This glossary is designed to explain some of the scientific terminology, abbreviations etc. used by some people when they talk about autism or research.
You may be able to find more information, including links to other parts of this website, by clicking on the title of an item.
If you can’t find the word you are looking for, or you know of a word we should include, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The fact that an intervention is listed in this glossary does not necessarily mean that we agree with its use. Nor does it necessarily mean that there is any scientifically valid or reliable evidence behind it.
Over time we hope to evaluate each of the interventions listed in this glossary, providing a ranking which tells you the level of scientific evidence which supports or does not support its use. For more information please see Treatments and Therapies for Autism Currently Under Scientific Evaluation by Research Autism
A study in which the investigators do not seek to intervene, and simply observe the course of events
Obsessive thoughts are ideas, pictures of thoughts or impulses, which repeatedly enter the mind.
Disorder where a person has recurrent unwanted ideas (obsessions) and an urge (compulsion) to do something to relieve the obsession.
Occulomotor training is another term for vision therapy, an intervention which aims to normalise or improve visual abilities, such as focusing and tracking. It consists of a series of vision “exercises” or procedures.
Therapy which aims to enable people to participate in daily activities as independently and satisfactorily as possible, using meaningful activities as a means to do this.
Acronym for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a disorder where a person has recurrent unwanted ideas (obsessions) and an urge (compulsion) to do something to relieve the obsession.
A form of lightwave stimulation in which an individual looks at coloured light produced by a special machine called a Lumatron or a Photron Light Stimulator.
Oestrogen is a hormone which is used to treat a range of medical issues in women. Some people believe that it can also be used to treat hypersexual behaviour.
Use of a drug for which the US Food and Drug Administration has not issued formal approval.
Type of atypical anti-psychotic drug which is sometimes used to treat problem behaviours in people with autism spectrum disorders.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids obtained from some types of food, such as fish. Believed by some people to be helpful in preventing the symptoms of autism.
On the job training means training someone to do a job while they are actually doing that job, as opposed to training them how to do the job while they are still at school or college.
Sometimes used as another term for discrete trial training, a highly-structured training technique that involves a trainer instructing an individual with autism using a series of learning opportunities or ‘trials’.
Range of online groups – such as listservs, chatrooms, forums and websites – used by people with autism and others to talk to one another
Early intensive behavioural intervention provided by the provincial government in Ontario.
A clinical trial in which the investigators and participants are aware which intervention is being used for which participant i.e. the opposite of a blinded trial.
Technique in which desired behaviours are systematically reinforced through rewards – such as praise or food – and undesired behaviours are ignored or redirected.
Substance with action like that of opium or its derivatives.
Morphine-like substances which can be used to block the effect of endorphins in the central nervous system. Some people believe they can be used to reduce behaviours such as self injury, hyperactivity and ritualistic behaviour.
Another term for glyconutrients, a form of monosaccharide sugars.