We know the sheer volume of acronyms and terminology used within the autism community can be overwhelming, so we have created this glossary in order to support you! You’ll find it divided into sections and we will be updating it regularly. If you think one of our definitions is incorrect, please reach out to us here and let us know!
MCFD: Ministry of Children & Family Development
CYSN: Children & Youth with Support Needs (branch of MCFD)
AIS: Autism Information Services
CLBC: Community Living BC
MoH: Ministry of Health
MoE: Ministry of Education
RASP: Registry of Autism Service Providers
OT: Occupational Therapist
SLP: Speech Language Therapist
PT: Physical Therapy (Physiotherapist)
SS: Strong Start
CDC: Child Development Centre
IDP: Infant Development Program
PHN: Public Health Nurse
PCP: Primary Care Provider
BC: Behaviour Consultant
BCBA: Board Certified Behaviour Analyst
BCABA: Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst
BI: Behaviour Interventionist (implements the BC/BCBA’s intervention plan)
RBT: Registered Behaviour Technician
SD: School District
- LST: Learning Support Teacher
- RT: Resource Teacher
- EA: Education Assistant
- SEA: Special Education Assistant
DPAC: District Parents Advisory Council
PAC: Parent Advisory Council
Funding and Finances
AFU: Autism Funding Unit or AFB Autism Funding Branch
AHP: At Home Program
DFR: Direct Funded Respite
RDSP: Registered Disability Savings Plan
RESP: Registered Education Savings Plan
DTC: Disability Tax Credit
PWD: Persons with Disabilities
PSI: Personal Support Initiatives (CLBC)
IF: Individualized Funding (CLBC)
CI: Community Inclusion (CLBC)
PANTER Form: A document used by B.C.’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development and Community Living BC. A form, which must be completed by a pediatrician, neurologist, psychiatrist, or registered psychologist. This form confirms that a multidisciplinary assessment has been completed and resulted with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
Therapy and Support
ABA: Applied Behaviour Analysis
- PRT Pivotal Response Training
- DTT Discrete Trial Training
- PBS Positive Behaviour Support
- ESDM Early Start Denver Model
- DIR Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based also known as DIR/Floortime
RDI: Relationship Development Intervention
AIT: Auditory Integration Training
CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Diagnosis and Assessment
ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder
The fifth edition of the DSM was released in May 2014. In the DSM-5 the term ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) has replaced PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder). Additionally, the DSM-5 does not have any categories under ASD so all persons meeting the diagnostic criteria will fall under one autism spectrum. This means the categories of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and PDD-NOS will no longer be used—instead, the diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) will be used.
DSM-V: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
ADI–R: Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised (formally ADI Autism Diagnostic Interview)
An instrument used in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. The interview focuses on developmental delays, social interactions, language, non-verbal communication, play, understanding and expression of emotions, and on restricted, repetitive, and stereotypic behaviors and interests. It is usually used in conjunction with the ADOS (see below).
ADOS: Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule
An instrument used in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. It consists of a series of semi-structured play and social interactions with young children, and interview questions for adolescents and adults. The activities provide opportunities to observe communicative behaviors, social interactions, imaginative play, emotional expression, stereotyped behaviors, or other behaviors that are relevant to the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
BCAAN BC Autism Assessment Network
NHAN Northern Health Assessment Network
VICAN Vancouver Islands Children’s Assessment Network
Diagnosis Terms (former or outside of North America)
CDD: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder*
PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder*
PDD-NOS: Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Asperger’s: Asperger Syndrome*
RTT: Rett Syndrome
Previously listed with autism spectrum disorders, it is now known that RTT is a genetic disorder.
*now ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
APD: Auditory Processing Disorder
CAPD: Central Auditory Processing Disorder
DDL Depressive Disorder
DD: Developmental Disability
ED: Eating Disorder
GAD: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GI: Gastrointestinal Issues
LD: Learning Disability or Difference
OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
ODD: Oppositional Defiance Disorder
PDA: Pathological Demand Avoidance
TS: Tourette Syndrome
SID: Sensory Integration Disorder
SPD: Sensory Processing Disorder
GSA: Guide to Service Allocation
AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System
ABC: AutismBC (Formally the Autism Society of British Columbia ASBC)
ACT: Autism Community Training
AUC Autistics United Canada
BCCF BC Council for Families
BCPF BC People First
CASDA Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association
CLS Community Living Society
DABC Disability Alliance of BC
FSI Family Support Institute
PLAN Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network
POPARD Provincial Outreach Program for Autism Related Disorders
PAFN Pacific Autism Family Network
SPARC BC The Social Planning & Research Council of BC
AA: Actually Autistic
NT: Neuro Typical
Aspie: Used by some people with a diagnosis of Asperger’s
BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour
LGBTQ: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer or Questioning
LGBTTTQQIAA: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Transsexual Two-Spirit Queer or Questioning Intersex Asexual Ally
AFAB: Assumed Female at Birth
AMAB: Assumed Male at Birth
CW: Content Warning
TW: Trigger Warning
Ally: A person who supports an individual or group by advocating for and supporting their rights autonomy.
Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction or desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way. Demisexual, Grey-A, and Queerplatonic are all considered being on the Asexual Spectrum and can all be prefaced by hetero-, homo-, bi-, or pan- depending on romantic attraction.
Asexual Spectrum: The spectrum of sexual orientation where people may not have sexual desires or sexual attraction to others. Asexual, Demisexual, Grey-A, and Queerplatonic are all considered being on the Asexual Spectrum and can all be prefaced by hetero-, homo-, bi-, or pan- depending on romantic attraction.
Autigender: Not autism as a gender, but rather an experience of gender that is so heavily influenced by autism that one’s autism and one’s experience of gender cannot be unlinked.
Bisexual/Bi: A person is attracted to more than one gender.
Cisgender: A term used to describe someone whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned at birth.
Demisexual: A person who does not have a sexual connection to others without a deeper emotional connection or bond first. This is a type of asexual identity and may or may not have a romantic component. It can all be prefaced by hetero-, homo-, bi-, or pan- depending on romantic attraction.
Gender Binary: The normalization and belief that there are only two genders of women/girls, men/boys.
Gender Identity: How a person feels and who they know themselves to be regarding their gender. This may or may not align with their sex assigned at birth or fall into the gender binary.
Gender Expression how a person expresses themselves through appearance, dress, or behaviour. This may or may not align within traditional gender binary roles.
Gender Dysphoria When sex assigned at birth does not align with gender identity.
Grey-A Person who is not exclusively sexual or asexual. Instead, they move from having sexual feelings to being asexual during different phases of their life.
Hetero-: An attraction to people of the opposite sex.
Homo-: An attraction to people of the same sex.
Pansexual/Pan-: A person attracted to all gender identities or for whom gender is not a determining factor in their romantic or sexual attraction to others.
Sexual Identity: Components of an individual’s identity that reflect or impact their sexual self-concept.
Sexual Orientation: A person’s physical and emotional attractions towards another person, defined by who they have relationships with.
Transgender: A person whose sex assigned at birth does not align with their gender identity. They may or may not opt to take hormones or have gender affirmation surgeries. Some folx may not want to achieve a “passing” appearance as a specific gender.
Two-Spirit(2S): An Indigenous person who identifies as having a masculine and feminine spirit and is traditionally and ceremonially considered to be a third gender identity. Some Indigenous people use this term to describe their gender identity and/or orientation. Not all Indigenous LGBTQ+ people identify as being Two-Spirit.
Queer: An all-encompassing term for anyone who does not identify as cisgender or heterosexual.
Queerplatonic: A form of asexual orientation. These individuals typically have a strong emotional and/or affectionate connection that goes beyond a traditional friendship without a sexual component.
Questioning: Refers to a person who is questioning/considering their sexual orientation or gender identity.