Jargon Buster

Our staff team have compiled a list of commonly used terms that you may hear used at BeyondAutism Post-19, and included the definitions to help parents demystify the terminology.

Education: organisations and legal terminology


Department for Education.


Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.


Local Authority – an administrative body in government responsible for all the public services and facilities within an area.


Local Education Authority – responsible specifically for education.

Young adult

In education, defined as 19-25. In safeguarding terms, anyone over the age of 18 (inclusive) is defined as an adult.


In education, defined as over the age of 25. In safeguarding terms, anyone over the age of 18 (inclusive).


British Black, Asian and minority ethnics – used to refer to non-white communities in the UK.

Education: curriculum & learning levels


Essentials for Living – a functional skills curriculum, and skill tracking framework, for students with moderate to severe learning difficulties including but not limited to autism.

Safeguarding organisations, individuals and terminology


Designated Safeguarding Lead – each site of an organisation that works with young adults needs a DSL – someone to ensure that all safeguarding procedures are being followed, and to investigate in the event of any concerns.


Designated Safeguarding Person – supporting the DSL at each site there will be a number of other people who can be approached in the event of a safeguarding concern.


Local Authority Designated Officer – they are a person within the local authority whose role is to provide support and guidance for employers around any safeguarding concerns involving young adults. They can be a liaison between other organisations such as the police and Ofsted, and assist where investigations are required.

Education: Special needs


Special Education Needs – a legal term describing the needs of a young adult who has a difficulty or disability which makes it harder for them to learn than their peers.


Special Education Needs and Disabilities – when someone has a learning difficulty and a disability that means they need special health and education support.


Social Emotional and Mental Health – a certain type of special education needs where a young adult has severe difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour.


Special Education Needs Co-ordinator.


Previously called the statement, the Education Health Care Plan sets out the education, health and social needs of a young adult, and the support needed to be able to deliver it. Notably, the education aspects included within are legally binding – the local authority has a duty to provide support to meet them, whereas the health and social aspects are recommendations. 

Ed Psych

Educational Psychologist. They work within local authorities, in partnership with families and other professionals to help young adults achieve their full potential by using their training to assess difficulties a young adult may have in accessing learning.


Personal Curriculum Plan – a document, created by our schools, that provides an overview of the targets being worked on each year, mapping out key development areas and ensuring that progress keeps momentum throughout the year.


Individual Education Plan – this is a document developed for each young adult with an EHCP to outline the targets that will be worked towards each term, to ensure the EHCP is being delivered.

About Autism


Autism Spectrum Condition, alternative to ASD.


Autism Spectrum Disorder, alternative to ASC.

Stims / Stimming

Short for self-stimulatory behaviour, people do this to provide sensory input, usually of a pleasing nature. This can be a way of relaxing in stressful situations, so is a natural part of having autism. However, if the stim is self-injurious in nature, we would teach replacement behaviours.


Problem Behaviour Syndrome – an individual who exhibits behaviours that challenge, or risk-taking behaviour (e.g. drug taking). In the context of autism with complex learning difficulties, this is more around behaviour that is expressed as a result of external factors beyond their control.

Relevant associations / organisations


National Autistic Society – the largest autism charity in the UK, serving people with autism from early diagnosis right through adulthood.


Independent Parental Special Education Advice – non-profit organisation offering parents free and independent legal advice and support to get the right education for their young adult.

Scientific Methodology

(Applied Behaviour Analysis)

A method of teaching that uses the learners’ own motivation to encourage them to access their individual learning goals and targets. This method of teaching uses behaviour analysis as a way to teach/learn new skills, reduce problematic behaviours and increase socially appropriate and positive behaviours.

(Verbal Behaviour)

VB is a strand of research that analysed language as behaviour rather than as a cognitive process. It is an understanding that language is learnt and acquired like any other behaviour. It was proposed that language acquisition is determined by the way it is used (its function) rather than its form. Skinner (1957) defined the different functions of language (how we use it and why) which he called collectively Verbal Operants (please see below for further detail).



Board Certified Behaviour Analyst is a graduate-level certification in behaviour analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are practitioners who provide behaviour-analytic services. They devise programmes, interventions and supervise the delivery of these programmes.


Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst – an undergraduate level certification in behaviour analysis.


National Award for SEN Co-ordination – a statutory requirement for all SENCOs appointed new to role since 2008.

ABA Terminology and definitions


Anything that somebody does, says, thinks, or feels.


The reason why a particular behaviour may be present in a person’s repertoire. For example, what the person is trying to get/ achieve through displaying a particular behaviour.


Something that occurs in the environment or setting, which might lead to a particular behaviour occurring.


Something that changes in the environment that happens directly as a result of a specific behaviour occurring.

Reinforcement (a form of consequence)

Appropriate behaviours are rewarded with something that is motivating to the learner, and therefore increases the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again.

(a form of consequence, not aversive strategy)

Something that is added or taken away following a behaviour that decreases the likelihood that the behaviour will occur in the future.


A behaviour reduction strategy that works by identifying what reinforcement is sustaining a target behaviour and ensuring that the behaviour no longer receives that reinforcement. This may result in an initial extinction burst (see below).

Extinction Burst

A temporary increase in the frequency, intensity or duration of a particular behaviour that is no longer receiving reinforcement (see above). This may also include new behaviours that were not present before.


Pairing is used in the initial stages of teaching to associate a person, items or environments with positive experiences. This strategy is used to teach a young adult with autism that interactions with people are rewarding.

Mastered Pile

A set of cards used in intensive teaching trials (ITT) sessions consisting of all of the skills that a learner has ‘mastered’ or learnt previously.


“probed it” or “got it on the probe”

A data collection method that is carried out daily on certain target skills. It is a way of assessing whether or not teaching from the previous day was successful in teaching an individual a skill. This ensures that the skill being taught is maintained across time, settings and people.

ABC data


A data collection method that is carried out daily by Tutors on the antecedents (environmental triggers), that evoke specific behaviours and the consequences that followed the behaviours. ABC data is taken as an ongoing in-situ analysis and is used to identify patterns in the behaviours, such as when, where and why.

Verbal Behaviour terminology

Verbal Operants

Skinner defined 6 key functions of language:

Mand (to request), Tact (to label), Intraverbal (to answer questions), Echoic/Mimetic (to copy), Transcription (to write), Textual (to read a text).

(to request)

To request a desired item, activity, action or piece of information. Can be communicated through talking, signing, pictures or other behaviours e.g. pointing, pulling you towards something.

(to label)

To label anything in the immediate environment. This could include items, actions, emotions, smells, or interactions. Can be communicated through talking, signing, pictures, pulling you towards something.

(to answer questions)

To answer questions in social exchanges, engage in conversation, or filling in appropriate words from songs and phrases.

Echoic/Mimetic (to copy)

To copy back what somebody else says or does.

(to write)

To write, type or finger spell what somebody else is saying/has said.

Textual (to read)

To read text (this does not imply comprehension).

Positive Handling Techniques

Team Teach

A holistic approach to management of behaviours that challenge that involves a range of strategies mainly focused on de-escalation, prevention and safety. In situations in which physical intervention may need to be used, the measures implemented are in the best interests of the individual and are the least intrusive response appropriate.


(Speech and Language Therapy/ Therapist)

Speech and Language Therapists provide specialist therapy for individuals with communication difficulties. At BeyondAutism Schools, Speech and Language Therapists write and oversee programmes of SaLT interventions as well as working with learners to support and develop their interaction, communication, speech and language skills.

(Occupational Therapy)

Young adult’s Occupational Therapy (OT) enables them to achieve the things they want and need to do in line with their development. OTs’ use assessments to develop person-centred therapy programmes which aim to promote functional ability fine/gross motor skills and play skills.

Roles within the schools

ABA Tutor

A person who works 1:1 with a learner and is responsible for the day to day implementation of the learners’ individualised curriculum. Tutors receive on-going ABA training whilst in employment at BeyondAutism Schools.

ABA Lead Tutor A person who is an experienced ABA Tutor working within a class. They are experienced in delivering a range of programmes and can support ABA Instructors in delivering training.

ABA Instructor

The person who is responsible for delivering initial and ongoing ABA training to Tutors. They are responsible for ensuring the standard of teaching is high within their class. The ABA Instructor supports the ABA Supervisor in managing the classroom in their absence.

ABA Supervisor

The person who is the key leader within the classroom, managing staff, learners and communication between home and school. They are responsible for the overall progress within their class and for the design and implementation of behavioural programmes and procedures based on the principles of ABA and guided by continual assessments. 

ABA Consultant

Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) who oversees and supports the work of individual ABA Supervisors across the schools, providing training and supervision where required. The ABA Consultant is responsible for ensuring that the ABA teaching practice within the school enables the learners to achieve their full potential, and teaching is to the highest possible standard.

Teaching Methods

ITT (Intensive Teaching Trials)

One-to-one teaching throughout the schools is delivered using two distinct methods. The first method, intensive teaching trials, (ITT) is fast paced, repetitive table based instructions which aim to teach a variety of language skills in a highly structured setting.

NET (Natural Environment Teaching)

The second method (NET) is more loosely structured and incorporates incidental teaching opportunities in activities the learner enjoys, this ensures that learners have the opportunity to generalise skills taught using the intensive method to a natural setting.



Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to aid communication. At school when we talk about ‘Makaton’ we are usually referring to the Makaton signs. The signs are used in spoken word order and staff will use speech with the sign.

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)

PECS is an alternative communication method that involves teaching individuals who are nonverbal to exchange pictures in order to interact with others in their environment.


A signer refers to a learner whose primary method of communication is through the use of sign language. Communication for this learner within the school is taught through the use of sign language, at BeyondAutism Schools, this is Makaton signs.


A learner whose primary method of communication is through clearly pronounced vocal words. Communication for this learner within the school is taught using Echoics (see verbal operants above).

Vocal Signer

A learner whose primary method of communication is through a combination of word approximations (unclear forms of the adult word) and sign language. Communication for this learner within the school is taught using Echoics (see verbal operants above) and sign language.