This page is designed to give a brief meaning (in layman terms) of words and phrases most commonly used by caregivers. When available, I will add a link to that word/phrase that will give a more indepth description and resources.

This page will continually be "under contruction" and I will add to it as time permits. If you would like to contribute terminology, your help will be much appreciated. If you have any questions regarding words/phrases you have heard I will try my hardest to get them answered.
Email: definitions@fosterparents.com



  1. Attachment Disorder - Superficially engaging and charming; lack of eye ontact; indiscriminate affectionate with strangers; not cuddly to parents; destructive to self, others, animals and material things; lying; stealing; impulsive; no conscience; poor interaction with peers; sexual acting out; preoccupation with fire; incessant chatter. Attachment Disorder Help and Catalog of Reference Books
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - Excessive daydreaming, lethargic, processing problems, excessive confusion, shy, rarely impulsive or disruptive. ADD
  3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Inability to concentrate, implusive, disruptive, non-compliant. This is a common malady for children prenatally exposed to drugs. **Medications given to aid this disorder can cause visual impairment. Children requiring such meds should have an eye exam. ADHD
  4. CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocate - specially trained volunteers who advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the courts. National CASA Association
  5. CSW - Children's Social Worker.
  6. DCFS - Department of Children & Family Services.
  7. DHS - Department of Health Services.
  8. Down Syndrome - Mild to moderate mental retardation due to a chromosomal (21) disorder; normally very loving, friendly and responsive. Down Syndrome
  9. Dyslexic - A learning disorder which can include reversal of letters and words, poor writing skills, pooor handwriting, memory difficulties, left and right orientation, clumsiness; does not affect intelligence.. Only a trained professional, i.e. psychologist, specializing in learning disabilities should offer this diagnosis. Dyslexia
  10. FAPE - Free Appropriate Public Education - Specially designed instructions and related services, at no expense to parent/guardian, for children with learning disorders, this includes ADD/ADHD. FAPE
  11. Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) - Prenatally exposed to alcohol but not displaying all the symptoms of FAS.FAE
  12. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) - A pattern of abnormalities in children prenatally exposed to alcohol. This a term commonly echoed in the world of foster parenting. It is the leading cause of mental retardation, the most preventable, effects irreversible. FAS, recognized only in the past 20 years, can be traced back to the bible. Some characteristics: low weight; dysmorphic facial features i.e. flattened midface, epicanthal folds, flat philtrum, low set ears, ear deformity, thin and red in color upper lip; microcephaly; developmental delays; intellectual impairment; attention disorders; motor problems; hyperactivity. FAS
  13. Hypertonic - High muscles tone, stiff, celebral palsy like; false sense of strength.
  14. Hypotonic - Low muscles tone, floppy, flexible limbs, may not be able to support body.
  15. Independent Living Program (ILP)Federally funded program providing services to foster youth age 16 and over to prepare for adulthood. This program provides classes in life skills, vocational training, and equipment needed for job training. ILP also provides: funds for college scholarships; Job Fairs and contracts with agencies in the community to provide skills training.
  16. Individualized Education Plan (IEP) - Federal Law 94 -142 states that children with disabilities have the right to attend public schools with their peers. A team of school staff and parent(s) will identify areas the child needs to learn in the current school year and how the school will provide these services.
  17. Kinship - Those providing 24 hour care for children they are related to by blood. This is also called "relative placement". Children may be placed in homes of relatives by the courts or voluntarily by parent or guardian.Kinship
  18. Learning disabled (LD) - A term used to describe one with a handicap that interferes with ability to process, store or produce infomation. LD
  19. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - an educational setting in which a learning disabled student can effectively learn based on needs and capabilities while in a regular classroom with non-disabled peers.
  20. Microcephalic - An abnormally small head.
  21. OHI - Other Health Impairment - health conditions not necessarily associated with learning disabilities but can hinder learning do to illness, i.e. asthma.
  22. Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Often loses temper; often argues with adults; often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult's requests or rules; deliberately annoys people; blames others for his/her mistakes; angry and resentful; spiteful. Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  23. Orally Defensive - Sensitivity to eating utencils; food, especially food with consistency; tooth brushing; not uncommon for infants prenatally exposed to substance abuse.
  24. Prenatally exposed to substance abuse - Refers to one whose mother used drugs and or alcohol during pregnancy.
  25. Related services - are transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other suportive services required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education..
  26. Special education - is instruction that is specially designed, at no cost to the parents or legal guardians, to meet the child's or youth's unique needs.
  27. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) - Also known as "crib death". Sudden unexpected death of otherwise healthy infant; infant will stop breathing during sleep; usually under the age of one year; cause of death remains an enigma through medical history and autopsy exam. In recent studies, it has observed, children put to bed on their backs lessen their risk of death; it has also been suggested cigarette smoke may play a role. References to SIDS go as far back as 950 B.C. SIDS
  28. Swaddling - To wrap an infant with a blanket so their arms and legs cannot flail. This helps to prevent substance exposed infants from over stimulating.
  29. Tactually Defensive - Sensitive to human touch and/or material objects; not uncommon for infants prenatally exposed to substance abuse or autistism/Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

 

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