When you find yourself in this special world, as a Special Needs parent, you will notice that there are a million and one abbreviations/acronyms!

At the beginning of our journey, I remember being too embarrassed to ask ‘umm excuse me, what does X, Y, Z mean?’ – I didn’t want to appear stupid!

On reflection, I wasn’t stupid at all and we as parents/carers should NEVER be made to feel embarrassed or stupid for asking anything.

So I have complied a list of some of the ones you may come across. It is not an exhaustive list, however I hope it helps a little.

Diagnoses and conditions

ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ARFID – Avoid Resistance Food Intake Disorder

ASD/ASC – Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Condition

GAD – Generalised Anxiety Disorder

GDD – Global Developmental Delay

GLD – Global Learning Delay

HFA – High Functioning Autism

HFASD – High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder

HI – Hearing Impaired

LD – Learning Disability

LDD – Learning Difficulties and Disabilities

MAD – Multiple Anxiety Disorder

OCD – Obsessional, Compulsive Disorder

ODD – Oppositional Defiance Disorder

PDA – Pathological Demand Avoidance

PDD-NOS – Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

PTSS/PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome/Disorder

SAD – Separation Anxiety Disorder or Social Anxiety Disorder

SEND VCB – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Violent and Challenging Behaviour

SM – Selective Mutism

SPD – Sensory Processing Disorder

VI – Visually Impaired


ASC – Adult Social Care

CAMHS – Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service

CSC – Children’s Social Care

EH – Early Help – Children’s Social Care

EIS – Early Intervention Service – CAMHS

EP – Educational Psychologist

ESBAS – Emotional, Social, Behavioural and Attendance Service

FST – Family Support Team – Children’s Social Care

OT – Occupational Therapist

SALT – Speech & Language Therapist

SS – Social Services


BESD – Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties

CAF – Common Assessment Framework

CiN – Child in Need

CoN – Continuum of Need

CP – Child Protection

CYP – Children and Young People

DX – Diagnosed

EYFS – Early Years Foundation Stage

EHCP – Education, Health and Care Plan

IEP – Individual Education Plan

LAC – Looked after Children

NT – Neurotypical

RA – Risk Assessment

SBP – School Based Plan

SEMH – Social, Emotional and Mental Health

SEND – Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

TAF – Team Around the Family

VCB – Violent and Challenging Behaviour


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