Every type of service and profession has its own vocabulary.  Human services, specifically services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is no exception.  At New Jersey MENTOR we feel it is important to provide individuals, families and staff with a common understanding of the basic terms we use when delivering services for the children and adults we support.

Below you'll find a list of common terms we use.  If you’re ever unclear about the services and supports we provide, ask us!  In addition to helping families understand how we support their loved ones, we want to promote a supportive culture of open communication and continuous feedback.

Modification (i.e. ramps, braille signs, etc.) of buildings, curbs, and other physical structures to allow easy movement and admittance by a person with a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandates accessibility to all public and private facilities.

Activities of daily living (ADL)
Life’s daily tasks and responsibilities. They encompass a broad range of activities including personal hygiene, preparing meals, managing household chores, etc.

Parents, family members, staff, friends, organizations or volunteers working on behalf of the rights and interests of others (such as people with developmental disabilities or at-risk youth).

An individual’s ability to walk on their own or with assistance from a walker, cane, etc.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This comprehensive federal civil rights law makes it unlawful to discriminate in private sector employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in state and local government services, housing, employment, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunication.

Asperger Syndrome or Disorder
A developmental disorder characterized by a lack of social skills, impaired social relationships, poor coordination and poor concentration. Children with Asperger Disorder have average to above average intelligence and adequate language skills in the areas of vocabulary and grammar, but they may not understand the subtleties used in conversation such as irony and humor.

Tools that are used to find an individual’s unique strengths and needs.

A developmental disorder significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social relationships, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (C.A.R.F.)
A private, nonprofit organization that establishes standards of quality for services to people with disabilities. Adherence to these standards is then measured through an on-site review of the organization. CARF is the nationally recognized accrediting authority whose sole concern is to promote quality services for people with disabilities.

Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Conditions which exhibit spasticity, weakness, lack of coordination or any other motor challenges. These include sensory and/or movement disorders, seizures, learning disabilities and behavior challenges.

Community Care Waiver (CCW)
The Medicaid Community Care Waiver (CCW) is a program for individuals with developmental disabilities that pays for the services and supports they need in order to live in the community. The CCW is funded by the state, with assistance from the federal government’s Medicaid program.

Person-Directed Supports
Support services under the control of the individual receiving services.

Day Programs/Services
This is a general term used to describe the programs and activities that individuals participate in for up to 25 to 35 hours per week. Day services allow individuals to remain active outside their home and develop social relationships with others. They also provide families and caregivers with time to pursue their own interests and activities, including a job.

Developmental Centers
Seven residential facilities throughout New Jersey which are home to approximately 2,700 individuals. Residents have intensive needs related to their developmental disabilities, and many also have co-occurring mental health, behavioral and/or medical needs.

Developmental Delay
Being behind other children of the same age in achieving cognitive, adaptive, physical, and social skills.

Developmental Disabilities
Intellectual (developmental) disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.

The movement of individuals out of large residential facilities into smaller, more individualized settings.

Direct Service Professional (DSP)
Caring service professionals paid to support individuals with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings.

Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD)
A New Jersey State agency within the Department of Human Services (DHS). It is the lead provider of services to assist people with developmental disabilities. The Division offers family support, community services, case management, residential and day programs, and guardianship.

Brief, temporary changes in the normal functioning of the brain's electrical system. Also known as seizures.

Essential Living Plan (ELP)
A written plan designed to identify the total needs of a person receiving services and the services required to meet those needs. Also referred to as the Individualized Habilitation Plan.

Family Support Services
Family Support services are intended to help support uncompensated caregivers for individuals who are eligible for DDD-funded services and living in their own homes.

Gastrostomy Tube (G-tube)
A tube which has been surgically inserted into the stomach through the abdominal wall, or a tube which has been inserted through the nasal passage into the stomach, or both.

Broad, general target areas of development written by an individual’s service planning team in collaboration with family members, medical professionals and other resources as necessary.

Group Home /Community Living Residences
A small home in the community shared by individuals who receive guidance and personalized training from full-time staff.

A person or agency appointed by a court to make personal decisions for a person who is incapable of making the decisions independently. Relatives, parents, friends, or certain agencies (i.e. PLAN/NJ) can be appointed guardians by the courts.

The process by which a person with developmental disabilities is assisted in acquiring and maintaining life skills to 1) cope more effectively with personal and developmental demands, and 2) to increase the level of physical, mental, vocational and social ability through services.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Requires improved efficiency in healthcare delivery by standardizing electronic data interchange, and protection of confidentiality and security of health data through setting and enforcing standards.

Host Home
Non-licensed private residential setting that provides residential supports. The host home must be the primary residence of the provider. Host Home Provider (HHP) An individual or individuals who provide supports to someone not related to them in his or her home.

Intellectual (developmental) Disability
Intellectual (developmental) disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.

Interdisciplinary Team
The team of people who develop the Individualized Plan (IP). Members of the team include the person applying for or receiving services, his or her parents, guardian, medical professionals, service provider, case manager and others who can help identify the person's needs and appropriate programs. Inclusion To have the opportunity to participate in all activities available in a community; for example, education in a traditional classroom.

Independent Living
When an individual, formerly receiving residential services or living in a family home, now lives independently. Or a residential situation in which a person with disabilities lives by him or herself with limited assistance from others.

Individualized Habilitation Plan (IHP)
A written plan designed to identify the total needs of a person receiving services and the services required to meet those needs. Also referred to as the Essential Living Plan.

Activities performed by a trained staff member and resource coordinator to determine eligibility and necessary services. Includes gathering information to start a person in a meaningful program of services.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The most productive environment for an individual in which to address his or her needs. Such placement should range along a continuum of services and can include a range of residential options or supportive living services. LPN Licensed Practical Nurse.

Multidisciplinary Team
A team comprised of a child’s parents and professionals from various disciplines responsible for evaluating and reevaluating children thought to be eligible for early intervention services.

A funding source authorized under Title XIX of the Social Security Act that provides health care assistance to qualified individuals. The program is funded by both federal and state money, but is administered by the state.

A federal health insurance program run by the Health Care Financing Administration that includes both hospital and medical insurance.

Masters in Social Work

Natural Supports
Supports and resources provided in the community by family, friends, neighbors, and others who are not paid to provide such supports.

Occupational Therapy (OT)
A special therapy that uses work, play and ordinary daily activities to help people become more independent and develop skills to help them live more satisfying lives.

Olmstead Decision
Supreme Court decision affirming the right of individuals with disabilities to live in their community.

Result or end point of care or status achieved by a defined point following delivery of services.

Physical Therapist (PT)
Therapist who works with an individual, generally through exercise, to improve movement patterns.

Program Manager
An employee who is responsible for overseeing designated programs, the individuals receiving services from those programs, and compliance with regulations.

Quality Assurance
An organized set of activities intended to systematically ensure safety of people receiving services and to encourage performance improvements.

Quality of Life
The assessment of an individual’s meaningful relationships and activities from the individual’s point of view.

Residential Services
Various living options where services and individual supports can be provided for people who are unable to live independently.

  • Group homes –individuals share a home with no more than three other residents and receives services from staff that is on-site 24-hours a day.
  • Supervised apartments –individual lives alone or with a roommate in an apartment that is leased or owned by a provider agency, which also employs staff that is available to serve the individual 24-hours a day.
  • Supportive Housing –individual leases his or her own apartment and receives services on an as-needed basis either in person or through phone contact up to a total of 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Community Care Home –individual lives as part of the family of a caretaker and receives assistance from that person and/or from an agency on a routine basis. Respite Respite provides family caregivers with a short period of rest or relief by arranging alternate care-giving for the family member with a developmental disability. 
  • Respite also can be provided when the family caregiver is temporarily absent or disabled for any reason, such as for a short period of hospitalization Seizure Unusual muscular or behavioral activity caused by abnormal brain impulses without purpose. Self-determination Activities which promote or allow for consumer choice and the ability of a consumer or family to use principles of freedom, authority, support and responsibility.

Supported Living Services
Provides services and supports tailored to the needs of the individual living in his or her own home or family home.

The process whereby an individual acquires the knowledge, values, facility with language, social skills and social sensitivity that enables him or her to become integrated into and behave adaptively within a society.

Supported Employment
Paid employment for adults with developmental disabilities who, without long-term support, are not likely to succeed in a regular job.

Supervised Apartment
A residential service in which people with disabilities live in apartments and are monitored by staff who provide up to 24 hour supports.

Supportive Living
A residential service in which people live in apartments without live-in supervision but are offered needed services and on-call assistance.

Team Meeting
A meeting that includes all parties working with or having an interest in an individual’s services and supports.

An approach to intervention which is based on the premise that one person can perform the roles of professionals by providing services to the consumer under the on-going guidance of the individuals from the other disciplines involved. Representatives of various disciplines work together to develop the plan, but only one or two members actually provide the services.

Transition Services
A coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities including post-secondary education, vocational training and education, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living and community services.

Transitional Individualized Habilitation Plan (IHP)
An IHP written at least 30 days prior to transferring a person to a new living situation including a description of how the move will be handled.

Vocational Assessment
Identifies the individual's strengths, skills, interests, abilities and rehabilitation needs. Accomplished through on-site situational assessments at local businesses and in community settings.

Source: Adapted from State of New Jersey Department of Human Services, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), Developmental Disabilities Resource Center