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There REALLY needs to be an undergrad course for Special Education acronyms and terms. I'd love to know how this trend even started – there are SO many! 

Special Education Acronyms and Terms

When I first began teaching, I started to create my own notes to keep track …adding terms here and there as they came up in IEP meetings.

Can you imagine all the sticky notes?

Next, I entered the stage in my career when I started USING all those acronyms – did I sound more official tossing around PSRS and PWN?

My guess is no.

Finally I arrived at the point when I was mentoring other special educators and after more conversations with teachers and families, I realized how intimidating it can be when we are sitting around the IEP meeting table and speaking in code. 

Let's take a quick quiz with twenty common special education acronyms!

How many of these terms do you 1) remember from your higher education coursework and teacher certification exams and 2) use frequently in your role in social interactions that take place in the special education or general education classroom?

  • AT – Assistive Technology
  • OI – Orthopedic Impairment
  • OT – Occupational Therapy
  • PT – Physical Therapy
  • VI – Visual Impairment
  • SLD – Specific Learning Disability
  • FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education
  • IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Act
  • FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  • LRE – Least Restrictive Environment
  • PLEP – Present Level of Educational Performance
  • SAS – Supplementary Aids and Services
  • ESY – Extended School Year
  • TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury
  • ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • PDD – Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • FBA – Functional Behavior Assessment
  • BIP – Behavior Intervention Plan
  • ASL – American Sign Language

How did you do?

The use of acronyms during important conversations and IEP meetings can be confusing for families and educators who are not familiar with them. It's hard enough to understand what's going on during an IEP meeting without having to worry about unfamiliar acronyms.

I decided to create a cheat sheet…well, actually two!

  • Special Education Acronyms – Just the Facts

In this free download, you'll see an “one-pager” – a priority list of terms that are most commonly used. This is the perfect page to print and slip into your IEP binder or paraprofessional training manual.

  • Special Education Acronyms – Mega List

You will also see additional pages that includes WAY more terms than you will use in one school year. This will be helpful to keep on hand for conferences, training, and meetings. There's even room to add more terms (if you can imagine that!).

These lists serve as a guide to understanding the most important acronyms used in the IEP process and special education services. By providing a list of common special education acronyms before your next IEP meeting, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page. These pages are also ideal for tucking into a new special education teacher or paraprofessional binder or parent guide.

Find the glossary of special education acronyms cheat sheet inside the free resource library.

Click below to get access!

This helpful cheat sheet and MANY others are included in Special Educators Resource Room. Learn more about accessing all these organization tools HERE!

Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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