism. Individuals who do not fit into the diagnosis of either autism or Asperger’s Syndrome
  • PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System. It allows people with little or no communication abilities to communicate by using pictures.
  • Positive Reinforcement: It is an addition of a reward following a desired behavior.
  • PPCD: Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities
  • PT: Physical Therapy or Physical Therapist
  • Perseveration: A singular, obsessional interest in objects, characters, topics, or activities.
  • Regression: It is a process in which children appear to develop normal language and social skills but then loses these abilities with the onset of autism.
  • RHLD: Right Hemisphere Learning Disorder
  • SALT: Speech and Language Therapy
  • SBS: Sensory Behavior Schedule
  • SCQ: Social Communication Questionnaire


  • SEBD: Social and Emotional Behavioral Difficulties
  • SEN: Special Educational Needs
  • Shaping: It is a teaching technique which is used for teaching an unknown skill. The individual is rewarded for the successful approximation of a target skill, gradually the reinforcement is given only as the approximation gets closer to the target skill.
  • SIB: Self- Injurious Behavior. It is one of the most devastating behaviors. Any behavior that results in someone causing physical harm to him or herself.
  • SLP: Speech and Language Pathologist
  • SM: Selective Mutism. It is an anxiety disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech cannot speak in specific situations or to specific people. It is more common among children.
  • SPD: Sensory Processing Disorder (having difficulty with taking in and responding to sensory information)
  • SSRI: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. It is a type of antidepressants which is widely prescribed and used. The exact mechanism of it is not known. It is used to decreases the side effects of autism.
  • ST: Speech Therapy or Speech Therapist
  • STAART: Studies To Advance Autism Research and Treatment
  • Stimming: The repetitive self-stimulation motions, such as hand-flapping, rocking, rubbing, pacing or swaying. This includes mannerisms of hand, body and odd posturing.
  • Triad of impairments: It is used for social interaction, social communication and social imagination which are the areas that individuals with autism spectrum disorder find difficult to process. They are used to diagnose autism.


  • TAASSK: Test of Adolescent Social Skills Knowledge
  • TEACCH: Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children
  • TN: True Negative
  • TP: True Positive
  • TS: Tourette’s Syndrome. It explicits itself with sudden involuntary movements or tics with vocal noises or inappropriate sounds which cannot be controlled by the person.
  • ToM: Theory of Mind. It is the ability to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, and desires that are different from your own. It is a kind of empathy.
  • VIQ: Verbal IQ
  • WAAD: World Autism Awareness Day
  • WAIS: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
  • WAO: World Autism Organization
  • YAP: Young Autism Project

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