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Glossary of terms and abbreviations:

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Attention Deficit Disorder - now generally not used - see Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Adenoids are lymph glands found in the back of the nasal passage linking the nose with the throat. They are part of the bodies immune system fighting infection. Sometimes these become enlarged and cause complications, particularly otitis media (glue ear).


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


The study of the causes of an event such as a medical condition or learning disorder. (Can be spelt Etiology.)

Alcohol-related Birth Defects

Any congenital anomalies resulting from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Most typically affected are the heart, kidneys, skeleton and ears.

Alcohol-related Neurodevelopment Disorder

A condition where there is dysfunction of the Central Nervous System as a result of maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy.


Emotional numbness. Can be used to describe an individual with a personality that lacks emotional range, emotional intuitiveness and empathy towards others.

Ambivalent Attachment

Children with ambivalent attachment tend to become very distressed when parted from their parent but fail to calm down and be reassured when the parent returns. The cause is usually inconsistent parenting and/or a lack of availability of parent during the child's early develoment.


Part of the brain. It is in an older, in evolutionary terms, part that is sometimes referred to as the reptilian brain. The amygdala is concerned with survival and controls emotional responses such as fear.


Anhedonia occurs when an individual does not gain pleasure from activities that usually give pleasure.


Auditory Processing Disorder


An assessment made of new born babies to determine their health. APGAR is an bacronym for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration named after Virgina Apgar who developed the test. Each of the five areas is rated 0, 1 or 2 to give a maximum score of 10. An assessment is carried out at 1 minute, then 5 minutes after birth. A score of 3 or below is considered critically low requiring immediate action. Babies who repeatedly have low scores at 5 and 10 minutes have an increased risk of long term difficulties.


The way speech sounds are produced. Children who mis-articulate sounds usually have difficulties saying sounds such as 's', 'l', 'g', 'k' correctly in words. Articulation problems can be caused by poor listening ability, developmental delay, dental problems, or poor control of the lips and tongue.


Autistic Spectrum Condition.


Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Asperger's Syndrome

Persons with Asperger's Syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. There is generally no obvious difficulty with speech and language. However, individual's often have difficulty with communication particularly in informal and social contexts. They struggle to understand social rules and can be aware that they are different from others. They often try to be sociable but lack the social skills to achieve this. SInce 2013 Asperger Syndrome is no longer given as a diagnosis and instead children are given a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.


A theory that we are born with a basic instinct to bond with our mothers or another adult. This bond is essential to ensure that we are cared for. It is argued that a secure attachment enables babies to feel safe and confident as they begin to explore the world. Circumstances that prevent secure attachment can lead to difficulties that may persist through childhood and into adulthood.


The ability to focus on things that you see or hear. More correctly it is the necessary selection of focus for generally conscious consideration and processing from the multitude of sensory inputs or internal cognitive processes that the brain continually receives.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) find it extremely difficult to sustain their concentration and stay focussed on tasks, particularly if they are not motivated to do so. This diagnois is generally obselete and subjects are given an ADHD diagnoses with the sub-type 'mainly inattentive'.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder find it extremely difficult to sustain their concentration and stay focussed on tasks, particularly if they are not motivated to do so. They also struggle to control impulses and may act without thinking. They find waiting very difficult. Many are hyperactive and thus extremely restless and need to move around or fidgit constantly.

Attention Span

The time that a child can sustain their concentration on a task.


This is the ability to understand, anticipate and respond appropriately to another's needs. It is often used when describing the mother and baby relationship. For example, a mother who is attuned to her baby's needs will know why her child is crying and respond appropriately. This reinforces the bond between them and is crucial in attachment theory.


The sense of hearing. Our abilily to hear is influenced by both the sensitivity of the functioning of the ear and the sensory processing by the brain of the auditory signals from the ear. Individuals vary in their audioceptive processing so, for example, some individuals find busy noisy environments like school classrooms intrusive and stressful.

Audiological Test

A test for how well you can hear. It can sometimes not pick up conditions like otitis media (glue ear) which tend to fluctuate in their presentation of hearing problems.

Auditory Memory

The ability to remember things you have heard, both short-term and long-term.

Auditory Processing

The sequence of actions or steps required in order to understand and remember the sound information we hear. In order to make sense from what we hear we must be able to pay attention to a sound in the presence of background noise, discriminate between different sounds and sequence the order of what we hear making use our auditory memory to store and compare with previously experienced sounds. Finally, bringing to mind a concept, or image or idea.

Auditory Processing Disorder

A person with a dagnosed difficulty with filtering and organising sound information. See auditory processing above.

Autistic Spectrum Condition

Some people, often those with high functioning autism, believe that autism is not disfunctional for them and prefer the term condition to disorder. They recognise how many individuals with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis lead normal and successful lives and are just different from neuro-typical individuals.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

An umbrella term covering a range of conditions where a person has impairments affecting social interaction, social communication and social imagination, often referred to as the triad of impairments. More recently diagnosis has required differences in the way the individual senses the world.


A lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. (Definition: National Autistic Society).

Autobiographical Memory

Part of our long-term memory that stores significant events in our lives such as a wedding day.

Avoidant Attachment

Children with avoidant attachment tend not to seek comfort from their parents and are confident with strangers. Usually, this is a result of parents who lack emotional warmth and responsiveness.


Backward Digit Recall

The number of digits that can be remembered and then repeated in reverse order. This ability is measured as an assessment of working memory capacity.


Behaviour Emotional Social Difficulties.

Borderline Personality Disorder

A psychiatric diagnosis applied to people with patterns of unstable relationships and frequent mood changes.

Breath Holding

When a child holds their breath until they become unconscious in response to a minor accident, upset or fright.


Excessive teeth grinding or clenching.