Glossary

Speech Therapy Terms
  • Apraxia of speech – a specific speech sound disorder characterized by difficulty controlling and coordinating the movements needed to make speech sounds (despite normal muscle functioning and strength); the ability to say words or make speech sounds is inconsistent. Apraxia is sometimes called verbal apraxia, developmental apraxia of speech, or verbal dyspraxia.
  • Articulation Disorder – difficulty correctly producing speech sounds (phonemes)
  • Alternative/Augmentative Communication (AAC) – a substitute or supplemental tool used for communication by individuals with absent or limited speech. AAC may include American Sign Language, communication boards with photos, or symbols or electronic devices.
  • Auditory Processing Disorder – difficulty in how the central nervous system (CNS) uses auditory information; a problem with how the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, most notably the sounds composing speech.
  • Backing – when sounds that should be made at the front of the mouth (such as ‘t’) are made at the back instead; an example would be saying ‘key’ for ‘tea.’
  • Cluster Reduction – when two consonants at the beginning of a word are reduced to just one (e.g., saying ‘sand’ instead of ‘stand’)
  • Dysarthria – when muscle weakness affects speech production, leaving it sounding slurred, flat, nasal or jerky in rhythm. Dysarthria occurs as a result of brain or nerve damage.
  • Dysfluency (or stuttering) – When the smooth flow of speech is interrupted. Dysfluency may occur by repetition of whole words, repetition of a single sound, prolonging of sounds, or blocking, where the mouth is open but no sound comes out. Facial tension may be present and occasionally extra body movements may occur.
  • Dysphagia – difficulty swallowing
  • Expressive Language – the area of language skills related to communicating information to others. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of gestures, verbal communication, and use of AAC to convey wants, thoughts, feelings, personal events, and respond to questions.
  • Fronting – When sounds that should be made at the back of the mouth are made at the front (e.g. ‘tea’ instead of ‘key’ or ‘tar’ instead of ‘car’)
  • Phonological Process – difficulty selecting and using the correct sounds necessary for speech; difficulties can be characterized dependent on where or how the sound is made, but are typically presented in a pattern. See backing, fronting, stopping, and cluster reduction for more information.
  • Pragmatic Language – The area of language skills related to social use of language/ communication. This includes, but is not limited to, non-verbal communication (body language), inferencing, problem solving, conversation skills, functions of language, and negotiation.
  • Receptive Language – the area of language skills related to comprehension of language. This may include, but is not limited to, identification of familiar items, following directions, auditory comprehension of orally presented stories.
  • Stopping – when long sounds come out as short ones (e.g., ‘sand’ comes out as ‘dand’ or ‘socks’ come out as ‘docks’)
  • Syntax/Morphology – the area of language skills related to grammar and the order of words when formulating phrases/ sentences.
  • Vocal Nodule – a callous-like growth that is non-cancerous and grows on the inner part of the vocal folds, caused by vocal misuse or abuse.
Occupational Therapy Terms
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – encompass the basic skills needed to take care of one’s own body, such as bathing/showering, toileting, dressing, eating/self-feeding, personal grooming & hygiene
  • Bilateral Coordination – refers to the ability to utilize right and left sides of the body together in a smooth and efficient manner
  • Education – encompasses the activities needed for learning and participating in the educational environment
  • Executive Functioning – set of mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions and perform multiple tasks successfully in order to achieve a goal
  • Fine Motor Skills – actions of the hands, wrists and arms, including dexterity, coordination, strength and control
  • Gross Motor Skills – encompass the abilities required to control the large muscles of the body
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) – involve activities to support daily life within the home and community environment that often require more complex interactions than those used in ADLs, such as health management & maintenance, home management, meal preparation & cleanup
  • Leisure Activities – encompass nonobligatory activities that are intrinsically motivated and engaged in during times when the individual is not engaging in work, self-care, or sleep
  • Play – refers to any spontaneous or organized activity that provides enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, or diversion, including both play exploration and participation
  • Praxis – refers to the brain’s ability to organize sensory information in order to plan and carry out new motor skills with ease and accuracy
  • Rest and Sleep – involves habits and routines related to obtaining restorative rest and sleep to support healthy, active engagement in other occupations
  • Sensory Processing/Regulation – the neurological process that organizes sensations from one’s own body and the environment, thus making it possible to use the body effectively within the environment
  • Social Participation – includes involvement in community, family, or peer-based activities that involve social situations with others
  • Visual Motor Skills – ability to coordinate motor movements in response to what is being seen
  • Visual Perceptual – ability to organize and interpret information that is seen and give it meaning
Physical Therapy Terms
  • Adaptive equipment: specialized devices used to assist with activities of daily living
  • Ambulate: to walk from one place to another
  • Balance: the ability to maintain a posture while standing, walking, or reaching
  • Base of support: the weight-bearing surface of the body; for example: in standing, the feet
  • Bilateral: pertaining to two sides of the body, as in: both arms or both legs
  • Cervical: pertaining to the neck
  • Coordination: the ability of several muscles or muscle groups to work together harmoniously to perform movements
  • Core: pertaining to the trunk of the body (primarily abdominals and back)
  • Dissociation: to separate; for example: one extremity/limb performs a movement without the other extremity doing the same or similar movement at the same time
  • Extension: a straightening or backward movement of the spine or limbs
  • External rotation: an outward turning of the limb away from the midline of the body
  • Flexion: a bending or forward movement of the spine or limbs
  • Functional mobility: a person’s ability to move around his or her environment
  • Gait: a manner of walking on foot
  • Gross motor: refers to movements of large muscle groups
  • Hyperextension: excessive movement in the direction of extension
  • Internal rotation: an inward turning of the limb toward the midline of body
  • Lumbar: pertaining to the low back
  • Midline: the theoretical lines that divide the body into two equal halves vertically or horizontally
  • Motor control: The ability of the central cervous system to regulate or direct the musculoskeletal system in a purposeful act
  • Motor planning: the ability to organize and perform movement in a meaningful manner
  • Muscle length: the maximum extensibility of a muscle-tendon unit. Muscle length, in conjunction with joint and soft tissue extensibility, determines flexibility.
  • Muscle tone: a muscle’s resistance to passive stretch during resting state
  • Muscular endurance: is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time
  • Orthotics: devices used to support, align, prevent, or correct the function of movable parts of the body
  • Postural control: the ability to manage the body’s position in relation to task
  • Proprioception: the awareness of posture, movement, changes in equilibrium, and the knowledge of position, weight, and resistance of objects in relation to the body; sensed by muscles, tendons, and soft tissue
  • Range of motion: A measure of the amount of movement/motion available at any given joint of the body
  • Reflex: an involuntary/automatic response to a stimulus
  • Stability: the ability to maintain control of joint movement or position against gravity
  • Strength: a measure of muscle force generation
  • Symmetrical: referring to symmetry of the body, whose right and left halves are mirror images of each other
  • Unilateral: affecting or occurring on only one side of the body
  • Weight shift: translation or movement of body weight from one side to another, forward or back