Apr 15, 2024

Autism Acronyms Every Parent & Caregiver Should Know

No need to worry! Our autism dictionary has got you covered. 


We understand—there's a lot of unfamiliar language in the autism community, including many acronyms. That's why we've created this handy acronym dictionary for your reference. You'll likely encounter these terms often as you navigate services and communicate with providers. 


By getting familiar with these terms, you'll be empowered to make the best, most informed decisions for your child. Understanding the lingo will also help you connect more effectively with clinical staff and other support professionals. We're here to support you every step of the way. 


đź’ˇ Tip: Bookmark this page for a quick reference when you need it.


1. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ABA is an evidence-based therapeutic approach rooted in the principles of learning and behaviour science. It is the most widely accepted treatment approach for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The goal of ABA is to progressively develop skills, increase helpful behaviours, and decrease harmful or interfering behaviours.  

2. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

ASD is the official diagnostic term for autism, most often used in a clinical or medical context. Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that can affect sensory processing, social communication, and and emotional and behavioural regulation.  The term “spectrum” refers to the wide variation in characteristics and support needs of each individual. 


3. Behavior Support Plan (BSP)

A BSP is a structured and individualized learning plan designed to address specific learning goals. The plan is developed collaboratively by professionals (e.g., Behaviour Analysts), along with parents or caregivers and the individual. It typically includes detailed information about the target behaviours, their function, and evidence-based interventions aimed at reducing barriers to learning and teaching new skills. The BSP outlines specific techniques, strategies and support mechanisms to help individuals with autism adapt to their environment, participate in their communities and enhance overall well-being. 

4. Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

An IEP is a written document outlining the educational program designed to meet the unique needs of a student.  IEPs are developed collaboratively by a team that typically includes parents or guardians, teachers, special education professionals and sometimes the student.  

5. Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI)

IBI refers to a comprehensive and structured approach to therapy that focuses on supporting autistic children across all learning domains. IBI is rooted in the principles of ABA.  This highly individualized therapy modality is delivered at a 1:1 staff to client ratio.  


6. Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) 

Once a child is in school, the IPRC occurs in order to: 

  • Decide an appropriate placement for the student, giving first consideration to placement in a regular class with appropriate special education programs and services and taking parental preferences into account 
  • Discuss recommendations for programs and/or services 
  • Review the identification and placement at least once in each school year 


7. Occupational Therapy (OT)

OT is the use of therapeutic interventions to address challenges and promote the development of skills necessary for daily living and participation in various activities. Occupational therapists work with individuals with autism to enhance their independence, functional abilities and quality of life. They may focus on fine motor skills, gross motor skills and coordination. This is different from physiotherapy, which mainly focuses on the patient’s ability to move their body.  

8. ​Physiotherapy (PT) 

PT involves the application of specialized interventions to address motor challenges, coordination difficulties and physical impairments that individuals with autism may experience. The goal of physiotherapy is to enhance a person's functional abilities and promote participation in daily activities and social interactions. This is different from occupational therapy, which mainly focuses on the patient’s ability to perform activities of daily living.  


9. Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)

SLP involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of communication and language delay and disorders. Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, play a crucial role in supporting individuals with autism in developing effective communication, play, and social skills 


10. Ontario Autism Program (OAP)

The OAP is a provincial program that offers support to families of children and youth on the autism spectrum. Children and youth who have been diagnosed with ASD by a qualified professional are eligible to receive services and supports until the age of 18. AccessOAP is the OAP’s Independent Intake Organization that supports everyone registered in the OAP. 

11. Special Services at Home (SSAH) 

SSAH offers essential caregiver and related support to families caring for a child with developmental and/or physical disabilities. It encompasses caregiver relief and enriching activities like camps, swimming and music classes, fostering the child's personal growth and development. 


12. Ontario Assistive Device Program (OADP) 

The OADP assists individuals with long-term physical disabilities in acquiring customized equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids. It covers 75% of the equipment cost, with applicants responsible for the remaining 25%. 


13. Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) 

The Canadian Government provides grants to RDSPs. These grants match contributions at rates of 300%, 200% or 100%, depending on the beneficiary’s adjusted family net income and the amount contributed. RDSPs can receive a maximum of $3,500 in matching grants annually and up to $70,000 over the beneficiary’s lifetime. For further details, visit the CRA website. 


13. Disability Tax Credit (DTC) 

The disability tax credit (DTC) is a nonrefundable tax credit that helps people with disabilities or their supporting family members reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. 


14. Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) 

A registered disability savings plan (RDSP) is a savings plan intended to help an individual who is approved to receive the disability tax credit (DTC) to save for their long-term financial security. 


15. Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) 

A branch of the provincial government that aims to help improve outcomes for children, youth, families and individuals who need support and advance the interests of women across Ontario. 


16. Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) 


17. Disability Tax Credit (DTC) 


We’re Here to Help

Being well-informed is the first step toward taking positive action for your child and your family. At the Geneva Centre for Autism, we’re here to help. We provide state-of-the-art clinical services for Ontario families, ensuring you have the knowledge and support you need to navigate this journey with confidence and care. 


Speak to our friendly staff