Happy Learners Glossary O-P

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Glossary of terms and abbreviations O-P

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Clinically overweight. Obsesity in children as elsewhere in our society is increasing and carries major health concerns. Obese children also have a higher risk of being bullied by peers.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Often referred to by the acronym OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder where sufferers have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions) which then leads them into repetitive behaviours that they feel driven to do (compulsions). The condition can develop in childhood and usually before the age of 30.


Oppositional Defiant Disorder


Olfacoception is our sense of smell. Individuals vary with how sensitive they perceive smells with some people finding smells overwhelming whilst others seek out strong smells. Research suggests that our sense of smell has a strong influence on our social behaviour and plays a signficant role in interpersonal attraction.


The medical name for nail biting. About a third of primary age children and nearly half of secondary age children engage in nail biting.


The sense of sight. In sensory perception and processing sight tends to command more of our attention than other senses. It also varies between and within individuals. See article on sensory needs.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

A diagnosis for individuals who demonstrate a significant pattern of behaviours including disobedience, hostility and defiance. See full article about Oppositional Defiant Disorder.


Providing lots of opportunities to practice and reinforce a task to ensure that it is understood by the child and remembered. Overlearning is most effective when done daily or for some learners several times a day over a week or two. Overlearning helps to ensure the transfer of new learning into long term memory.


A hormone that is associated with positive feelings and is important in human bonding.



Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. There is some evidence that certain conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Tourette's can be triggered in a child by Streptococcal infections.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The mechanism by which our body responds to stress by controlling heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate etc.


Pathological Demand Avoidance (Syndrome)


Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Pastoral Support Programme/Plan

A document detailing the support a child will receive to support their behaviour and emotional needs. It will detail how and by who the support will be given. It will also include targets to improve the situation. A PSP is usually done if a child is at risk of exclusion.

Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome

An anxiety disorder where sufferers are unable to comply with demands made of them. They develop a range of avoidance tactics and controlling behaviour to manage this anxiety. Behaviour is often worse at home. There is some controversy over whether the diagnosis exists or whether it is a type of autistic spectrum disorder. See full article on PDA.


Picture Exchange Communication System. A communication method mainly used with non-verbal children.

Percentile Rank

A statistical way of showing how a measurement for one individual compares to the whole population expressed as a percentage. A child on the 50th percentile for height would be the mean average for that age, whilst a child on the 5th percentile would be one of the shortest.

Perinatal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

A condition affecting mothers where they have frequent intrusive thoughts that they will harm their baby. The mother reacts to these thoughts by obsessively over protecting their child and doing everything they can to prevent themselves from harming their child. This can involve hiding anything that they could imagine hurting their child with such as knives. Mothers experiencing this do not actually harm their child but the thought that they might and the obsessively protective behaviours can be extremely debilitating. The condition is treatable with therapy and sufferers need to seek medical help.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

An umbrella term which refers to a range of conditions in which there is difficulties involving communication and socialisation. Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, Atypical Autism, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome and Rett Syndrome.

Phonological Loop

A component part of working memory responsible for processing sounds and language. (Baddeley and Hitch Model). See article on working memory.


Programme for International Student Assessment. A project by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to gather comparative data on how education systems compare in outcomes for 15 year olds.


The social aspect of language; using language for certain functions such as making requests or indicating refusal. Good understanding and use of pragmatics are essential for good social skills.

Precision Teaching

A type of intervention used in schools to target and support specific gaps in a child's knowledge such as high frequency vocabulary. It involves at least one daily short 1-1 session of 5 to 10 minutes with an adult that presents the information and assesses progress each week. The weekly assessment measures how accurately and fluently the child can correctly identify or recall their learning in a fixed time usually 30 seconds or a minute. A high rate of accurate fluency is then considered evidence that the learning has become embedded. Once this is achieved new information is introduced for the following week's focus. Precision teaching often works well for vocabulary learning or simple mathematical concepts such as number bonds or multiplication facts.


This is our ability to sense where our body and its parts are in space. E.g. knowing where your hand is with your eyes closed. We are rarely conscious of this sense but it essential in all movement and maintaining balance. Individuals vary in how strong they perceive and process proprioceptive signals. For example some people find sitting still difficult and move frequently to help boost the signal and help them balance. See article on sensory needs.


Face blindness - the inability to recognise people's faces. This is a spectrum condition with some people only mildly affected and not able to recognise casual acquantances. More severely affected individuals may struggle to recognise close friends and family. Prosopagnosia can be acquired through brain injury whilst many others have the condition from birth.

Provision Map

A document recording what additional support and resources are being given to meet the Special Educational Needs of a child.

P Scales

This is a series of levelled assessment criteria for use on pupils with delayed learning who are working below the levels of the UK National Curriculum. They start at 1 and go up to 8 and are used to get a more accurate assessment of attainment and progress.


Pastoral Support Programme/Plan.