03 9657 1600



03 9639 4955


PO Box 374
Carlton South
VIC 3053


Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neuro-developmental condition which affects individuals in two main areas:

  • impaired communication and social interaction
  • restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities.

Individuals with ASD often have sensory processing issues – they may be under- or over-sensitive to any of the seven senses.


Behaviour of Concern

Student behaviour which is a barrier to participation in learning or engagement, or is a risk to the safety of the individual or those around them. Many education professionals use the term “challenging behaviour” to describe behaviour of concern.


Central Coherence

Central coherence allows people to see how different pieces of information come together to create a meaningful bigger picture. People with ASD have weak central coherence. They may focus on detail but not “join the dots” to make inferences or draw conclusions. They may have trouble connecting previous experience and prior learning with current situations. Weak central coherence makes it difficult to make generalisations or apply learning in different/new contexts.


Change Card

A visual communication tool, a change card is a symbol which is used to indicate that change is about to occur. As with any communication tool, it is important to teach students about the tool so that its use is meaningful and understood.


Communication Book

A common method of regular communication for teachers and parents/carers. A communication book travels with the student between home and school in their school bag. It is easy to keep track of a book’s location and there is a clear record of the multitude of notes which are exchanged over the space of the year.



Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition. This is a handbook that medical professionals refer to when diagnosing mental disorders and impairments. The DSM exists so that all doctors have a shared, agreed criteria for whether a person is eligible for a specific diagnosis. The fifth edition of the DSM was released in 2013. This latest version of the DSM contained changes to the criteria for diagnosing ASD.



Repetition of the words or sounds made by other people, echoing the language of others.


Executive Function

Executive function happens in the frontal lobe of the brain. Executive function involves co-ordinating several mental processes to:

  • make a plan
  • carry out a plan
  • prioritise
  • start thoughts and activities
  • stop thoughts and activities
  • think flexibly
  • work towards goals
  • self-monitor and change behaviour
  • manage time
  • maintain attention when distracted

 “Executive functions are those involved in complex cognition, such as solving novel problems, modifying behaviour in the light of new information, generating strategies or sequencing complex actions.”  Elliott, R. (2003). Executive Functions and their Disorders Imaging in Clinical Neuroscience. British Medical Bulletin, 65(1), 49-59.


Expressive communication

Using language, body language, facial expression or tone of voice to communicate a message.


Individual Learning Plan (ILP)

The Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is a working document which describes the student’s current skills and then sets out learning goals.  These goals form the basis of the student’s individual program.


Intellectual Disability (ID)

A cognitive disability where an individual has an I.Q. score of less than 70, which affects a person’s life skills (such as communication skills or problem solving). An intellectual disability may be mild, moderate or severe.


Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

This is the score that a person achieves from certain intelligence tests. 100 is considered to be an average score. 



Metacognition occurs when a person considers their own thoughts and the way that they think - it is "thinking about thinking".

Occupational Therapy (OT)

A form of therapy which aims to support and enable individuals to participate in daily activities.



The sense which makes it possible for people to perceive where the different parts of their body are in space, and how the parts of their body are moving.


Receptive communication

Understanding the language, body language, facial expression or tone of voice used by others.



An action, item or response that is provided to an individual which increases the likelihood of a particular behaviour being repeated. For example, a sticker may be reinforce a desired behaviour, or “time out” may be perceived as a pleasant break from the classroom and reinforce behaviours of concern.


School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support

School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support is an evidence-based approach to student behaviour and engagement in schools. This framework uses proactive, preventive strategies to teach and reinforce pro-social behaviour at a school-wide level, and specific, targeted approaches with particular students who require more support.


Sensory Processing

The process which occurs when an individual receives information from their senses, interprets and organises this information and responds to the information.


Social Story™

A form of text developed by Carol Gray which explains social situations in a specific way. Social Stories™ should be individualised for each unique situation.


Speech Pathologist

A professional who assesses and treats people who have difficulty with communication, or who have difficulty with eating or drinking. Speech pathologists do not only work in the area of spoken communication, but also address other forms of communication such as signs, symbols and gestures.


Student Support Group (SSG)

A group of stakeholders who meet regularly to plan for the educational experiences of a student who has additional support needs. This group usually includes parents/carers, the teacher, a representative of the principal, and other people who have useful information to contribute, such as psychologists, speech pathologists or other professionals. Where appropriate, the student may also be a member of the Student Support Group. For more information, click here.


Theory of Mind

The ability to imagine the perspective of another person. Theory of mind makes it possible to predict the reactions of others, or to draw conclusions about the reasons behind other people’s actions. People with ASD often have difficulty with developing theory of mind. People with an undeveloped theory of mind may assume that others know what they are thinking.


Transition Plan

A plan which describes the actions which will be taken to support a student to transition well from one environment/situation to another. Transition plans contain important information which assists staff supporting the student, sets out actions to be taken and describes the best proactive support strategies for the individual.


Video Modelling

A form of role modelling provided through the use of footage. This footage may be presented to the student on a range of devices. Video modelling is useful because it allows the student to watch the role-modelled behaviour numerous times. It is possible to pause the footage and ask questions or discuss different aspects of the behaviour being modelled.


Visual Schedule

A visual schedule is a concrete representation of what occurs over time. It uses simple pictures to communicate when events will occur. A good visual schedule is clear and uncluttered.