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Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with physical or mental disabilities. It characterizes and defines people by their disabilities and also classifies disabled people as being inferior to non-disabled people


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodivergent pattern of brain development characterised by differences in attention, physical and cognitive activity levels and impulsivity. Find out more here

ADI assessment

Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R). A structured interview conducted with parents/carers of the child being assessed for autism, or if an adult is being assessed with someone who knows the individual well and their developmental history.


Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The ADOS is an assessment tool used as part of an autism assessment. The ADOS is a semi structured, standardised assessment of communication, social interaction and play. The ADOS can be used across all age ranges, from young children up to older adults.


Advocacy is when you, or someone else helps you to, share your views and wishes, to stand up for your rights and choices.


Sometimes known as “emotion blindness”; challenges in identifying and recognising one’s own emotional states and the emotional states of others’.

Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC)

AAC describes different strategies and tools that some individuals use to express themselves, besides verbally talking.  This may include using symbols, pictures, texting or high tech or low tech communication aids.


A feeling of unease, such as worry or fear. This can be mild or severe.

Find out more here


Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. Previously known as Selective Eating Disorder. A condition where the individual avoids certain foods, eating restricted amounts of food overall.

Autism/Autistic/Autistic spectrum

Autism is a neurodivergent pattern of brain development characterised by differences in social interaction, communication, with firm and set thought patterns and behaviours. Autism can also referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). These all mean the same thing. Find out more here



A state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can occur when you experience long term stress. Feeling tired or drained most of the time is a common sign of burnout.


Children's centre

Children’s centres offer support and advice to parents/carers of children up to the age of five. They aim to be a “one stop shop” bringing together a range of services that parents/carers and their children might need. Children’s centres are typically funded by local government funding.


A person who identifies as the gender that they were assigned at birth. Pronounced ‘sis’ gender.

Clinical psychologist

A qualified healthcare professional who is interested in how the brain works and its impact on behaviour. They have extensive training in understanding and assessing a range of psychological needs. They will participate in assessing individuals for Neurodevelopmental neurotypes such as ADHD or autism.


The model of locality working with children and young people in Leeds. A cluster is a group of professionals who coordinate the range of services available to families in local areas. They are often made up of school staff, health professionals, social workers, third sector partners, youth offending team, youth services, housing and other professionals.


Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

A common type of neurodivergence that affects the way that language develops; it often impacts the individuals’ skills in talking and listening. Find out more here


Language that you may hear in relation to someone’s ability to do certain things.

Difficulties: something that is challenging to accomplish, manage or understand
Disorder: when the brain has developed in a different way
Disability: A physical or mental difference that has a ‘long term’ impact on someone’s ability to do daily activities

Double empathy theory

A theory that states that when people with very different experiences of the world interact with one another, they will struggle to empathise with and understand each other. This theory proposes that communication breakdowns between autistic and non-autistic people are a two-way issue, due to both parties’ challenges in understanding the other. No one individual is ‘disordered’ or wrong


A common type of neurodivergence that affects the ability to use and acquire mathematical skills. It can also be referred to as a specific learning difficulty. Find out more here


A type of neurodivergence that affects the ability to write and often appears as difficulties with spelling, recording thoughts on paper and converting spoken language into written. It can also be referred to as a specific learning difficulty. Those with Dysgraphia are often better able to express themselves verbally than through written language.


A common type of neurodivergence that affects reading, writing and spelling ability. It can also be referred to as a specific learning difficulty. Find out more

Dyspraxia/Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder (DCD)

A type of neurodivergence that affects physical co-ordination and movement, e.g. an individual may appear to move clumsily. It is often a hidden condition. Find out more here



When someone repeats words or phrases they hear or have heard. This may, or may not, be with an intention to communicate and interact with others.

Education Health Care Plan (EHCP)

Previously known as a Statement of Special Educational Needs. It is a legal document for a child or young person aged 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities that sets out their abilities and where they may need support. It covers support for education, health and social care needs. Find out more

Educational Psychologist

A healthcare professional and trained psychologist who works with children and young people who are experiencing challenges with learning. They also work with families and educational settings to help support learning.

Emotional regulation

Is the ability to recognise, manage and respond to your emotions.

Executive Functioning

The mental skills that help us plan, prioritise and complete complex tasks, these include working memory, attention and concentration.

EYFFI: Early Years Funding For Inclusion

Early Years Funding For Inclusion
Funding for children in Early Years settings who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Find out more here



Funding For Inclusion. Money given to educational settings to provide additional support and resources, if needed, for children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities. Find out more here


Money that an organisation or government provides for a specific purpose.



The socially constructed characteristics of women, men, girls and boys. For example, the norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy.

Gender dysphoria

A sense of unease or distress that someone may experience due to conflict between their biological sex and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis given to someone who isn’t comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender fluidity

Not identifying as purely male or female but moving between the two, or as a combination of the two.

Gender identity

An individual’s own internal sense of self and their gender, perceiving themself as a woman, man, girl, boy, non-binary person or other sense of gender.

Gestalt language

When language is learnt in ‘chunks’ or phrases rather than separate words, e.g. thinking of ‘let’s go out’ as one chunk rather than recognising ‘let’s’ ‘go’ and ‘out’ as separate entities. These phrases are stored in the memory and then used when they are putting their shoes on, for example.

Gestalt perception

Understanding objects as a whole structure rather than the collective sum of its parts

Global Developmental Delay

When a child takes longer to reach certain developmental milestones than their peers.



Showing consistently high levels of active behaviour.


When a child’s reading ability is far beyond what would be expected for their age and developmental level, although they may not always understand what they are reading. They may also have a strong interest in letters or numbers. Those with Hyperlexia may find it challenging to understand spoken language and therefore interact and socialise with others differently.


When someone has very mobile joints or an unusually large range of movement in their joints. They may be ‘double-jointed’ and appear very supple and flexible


ICAN (service in Leeds)

Integrated Childrens’ Additional Needs service. Providing support to, and empowering, children and young people with additional needs and their families. Find out more here


Speaking or acting straight away without thinking.


Finding concentrating and paying attention to one particular thing very challenging; flitting between activities/conversation topics quickly. It may be that the individual is often focusing on lots of things at once and finds it challenging to know which thing to focus on at a time.

Intellectual Disability

A difference in the way that the brain developed and works; a person with an intellectual disability will find it more challenging to learn and carry out everyday tasks by themselves. An intellectual disability can also be referred to as a learning disability. Find out more here


The body sense that provides information about the internal state of the body, e.g. feeling hungry, needing the toilet, feeling excited. You can find more about interoception on our Sensory Processing page



Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service (LADS), provides autism assessments for adults (over 18s) living in Leeds, of any intellectual ability (IQ), who are registered with a Leeds GP. Find out more here

Learning Disability

A difference in the way that the brain developed and works; a person with a learning disability will find it more challenging to learn and carry out everyday tasks by themselves. A learning disability can also be referred to as an intellectual disability. Find out more

Leeds local offer

The support and provision that is available in Leeds for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families from a range of local providers, including education, health and social care. Find out more here



Acting or behaving a certain way that does not feel natural to you, in order to fit in with the social norm or expectations around you. These expectations often come from neurotypical expectations and do not easily fir in with neurodivergent communication styles or behaviour. This is a social survival strategy in which neurodivergent individuals conform to expected norms to fit in.


When someone becomes emotionally distressed due to an involuntary and intense response to an overwhelming situation or environment.


Focusing attention on a small number of interests/topic at any time, meaning that things outside of this area of focus may be missed.



Neurodivergence or a neurodivergent individual describes people whose brains have developed differently to most of the population. This is due to a natural variation in development. This includes autistic people and those with ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, developmental language disorder (DLD) and Tourette Syndrome


‘Neurodiversity’ describes the different ways that people’s brains develop. ‘Neuro’ refers to the brain and ‘diversity’ refers to differences. Every group of people has neurodiversity as all our brains are mostly very similar. However, some brains are fundamentally different; this is referred to as neurodivergent (see below)


The area of medicine concerned with the Nervous System (the brain, spinal cord and nerves).


Individuals with brain types and development that is similar to the majority of the wider population.


Objects of reference

Objects that are used to represent an activity, idea, person or event. Objects of reference can help individuals understand and prepare for new activities starting, activities ending, or something different happening.

Occupational Therapist

A healthcare professional who supports people to improve their ability to do everyday tasks, if they’re having challenges.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A mental health condition where an individual has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Find out more here



A doctor who specialises in looking after and treating infants, children and young people.


A healthcare professional who supports people who have challenges that affect their movement. They use exercise, stretches and other techniques to help increase movement and flexibility.


The sense that provides information about where the body is in space or the body’s position in its environment. You can find more about proprioception on our Sensory Processing page


QB test

A computer based activity used as part of an assessment for ADHD. Find out more here



(Emotional) regulation is the ability to recognise, respond to and manage emotions.



Self-advocacy is when someone stands up for their own rights, communicates their needs and asserts their wishes.


Special Educational Needs/Special Educational Needs and Disabilities


Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator/Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator. The member of staff in an educational setting responsible for supporting children and young people with SEND. Find out more here


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS). A free, impartial and confidential support and advice service for children and young people who have SEND and their families. Find out more here


Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Inclusion Funding (SENDIF). This is issued to educational settings to support children aged three or four years old with low level needs or emerging SEND. Find out more here


Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment and Provision team (SENSAP). SENAP are part of Leeds City Council. They are responsible for making sure that children and young people with SEND can access the right educational support and provision to achieve their potential. They are involved in creating EHCPs. You can find out more information here

Sensory hangover

The physically and mentally drained state that someone is in after having experienced an overwhelming sensory environment or situation.


Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres (SILC). Specialist schools across Leeds for children and young people with complex learning needs

Situational Mutism / Selective Mutism (SM)

The term used to refer to the social anxiety condition that affects individual’s ability to speak in certain situations or environments, but who have the ability to speak in other situations

Social hangover

The feeling of mental and physical fatigue and strain after social interactions. Often followed by a period of downtime for recovery.

Speech and Language Therapist

A healthcare professional who works with people who have challenges communicating, eating, drinking and swallowing.


Stimming, or self-stimulating behaviour, involves the repetition of certain sensory-seeking actions or vocalisations. For example, rocking, spinning, twisting your hands, or repeating words or phrases.


Theory of mind

The ability to understand someone else’s perspective and that other people may have different ideas, beliefs, understanding, emotions, thoughts and intentions to your own. Being able to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”.

Tourette’s Syndrome

A condition of the nervous system that causes people to have “tics”. Tics are sudden and involuntary movements, twitches or sounds that people do repeatedly.



The body sense that provides information about balance in relation to the body. You can find more about vestibular processing on our Sensory Processing page


Zones of regulation

An educational resource that helps development and understanding of emotional regulation.