504 plan.

A plan that identifies accommodations (changes or adjustments) that a student with a disability needs to be successful at school. Students with a 504 plan don’t receive an IEP or special education services. Students who don’t qualify for an IEP may qualify for a 504 plan.



Changes or adjustments that help meet a person’s individual needs. Examples include getting extra time to do assignments or take tests, taking a test orally instead of in writing and working one-on-one with a teacher.

alternative and augmentative communication (AAC).

Methods of communication for people who can't use speech (talking) to communicate; examples include sign language and using a computer for speech.


Training in a trade or craft that includes paid work and on-the-job training with a skilled mentor.


choice board.

A learning tool that gives students choices about how they learn. They often look like a tic-tac-toe board with nine squares. Students can make choices about learning activities and then mark them on the board. They may make choices in a row or by color of choose them at random.

college entrance exam.

A test that colleges use to see if they want to admit you. Examples include the SAT and the ACT.

college prep courses.

Classes to help you get ready for the kind of coursework you'll have in college.

community college.

Two-year education programs for associate degrees. Community colleges also have technical and vocational education programs. They’re often less expensive than four-year colleges and universities.


Travel to work or school.

cooperative education.

Combines classroom learning and on-the-job training.


daily living skills.

Also called life skills or independent living skills. Skills that you need to manage your everyday life. Examples include self-care, home care, cooking and managing money and time.

day habilitation program.

Also called life skills or independent living skills. Skills that you need to manage your everyday life. Examples include self-care, home care, cooking and managing money and time.

dorm room.

A room in a dormitory. A dormitory is a building that has many separate sleeping rooms. You may have a single dorm room. Or you may share a dorm room with others.


employment readiness training.

A program that helps you develop skills and behaviors, like communication, problem-solving and time management, needed to get and keep a job.

executive functioning skills.

Skills that help you stay organized and respond to situations. They help you with things like planning, paying attention and managing time.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The application you complete to apply for financial aid from the federal government. Many states, colleges and private organizations use your FAFSA information to see if you qualify for financial aid.

four-year colleges and universities.

Education programs designed to take four years to complete.


gap year program.

A program often between high school and college that helps you explore your interests to learn about yourself and what you may want to do long term. Programs often include travel and living in another country. Programs may include volunteer work or you may work for pay.

general education diploma (GED).

Also called general educational development. A diploma for people who don’t finish high school. You have to take and pass a test to get your GED.


Money to help you pay for school that usually you don’t have to pay back. Organizations that offer education grants include federal and state governments, colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations.


high school certificate.

A document that says that you’ve completed high school but you haven’t met all the class and grade requirements to graduate.

high school diploma.

A document from a school that says you have met all the class and grade requirements to graduate.


independent living program.

Training to help people with disabilities get ready to live as independently as possible.

Individualized Education Program (IEP).

A plan that identifies programs, goals, services and supports to make sure a student with a disability gets a free and appropriate education at school.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting.

A meeting that must happen at least once a year to make sure a student’s IEP has the right programs, goals and services to get the appropriate education at school.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.

The team that works on an IEP to make sure it meets a student’s needs. The team can include the student, parents, teachers, a school district representative and service providers, like a speech therapist or an occupational therapist.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) transition planning.

Goals in a student’s IEP that help plan for life after high school. Schools must measure and report on the goals.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

A U.S. law that makes sure that students with disabilities get free and appropriate education in public schools that meets their individual needs.

intensive support.

See levels of support. Hourly support needed for most daily activities.


levels of support.

Some support: Support not needed for most daily activities.

Moderate support: Daily support needed for some but not all daily activities.

Intensive support: Hourly support needed for most daily activities.

life skills.

Also called daily living or independent living skills. Skills that you need to manage your everyday life. Examples include self-care, home care, cooking and managing money and time.



Someone who teaches you or gives you help or advice.

minimally verbal.

Someone who uses mostly gestures or single words to communicate.

moderate support.

See levels of support. Daily support needed for some but not all daily activities.


Wanting to do something.


organizational skills.

Skills that can help you plan and complete a task. Examples include using checklists and planners and having a set time to study each day.



After high school.


What you like or want more than something else.


reward chart.

A chart that lists goals and progress you make toward reaching them. When you reach a goal, you get a reward. For example, if your goal is to finish your homework each day for a week, you get a sticker or checkmark on the chart each day you finish homework. If you get a sticker or checkmark each day, you get a reward at the end of the week.



Being able to communicate your needs and preferences to others. It includes understanding your needs and legal rights, knowing what help and support you need, and communicating your needs to others.


Taking action to deal with challenging emotions or behavior or sensory discomfort. For example, you may count or take deep breaths to calm yourself down.

sensory item.

Something that helps manage one or more of your senses to help you calm down and focus your attention. Examples include fidgets and massage balls.

social skills.

Skills needed to communicate and interact with people; skills can be verbal (talking) and nonverbal (gestures, body language and appearance).

social skills group.

A group that meets to practice social skills.

some support.

See levels of support. Support not needed for most daily activities.

support levels.

See levels of support.


Tools or services that help people with autism in their daily lives. Examples of supports include activities that get you involved in the community, communication devices, job coaching, mentors, social skills groups and summer camp programs.



Working with other people to complete a task or achieve a goal.

time management.

Planning and controlling the amount of time you spend on daily activities.

token system.

A program to help you achieve goals. You get a physical token (something you can hold in your hand) when you complete a task. You collect them and trade them later for a reward. Tokens can be things like poker chips, marbles or coins.

trade school.

See vocational education.


A teacher who gives you private lessons one-on-one or in a small group.


visual prompt.

Also called a visual cue. A picture, video or written instructions that help you learn or know to do a task or follow directions.

vocational education.

Also called a vocational-technical school or trade school. Prepares you to work in a specific trade, craft or job function. Examples include auto services, construction, retail sales, floral design and computer network management.

vocational rehabilitation (VR).

A program that helps people with disabilities find and keep jobs.

vocational specialist.

A trained professional who helps people with disabilities set goals and understand their skills for getting and keeping a job.