Navigating through a student’s individualized education program documents can be a bit overwhelming. Even reading a website about a learning disability or news article on the topic of special education can contain a lot of vocabulary or acronyms that are not part of everyday conversation. Here are a couple of the most commonly used acronyms that you might find.
AT – Assistive Technology
When most first read or hear this term, computers with special personalized software might come to mind, but assistive technology (AT) is actually a term used to describe a lot of things. It’s any object that is used to assist a child to maintain or improve their ability. It is also a term used to describe objects that increase functional capabilities. This means that AT is more of an umbrella term that includes objects like pencil grips, grid paper, highlighting tape, audio books and the like and not just high tech items.
RTI – Response-to-intervention
This is a fairly recent term that is used in education and can probably best be described as a universal screening that schools use to monitor progress and identify as early as possible if any student may need extra help or services. In a general education setting, reached based methods of instruction and assessment are used to determine if any students in the classroom might have difficulties in a given area of learning. If a student is identified as having some difficulties, then a short term intervention is developed in which the student receives researched based intervention strategies of instruction and is monitored more frequently (often weekly) to ensure growth. If the student’s learning does not respond well to this first intervention, one more intense intervention occurs. During this more intense intervention, the student receives individualized instruction for longer periods of time and is still monitored frequently. An RTI often occurs before further referrals are made for more extensive services, including those most commonly associated with traditional special education services.