Pediatric ABA Therapy Terms; L-P

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The educational setting that permits a child with disabilities to derive the most educational benefit while participating in a regular educational environment to the maximum extent appropriate. It is presumed that a child with a disability will be educated in the general education classroom, with appropriate supports, unless the IEP Team deems another setting as more appropriate. LRE is a requirement under the IDEA.

Listener Behavior

Following instructions from others (e.g., walking toward someone when told “Please come here”).

Local Education Agency (LEA)

The agency responsible for providing special educational services on the local (county) level. Also called Local School System (LSS).

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is a screening tool designed to be used by pediatricians
to identify young children who are at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

A mand is a verbal operant that is under control of conditions of deprivation (not having something you want), or aversive stimulation (something that is uncomfortable that you want to stop). A mand is a request for something (e.g., asking for an item that you need to complete an activity, asking for information, or asking for something to stop).

Medically Fragile
Referring to an infant or child whose health status either is unstable or renders him at risk for developmental delay, often due to poor health.

Motivating Operation (MO)

An event or condition that (a) temporarily alters the effectiveness of a reinforcer or punisher, and (b) influences behavior that normally leads to that reinforce or punisher.

Motor Skill
The learned ability to perform movements, such as holding the body in an upright position to sit, using the hands to manipulate small items, scooping food onto a spoon and bringing the spoon to the mouth, and moving the lips and tongue to articulate different sounds.

Mental Retardation
According to the American Association on Mental Retardation, “Mental retardation refers to substantial limitations in present functioning. It is characterized by significantly sub-average intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two or more of the following applicable adaptive skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use,
self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work.” In other words, someone with mental retardation performs significantly below his age level in both intellectual functioning (intelligence) and adaptive behavior. Mental retardation is the most common developmental disorder, affecting about two to three percent of the total population.

The abbreviation for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine. Thought by some to cause autism in some children.


Diagnoses and treats disorders of the nervous system
(brain, spinal cord, muscles and nerves). A child neurologist is trained to understand childhood medical disorders and the special needs of the child and family.

Nonverbal Behaviors
Acts performed by a person in order to convey or exchange information without the use of speech May include eye gaze, facial expressions, body posture, and gestures.

Non-functional Intervention
A behavioral intervention that does not directly address the reinforcer or purpose of a problem behavior.

Nonfunctional Routines

Repeated actions or behaviors that appear to not have a purpose. Children with ASD may place purpose in what appears to be senseless routines.

Nonverbal Communication
Any form of or attempt at unspoken or “physical” communication. Examples are temper tantrums, gestures, pointing and leading another person to the desired object.

Occupational Therapist (OT)
This Treats individuals who have physical, neurological, emotional and developmental disabilities. Works to improve the child’s coordination and fine motor skills, focusing on practical, daily living skills like self-feeding and getting dressed.

Occupational Therapy (OT)
A Therapeutic treatment aimed at helping the injured, ill or disabled individual to develop and improve self-help skills and adaptive behavior and play. The occupational therapist also addresses the young child’s motor, sensory and postural development with the overall goals of preventing or minimizing the impact of impairment and developmental delay. The therapist also promotes the acquisition of new skills to increase the child or adult’s ability to function independently.

Parent-Professional Partnership

The teaming of parents and teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists and other professionals to work together to facilitate the development of children and adults with special needs.

Using trained single and multiple peers to promote social interaction and academic skills in children with disabilities.

Redundant repetition of word(s) or action(s) without stopping or moving on.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)

A diagnostic category in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) that includes Autistic Disorder. The DSM uses the term Pervasive Developmental Disorder to refer to a “severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development: reciprocal social interaction skills, communication skills, or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities.” Sometimes doctors use the abbreviation PDD alone when diagnosing a child who has some, but not all, of the symptoms of autism.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PPD -NOS)
A catchall label for individuals with ASD who don’t meet the specific diagnostic criteria for any of the other pervasive developmental disorder classifications.

Physical Therapist (PT)
A PT Helps develop and improve muscle strength, coordination and large motor skills.

Physical Therapy (PT)
A Therapeutic treatment designed to prevent or alleviate movement dysfunction through a program tailored to the individual child. The goal of the program may be to develop muscle strength, range of motion, coordination or endurance; to alleviate pain; or to attain new motor skills. Therapeutic exercise may include passive exercise (in which the therapist moves and stretches the child’s muscles) or the child may actively participate in learning new ways to acquire and control positions and movement.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
Is a communication training program for helping children with autism acquire functional communication skills. Children using PECS are taught to give a picture of the desired item to a communicative partner in exchange for the item, thus initiating a communicative act for a concrete outcome within a social context.

Pivotal Response Training
Is a set of procedures designed to increase motivation and promote generalization. It was developed to overcome problems of stimulus over-selectivity and motivation. The intervention focuses on a set of specific procedures that increase responsiveness to simultaneous multiple cues. The logic of teaching pivotal target behaviors is that educators might indirectly affect a large number of individual behaviors.

The process of choosing an appropriate educational setting for a special needs child.

Positive Behavior Support

The identification and analysis of a child’s problematic behavior, followed by the teaching of proper and expected behavior.

Positive Reinforcement
The act of rewarding someone after they perform a desired behavior to motivate them, increasing the likelihood that this behavior will be repeated. Rewards can include praise, food, toys and other incentives.

Social rules for appropriate, meaningful use of speech and conversation

An estimate of the course and outcome of a disease or other condition, including the chances of recovery.

An input that encourages an individual to perform a movement or activity. A prompt may be verbal, gestural or physical. An example of a prompt is tapping beneath one’s chin as a visual reminder to the child to close her mouth to prevent drooling. Also known as a cue.

5-Star Google Reviews
Read More Testimonials

"Chicago ABA Therapy is a boon for special needs kids and parents. They take a play-based, personalized approach and meet the kids where they are. They also go above and beyond - our ABA therapist took time to make sure we as parents understood every aspect of our child's experience, understood how to read his progress reports and generally made us feel a part of his therapy. My child loved all his therapists. Highly recommend the team!"

"We were so happy with our experience with Chicago ABA. We began working with them when our son was almost 4, a few months after his autism diagnosis. It was such an amazing team to work with - everyone was professional, responsive, flexible, and worked so hard for our son to meet his goals, which he did beautifully. We worked together for almost 2 years before he left for kindergarten, and in that time period he met almost all of his goals. We went through several bumps in the road with behavioral difficulties, and the Chicago ABA team did an amazing job helping us problem solve, try new strategies and think of ways to translate those strategies at home. We couldn't recommend them more highly - anyone who works with Chicago ABA will be lucky to have the experience!"