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Autism Q & A

Autism Glossary

June 8th, 2021


For Everyone

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.
Government Agencies

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 

Service Providers

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 

TH: Telehealth 

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. 

 BCAANBC 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)

Co-occurring Conditions


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  

 Common Terms

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 

DABCDisability Alliance of BC   

FSIFamily Support Institute  

PLAN Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network 

POPARDProvincial Outreach Program for Autism Related Disorders  

PAFNPacific Autism Family Network 

SPARC BC The Social Planning & Research Council of BC 

Social Media

AA: Actually Autistic  

NT: Neuro Typical  

ND: Neurodiverse  

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 

LGBTQ2S+ Terminology

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. 

If you think one of our definitions is incorrect, please reach out to us here and let us know!

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