Common Therapy Terms


Ankle-foot orthotic (AFO)

An ankle-foot orthotic is a plastic splint that is used to support the foot to put it in the correct position for walking. 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy based on the science of learning and behavior. Behavior analysis helps us to understand how behavior works, how behavior is affected by the environment, and how learning takes place. ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behavior works to real situations. The goal is to increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or affect learning. 

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

 AAC is a method that uses symbols to aid in communication. It can be a simple system or a complex digital device. 


Authorization is plan-specific, and it depends on the insurance company. Some insurance companies require that they authorize therapy visits. Authorization is not required for evaluations. 


Bedside Swallow

A bedside swallow is a test designed to observe and assess a person’s ability to appropriately swallow foods of various textures and drinks.  

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is A Behavior Intervention Plan is a kind of roadmap that can be used by professionals and parents to help reduce problem behavior, especially in children with behavioral disorders, like autism. It is a blueprint for professionals and parents to follow to help reduce challenging behaviors by keeping everyone who interacts with the learner on the same page when it comes to behavior strategy.

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. Professionals certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services.



 COTA stands for Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. A COTA is someone that could work to support an occupational therapist.  



 A deductible is a set amount determined by the insurance company that the policy-holder must pay before insurance covers begins.  


The diagnosis is determined by a licensed profession, within their respective field. It is used to help determine the strengths and weaknesses of a person to guide the support offered through therapy.  


Dietetics is the science of applying nutritional concepts to diet to improve health and well-being.  


 A dietitian is a certified health professional that specializes in dietary and nutritional needs to improve health and well-being.    


Early Intervention (EI)

Early Intervention is used to describe the therapy services that are available to babies or young children with some sort of delay or disability.      

Expressive Language

Expressive language is the way that a person uses words to respond, either via written or spoken language. 



 The frenulum is a connective tissue underneath the tongue (lingual) and/or lip (labial) that can support or impair functional movements.    



 A goal is a level of achievement that the clients work towards with the therapist in a specified area to improve their quality of life.      



 Hand-over-hand is a technique where the therapist places their hand on the child’s hand to provide support for the child to complete a specified task.


 Hypertonia means excessive muscle tone. 


 Hypotonia means low muscle tone. 


ICD-10 code

International Classification of Diseases-10 is a system used by healthcare providers and other service providers to classify and code different diagnoses.

In network

 In network indicates that the location is a preferred provider associated with your insurance company.   

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

 An IEP is a written legal contract made between the family and school-based professionals about services needed to help the student be successful at school.  

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

 An IFSP is a written legal contract designed to provide the supports that a child who is delayed needs in order to help them catch up.  


Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

 A Licensed Professional Counselor is someone who is licensed by the state they are practicing in to provide mental health services.   



Mand might be the most common and most taught operant in ABA. A mand is simply a request made by the speaker. When you ask to have your wants or needs met, you are engaging in a mand.

Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI)

Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI) is a technique that assesses dysfunctional primary motor reflexes and a treatment based on a series of repeated basic and variant exercises.

Medically necessary or medical necessity

Medically necessary or medical necessity indicate that the services provided are ones that a physician with good judgment would provide a patient. 

Missouri First Steps

 An Early Intervention system for infants and toddlers, birth to age 3, who have delayed development or diagnosed conditions that are associated with developmental disabilities. First Steps offers coordinated services and assistance to young children with special needs and their families.   

Motor Coordination

Motor coordination is the ability of the brain to organize muscle movements to work together in a coherent fashion to support posture. 

Motor Planning

Motor planning is the cognitive process of organizing the necessary steps to carry out a specific action before transmitting this message to the relevant parts of the body. 

Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy is an exercise-based therapy designed to strengthen, stretch, or adapt muscles to improve their functional use.  



Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities. Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.


Occupational therapist (OT)

Myofunctional therapy is an exercise-based therapy designed to strengthen, stretch, or adapt muscles to improve their functional use.  

Occupational therapy

Myofunctional therapy is an exercise-based therapy designed to strengthen, stretch, or adapt muscles to improve their functional use.  



 Peer-to-peer is a process that can be initiated by anyone on the patient’s team (i.e., ST, PT, OT, PCM) when services have been denied by insurance. This is a step taken to avoid an appeal. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy uses therapy to preserve, enhance, or restore movement and physical function.

Preferred Provider

A preferred provider is a company that an insurance company has a contract with so they can provide discounted services. 

Primary Insurance

 Primary insurance is the insurance company that pays first for a claim. 

Progress note

A progress note is the documented way that a therapist treats the patient’s current levels in the different areas targeted by goals.  


 A prompt is a way that a therapist provides support to a person to help guide them to a correct response. Prompts can be visual, verbal, or tactile.  


PTA stands for Physical Therapy Assistant. The Physical Therapy Assistant will work under the supervision of the physical therapist to provide services as needed.  


Receptive Language

Receptive language refers to the ability of a person to understand language, either by listening or reading. 

Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)

Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional who is part of a broader care team for individuals with autism. RBTs are certified to provide direct, one-on-one therapy to children with autism using applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy). This type of care aims to help children build the skills and independence that will set them up for a lifetime of possibilities.


A referral is when someone requests an assessment or services from a different profession or field. The referral is the request to the other professional to initiate the process.  


Regulated is when a person’s sensory needs are balanced, so the person is not overwhelmed or upset.  



The script is a directive from a physician related to the therapy services that a particular patient should receive for a specific condition or diagnosis.   

Secondary Insurance

Secondary insurance is the insurance company that pays following the primary insurance company.   

Sensory integration

Sensory integration describes the process of the brain taking in information through the different senses and organizing the information and responding appropriately. 

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) or Speech Therapist (ST)

An SLP or ST is a licensed professional that provides services for speech, language, or swallowing  difficulties.   

Supra Malleolar Orthotics (SMO)

The SMO is the smaller shoe that helps stabilize the ankle to prevent the arch from collapsing. 


Tongue tie/Ankyloglossia

A tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition at birth where the frenulum limits the movement of the tongue, which can create difficulty swallowing or speaking. 


Visit Limit

Depending on the insurance company, a certain number of visits are authorized. The visit limit is the number of visits that are allowed, or the annual visit. 

Visual Schedule

A visual schedule is a tool used with a person to provide a way for them to visually understand a sequence of steps or tasks to be done.  


Within Normal Limits (WNL)

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