Education and Acronyms

The process of receiving the appropriate services for your child can be a daunting one, even for the most organized parent.  The world of special education is full of acronyms. This cheat sheet will help you to navigate the process for the most elaborate cases*.

Birth to Three

Early Intervention (EI): these are free services offered to families of children aged birth to 3.  Services are offered by county, and in New York City, by the Department of Health. Some children will automatically qualify for services, while others will need to go through a comprehensive evaluation process.

  • To begin the process, contact 311 or an approved Early Intervention Provider
  • You will be assigned a case coordinator. This will be your point person throughout your child’s time in Early Intervention.
  • The evaluation process includes a visit by a special instructor and a specialist in at least one domain (speech, physical, fine motor).
  • Following the evaluations, you will be scheduled for an IFSP meeting.

Assistive Technology (AT): these are any devices that may be needed to help your child reach his/her full potential.  This could include specialized chairs for feeding, walkers/standers to reach physical milestones, or communication devices.

Department of Health (DOH): the Department of Health oversees all early intervention programs in New York City.

Early Intervention Official Designee (EIOD): this member of the IFSP meeting team represents the interest of early intervention.  After reviewing reports and speaking with parents, the EIOD makes the official recommendation at your meeting.

Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP): this is the official document that grants your child services and is formed at the meeting.  The document summarizes the results of all evaluations, details any important medical history, outlines goals, and lists each service recommended to help your child meet these goals.  IFSP plans are renewed every 6 months in early intervention.

Preschool (Ages 3-5)

Preschool students receive services through The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), which is a branch of your local school district.  

  • If your child is already receiving early intervention services, your case manager can help to transition your child to CPSE beginning at the 2nd birthday.
  • If these will be new services, parents must provide a written request for the evaluation to the CPSE office

Similar to early intervention, your child will receive evaluations in the area of concern and you will have a meeting with the CPSE.


School-Age Children

*The information provided pertains to programs offered in New York State.  Although there are similarities in federal legislation, each state differs in the way that they provided services.