Glossary Q-T

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Glossary of terms and abbreviations:




Qualitative Data

Qualatative data is obtained from observations, case studies and other non-statistical means.

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data is obtained by performing mathematical or statistical calculations such as counting the frequency of an event or behaviour.




Reactive Attachment Disorder


Reticular Activation System


Reward Deficiency Syndrome

Reactive Attachment Disorder

A condition where the child displays very inappropriate behaviour toward others as a result of early childhood difficulties with forming an attachment to a primary care giver. Also see article on attachment.

Receptive Language

A term to cover the physical, mental and behavioural processes involved in understanding what is being communicated to us by others. It is the input side to language acquisition and crucial to learning. You may also be interested in the article on receptive language milestones.

Receptive Vocabulary

All the words that a person recognises and has learnt the meaning of.


A capacity to overcome difficulties and challenges. In social and emotional terms it is specifically the ability to maintain good mental health when faced with upsetting or traumatic events.

Reticular Activation System

An area of the brain and spinal cord responsible for processing and filtering sensory information and determing what we apply our attention to.


Rett Syndrome

A rare mutation of the X chromosome causing significant global developmental difficulties. It is generally only seen in girls as males don't survive to birth with the condition.

Reward Deficiency Syndrome

Individuals with Reward Deficiency Syndrome have differences in the reward systems of their brains meaning that they do not experience the feeling of being satisfied following a pleasant activity. This leads them to crave more of the activity or more extreme experiences to get the same sense of reward as others. Reward Deficiency Syndrome is theorised to account for addictive behaviours and risk taking.

Rhythmic Movement Disorder

A neurological condition where a child has involuntary repetitive muscle movements immediately before and during sleep. Usually affects the head and neck but can involve other parts of the body. Can cause disturbed sleep patterns leading to day time tiredness. Many sufferers also have sleep apnoea.


Rhythmic Movement Disorder





Speech And Language Therapy


This is a complex emotion where we experience a sense of joy or satisfaction at the slight misfortune or mistakes of others. It is particularly so when the other person is in the envious position or high status.

Selective Mutism

A condition usually caused by anxiety where the child is unwilling to talk in certain social situations; with certain people or about certain topics. See article on selective mutism

Semantic memory

A component of long term memory, specifically part of declarative memory, and is concerned with remembering facts and knowledge. This is the part of memory used to store learning of information and concepts e.g. when water freezes it becomes less dense and floats on liquid water.


The understanding of the meaning of words, phrases and sentences. It also includes bits of words such as prefixes and suffixes.

Semantic Pragmatic Disorder

Children with Semantic Pragmatic Disorder (SPD) experience great difficulty understanding the non-literal and social meaning of language. Social communication is laden with metaphor, irony and sarcasm that those with SPD struggle to interpret leading to frequent misunderstanding of the implied meaning of the speaker. Many consider SPD to be a sub-group within the umbrella term of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.


Special Educational Needs


Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

Sensory Integration Disorder

A neurological condition whereby the sufferer processes sensory stimulus in ways that are different to normal. It is also known as Sensory Processing Disorder. See article on Sensory Needs for more information.

Sensory Processing Disorder

A neurological condition whereby the sufferer processes sensory stimulus in ways that are different to normal. People affected may experience hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to one or more of their senses. It is also known as Sensory Integration Disorder.


A neurotransmitter that is associated with positive feelings.

Slant Board

A slant board is a flat surface, usually made of wood or plastic, placed on a table or desk to create a tilted writing surface facing the child by about 20 to 40 degrees. They can help to make it easier to write and draw for anyone but are particularly used for those with poor fine motor control.


Severe Learning Difficulty

Severe Learning Difficulty

An individual with SLD will have global difficulties impacting on their ability to look after themselves, communicate and acquire basic skills and knowledge.


Sensory Integration Disorder or Dysfunction


The ability to see. Our sight enables to recognise, shape, colour and texture by interpreting the light coming from or reflected by the object. See also ophthalmoception.


The ability to sense the presence of aromas, fragrances and odours in the air. See also gustaoception.

Social Skills

The skills necessary to interpret, process and respond appropriately in interactions with others in a range of situations. These skills enable a child to make friends, understand and join in games and respond Social skills development is dependent on language development.

Social Stories

Social stories are short narratives designed to help children remember desired behaviours. They describe the child following a sequence of correct behaviours. Sometimes they list strategies to avoid conflict or other unwanted behaviours and consequences.

Soundfield System

A set of speakers arranged in a classroom so that the teacher can be heard equally around the room; even when talking normally. (See full article)


Sensory Processing Disorder

Special Educational Needs

Where a child requires support with learning that is additional to what is normally provided for children of their age they are deemed to have Special Educational Needs.


A sensory seeking behaviour characterised by frquently repeated movements or sounds. It is often seen in individuals with autism but can be present in other developmental conditions.

Sympathetic Nervous System

The Sympathetic Nervous System is responsible for the changes in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing that take place when we experience fear or anxiety.


A condition where the senses are mixed up so that the person experiences a sensory input with another sense. For example, an individual might perceive music as colours or a smell as a tactile sensation.




Teaching Assistant


A teratogen is a substance that can interfere with the normal development of a foetus leading to permanent damage. Common examples are alcohol, tobacco, medical or recreational drugs as well as other environmental hazards such as lead.


A hormone, often referred to as the male hormone because it tends to be measured in larger quantities in men. It is linked to sexual desire and aggressive behaviour though it also has other regulatory functions in the body.

Theory of Mind

Theory of Mind is the name given to our ability to understand that another person can have a different perspective, perception or understanding to ourselves. Also see article on ASD.


This is our ability to monitor and sense our body temperature. Our bodies function within a narrow range of body temperature. We can sense when we are getting too hot and cold and take some action e.g. putting on a coat when cold or taking off a top when hot. We are rarely conscious of this sense but it has an obvious influence on our behaviour. Normal body temperature varies within and between individuals.


A child aged between 1 and 3 years of age.

Tourette Syndrome

A condition in which the individual displays involuntary movement and vocal tics. Anxiety and obsessive thoughts can also feature. Symptoms in children often subside after adolescence though for some individuals it is a life long condition. See article on Tourette's.

Triad of Impairments

The triad of impairments refers to three areas of difficulty experienced by individuals on the autistic spectrum. They include Social Communication, Social Interaction and Flexibility of Thought. Also see article on ASD.


Trichotillomania is the medical name for pulling out your own hair. The majority of children with this do this absentmindedly and it is usually hair from the scalp. However, other areas such as eyebrows, eyelashes and in adolescents pubic areas may also be affected. Rarely, removed hair may be ingested.


Tryptophan is an amino acid found in a range of foods such as eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, meat and fish. It is used by the body to make important neurochemicals including seratonin and melatonin. Trytophan can also be created by bacteria in the intestines.


Tourette Syndrome