Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit
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This glossary was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD). The CCGSD is a national non-profit organization that aims to empower gender and sexually diverse youth through education, research, and advocacy. For more resources on gender and sexuality, see their Resources Page.
A term meaning “without gender,” people who are agender do not identify anywhere on the gender spectrum, but rather see their gender as non-existent.
A word to describe those who are not on the asexual spectrum. Other terms for this include zedsexual, zsexual, or non-ace, which are less sexological in nature
Identity or umbrella term for types of non-binary gender identity and gender expression, implying some combination of conventionally masculine and feminine aspects.
A term used to describe a person who either:
1. Does not experience romantic attraction
2. Does not experience a desire for romantic relations/contact, or
3. Experience these to a significantly lesser degree than most.
A term used to describe a person who either:
1. Does not experience sexual attraction
2. Does not experience a desire for sex, or
3. Experiences these to a lesser degree than most
ASSIGNED SEX (noun)
Assigned sex is the classification of a person as male, female or intersex based on biological characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, external genitalia and reproductive organs, often at birth. The term ‘assigned sex’ is used over ‘biological sex’ to acknowledge that sex is often a value assigned by medical professionals based on visual assessment of external genitalia. Inclusion here of the recognized category of “intersex,” frequently overlooked in discussions of sex, serves as a reminder that even at the level of biology, sex is not a binary system.
A term used to describe a person who is questioning or exploring the possibility of being bisexual, gay/lesbian, or otherwise being not heterosexual.
A societal issue, existing even within the 2SLGBTQ+ community, that privileges monosexual identities and ignores, or even denies the existence or legitimacy of bisexual and/or polysexual identities.
A gender identity describing a fluctuation between two distinct gender identities, or the experience of two genders simultaneously.
Hatred of bisexuality exhibited in ways such as prejudice, discrimination, or violence. Anyone who is not monosexual (or is assumed not to be) can be a victim of biphobia. It need not necessarily include homophobia or lesbophobia because there are stereotypes and prejudices specifically targeting the bisexual community.
A term used to describe those who experience romantic attraction to two or more genders.
A term used to describe those who experience sexual or sexual and romantic attraction to two or more genders.
A term used to describe people for whom their gender identity and assigned sex match, and who fit the societal expectations surrounding their birth-assigned sex. It is the opposite of transgender.
A societal bias that privileges cisgender identities and gender norms, and ignores or underrepresents trans identities and/or gender diversity by assuming that all people are cisgender and will express their gender in a way that aligns with their assigned sex at birth and perceived gender norms.
Prejudice and discrimination against transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and/or other gender diverse identities and/or expressions. This includes the presumption that being cisgender is the superior, more valid, and/or default identity.
COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY (noun)
The presumption that heterosexuality is the normal and necessary default of all individuals in society. It imposes a “heterosexual lens” on all individuals throughout all aspects of life, beginning in early childhood. This system imposes the coercive violence of homophobia in order to enforce heterosexuality across society.
COMPULSORY SEXUALITY (noun)
This is the set of social expectations, ideologies, institutions and practices, etc. that hold that all people should desire sex, that having and wanting sex is a form of personal empowerment, and that participation in sex is an expected and required part of a romantic relationship
Someone who only experiences romantic attraction after an emotional bond of a non-romantic nature has been formed.
Someone who only experiences sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed. This bond does not have to be romantic in nature.
A term used to describe self-identified men who are romantically and/or sexually attracted to other self-identified men. It has also been used as an umbrella term for everyone who has same-gender attraction. Although it is most commonly used for men, “gay” can refer to men or women, or more generally, the entire rainbow community. Some non-binary people, as well as those who are attracted to non-binary people, also identify as gay.
Gender is a system that operates in a social context to classify people. An individual’s gender includes both their gender identity and their gender expression.
GENDER EXPRESSION (noun)
How a person outwardly expresses their gender identity, whether through behaviour, clothing, hairstyles, voice, or body modifications. A person’s gender expression may not always be stereotypically congruent with their gender identity. Gender expression, which is external and visible to others, is one of two aspects that make up gender as a whole; the other aspect is gender identity.
GENDER FLUID (adjective)
As an identity, gender fluid typically fits under the transgender and nonbinary umbrellas, meaning that their gender identity does not entirely match their assigned sex at birth. Gender fluidity more broadly refers to change over time in a person’s gender identity, gender expression, or both.
GENDER IDENTITY (noun)
A person’s individual experience of gender. It is their internal sense of being a man, a woman, or any other gender. Gender identity can correspond with an individual’s assigned sex at birth, but not necessarily. Gender identity, which is internal and is not visible to others, is one of two aspects that make up gender as a whole; the other aspect is gender expression.
GENDER NON-CONFORMING (adjective)
A community-generated term to describe those who depart from the societally-sanctioned binary gender norms of masculine or feminine. The term can be used to describe a person’s gender identity and/or their gender expression.
A term that falls under the transgender and nonbinary umbrellas, used by some individuals to describe their gender identity as neither entirely masculine nor entirely feminine.
a.k.a. Grey-a or Grey-sexual. Someone who identifies with the area between asexuality and sexuality, for example because they experience sexual attraction very rarely, only under specific circumstances, or at a low intensity
A cultural and societal bias, often unconscious, that privileges heterosexuality, and ignores or underrepresents diversity in attraction and behaviour by assuming all people are heterosexual.
Prejudice and discrimination in favour of heterosexuality. This includes the presumption of heterosexuality as the superior and more desirable form of attraction.
The social pressure to assimilate into heteronormative society and to become the ideal of the “mainstream gay” or “respectable queer”. It is the approach of broadening heteronormative institutions very slightly to integrate some LGBTQ+ people, instead of fundamentally challenging those institutions, thus upholding heteronormative social structures such as nuclear families, the gender binary and gender roles
Hatred of homosexuality exhibited in ways such as prejudice, discrimination, or violence. Anyone who is not heterosexual (“straight”) can be the target of homophobia
A term used to describe someone who is romantically attracted to those who identify as the same gender, or a gender similar to, the one they do.
HOMOSEXUAL (noun or adjective)
A term used to describe someone who is sexually attracted to those who identify as the same gender, or a gender similar to, the one they do. However, this term has a history of medicalization and criminalization, and should not be used for someone without their consent.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT)
Hormone Replacement Therapy is a process that some transgender* folks undergo as part of a medical transition process. Exogenous testosterone is used in order to induce virilization and suppress feminizing bodily characteristics, whereas exogenous estrogen and anti-androgens are used to suppress masculinizing bodily characteristics. Note that not all transgender people undergo HRT.
Source: National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5182227/
Indigiqueer is a term sometimes used alongside or to refer to the Two Spirit Identity, but more often is a term used by some LGBTQ+ Indigenous people who do not identify as Two Spirit.
Source: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity: Library Resources (University of Alberta Library). https://guides.library.ualberta.ca/edi/2s#:~:text=Indigiqueer%20is%20another%20term%20sometimes,those%20who%20identify%20with%20both.
A term used to describe people who are born with anatomy or chromosome patterns that do not fit typical definitions of male or female. Intersex persons are often subjected to surgical intervention at birth, with or without parental consent or even knowledge.
A term used to describe self-identified women who are romantically/sexually attracted to other self-identified women.
Hatred of, or aversion to, lesbians. Anyone who is a lesbian (or is perceived to be) can be the target of lesbophobia.
An acronym used to refer to the rainbow community. It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Two-Spirit. The plus sign (+) acknowledges that the acronym does not include all members of the community, and recognizes other terms not represented in the acronym.
The practice of having, or desiring an intimate relationship with only one person at a time.
A term for someone who experiences romantic attraction to only one gender.
MONOSEXUAL (noun or adjective)
A term for someone who experiences just sexual or sexual and romantic attraction to only one gender.
MSM (men who have sex with men) or MLM (men who love men) (noun)
Men who engage in sexual activities with other men without necessarily identifying as gay/bisexual/bi-curious/queer.
NON-BINARY or NONBINARY (adjective)
An umbrella term to describe gender identities that do not fit within the gender binary system of man/woman. It is important to note that some non-binary identities are culturally specific, and that some people may use the term itself as a specific identity. Identities that may fall under this umbrella include but are not limited to: agender, bigender, genderfluid, and genderqueer.
A term for someone who experiences romantic attraction to a person regardless of gender or sex.
A term for someone who experiences just physical or physical and emotional attraction to a person regardless of gender or sex.
The practice of having, or desiring an intimate relationship with more than one person at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
Someone who is attracted to two genders but does not want to use the term bisexual for fear of erasing non-binary identities, or someone who is attracted to more than two genders. Its romantic orientation counterpart is polyromantic.
A term used to describe an individual who rejects the use of labels to define their sexual/romantic orientation or gender identity
An umbrella term for a social/intellectual/political movement that seeks to encompass a broad range of sexual identities, behaviours, and expressions. It has also been reclaimed as a personal identity for some, after its historical use as a homophobic and transphobic slur. However, not all individuals are comfortable with the reclamation of the word, and it should not be used to describe someone without their consent. It is sometimes used as a catch-all for the rainbow community, and may or may not be seen to include trans people.
QUEERPLATONIC RELATIONSHIP (QPR) (noun)
QPRs describe a range of “non-normative” relationships that are not in the “romantic” box and that also do not fit the “friendship” box properly – even if the relationship is or includes friendship, the word/concept of “friendship” does not express it properly or adequately. QPRs can range in significance and represent a “mega-category” of relationships outside of existing categories and expectations. A queerplatonic relationship may also be referred to as a quirkyplatonic relationship.
QUESTIONING (adjective or verb)
A term referring to those who are unsure of, or exploring their gender identity, sexual orientation and/or romantic orientation, or those who are wary of claiming a social label for any reason.
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION (noun)
A term used to describe the direction of a person’s romantic or emotional attraction. It is not a set of absolute categories, and may or may not coincide with the individual’s sexual orientation.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION (noun)
A term used to describe the direction of a person’s physical attraction. It is not a set of absolute categories, but commonly used terms include Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Asexual, and Pansexual orientations, among others.
SPLIT-ORIENTATION MODEL (noun)
A way of conceptualising experiences of attraction wherein romantic and sexual attraction are two separate and distinct entities that may or may not align within an individual. This model says that people can have different sexual and romantic orientations, and it is understood that typically these two things together are being referenced when someone says “sexual orientation”.
An acronym to encompass people who are: Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and/or Non-Binary.
An umbrella term to describe those whose gender identity or expression is different than those typically associated with their assigned sex. Trans* with an asterisk has been used to encompass other identities within the trans umbrella, such as non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, and other gender non-conforming identities.
A person who identifies either fully or in part with a gender other than the gender associated with their birth-assigned sex–often used as an umbrella term to represent a wide range of gender identities and expressions. Transgender people, like cisgender people, can claim any identity in relation to their sexual/romantic orientation.
The process that a transgender* person undergoes in order to present/express themselves in a way that is more affirming to their gender identity. Transitioning is not a linear or monolithic process, and not every transgender* person engages in a transition process.
Transitioning can be social (ie; going by a different name or pronouns), medical (ie; undergoing gender affirming surgeries or medical treatments such as HRT), and/or legal (ie; legally changing one’s name and/or gender marker on identification documents)
A term coined by Julia Serano, a transgender activist, in 2005 to describe the specific oppression of trans women and transfeminine individuals. While transphobia is a more general term that refers to the oppression all trans people face, transmisogyny is an intersectional term that refers to the specific combination of transphobia and misogyny experienced by transfeminine folks.
Hatred of any perceived transgression of gender norms exhibited in ways such as prejudice, discrimination, or violence. Anyone who is not cisgender (or is assumed not to be) can be a victim of transphobia.
TRANSSEXUAL (noun or adjective)
An older term for those who medically transition or seek to medically transition with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), surgeries, and/or other procedures. However, like homosexual, this term has a history of medicalization and still carries a clinical connotation, and therefore should not be used for people without their consent.
a.k.a. 2-Spirit or Two-Spirited A term coined at the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference in Winnipeg in 1990 which is used by Indigenous members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is often described as meaning people who possess both masculine and feminine spirits, however it is used across Turtle Island to distinguish the Indigenous views of gender and sexuality from the Western gender binary,violently imposed on Indigenous communities through colonialism. It should be noted that Two-Spirit is not a catch-all term for Indigenous people in the LGBTQ community, they must choose to adopt the term for themselves
WSW (women who have sex with women) or WLW (women who love women) (noun)
Women who engage in sexual activities with other women without necessarily identifying as a lesbian or bisexual/bi-curious/queer
All of the presenting diagnostic definitions are derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) created by the American Psychiatric Association.
These terms and definitions were written by Stigma-Free Society interns and Adler University psychology students, Alensia Ma and Brianna Kunder, and reviewed by Dr. Shimi Kang & Dolphin Kids: Future-ready Leaders.
To view definitions please click on the “name” or the “+” sign on any given line. It will expand for you to read the full definition and close when you click on another one. At any time you may scroll to the top of window click the white “X” in the upper right hand corner of the “pop up” window to return the page you were originally on.
American Psychological Association Psychologist locator: Useful search engine to find licensed psychologists by city or zipcode.
Psychology Today Find a Therapist: Broad search engine for finding counsellors, therapists, psychologists, treatment centers and support groups.
Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. In the course of one’s lifetime, they may not experience mental illness, but they will experience struggles and difficulties, which will challenge their mental health. Mental health is essentially one’s mental well-being involving one’s emotions, thoughts and feelings, the ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties.
Mental illness is different from mental health because it affects the way individual’s think, feel, behave, and interact with others. The symptoms of mental illness impact one’s life on a much more substantial level that can impede one’s daily functioning and can be chronic, lasting a lifetime.
Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different diagnoses under one umbrella: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes changes in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. People with bipolar disorder experience intense emotional states that typically occur distinctly, ranging from days to weeks, called mood episodes. These mood episodes are characterized as being manic/hypomanic (abnormally happy or irritable mood) or depressive (sad mood). Generally, people with bipolar disorder also experience neutral moods. When treated, people with bipolar disorder can live fulfilling and productive lives.
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mood disorder in which those who suffer experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and tend to lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
The development (onset) of major depressive disorder is typically puberty. It is more common for females to experience than males. It is also important to address one’s feelings of severe sadness and hopelessness as the risk of suicide is prominent with this disorder.
Anxiety is an adaptive response to stress in our environment. Anxiety disorders differ from typical feelings of nervousness or anxiousness to involve excessive fear, worry, or anxiety. It is the most common mental illness that can also include other types of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and more. Anxiety disorders are manageable and treatable.
An anxiety disorder can begin as early as 1 year of age, though is more commonly seen in school-age children, with nearly 1 in 3 adolescents (13-18) experiencing an anxiety disorder.
Feeding and Eating Disorders:
A persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behaviour that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food and significantly impairs physical health or psychological, behavioural, and social functioning. Eating disorders are ranked the third most common chronic illness in adolescent females.
Substance and Addiction:
Substance-related disorders involve 10 separate classes of drugs: alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, stimulants, tobacco, and others (unknown substances). All drugs that are taken in excess similarly activate the brain reward system, which produces feelings of pleasure or euphoria. Whenever this reward system is activated, our brain notes that something is happening that should be repeated because it is enjoyable. This is the addictive property drugs hold onto the brain.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders typically diagnosed in childhood. The two pillars of ADHD are Inattention and Hyperactivity. Inattention may look like wandering off task, having difficulty staying focused, or inability to stay organized. Hyperactivity may look like excessive motor activity, such as excessive fidgeting, tapping, restlessness, or talkativeness when it is not appropriate. ADHD interferes with one’s functioning and development such as school performance and academic achievement, which can have a substantial impact on the child and their family
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
OCD is to have a tendency towards excessive orderliness, perfectionism, and/or great attention to detail characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent, persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are perhaps unwanted. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that are done in response to the obsession, to prevent it from happening, or according to the rules one has made that they apply rigidly to avoid the obsession. Not performing these behaviours leads to great distress.
Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders:
Trauma is a lasting response to a stressful event. Experiencing a traumatic event can have a lasting impact on an individual’s sense of self, safety, and ability to regulate emotions. Psychological distress following a traumatic event can also look a lot like anxiety. It is not uncommon for a traumatic or anxious response to look alike.
Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder and is attributed to an individual if they have two or more core symptoms; delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and/or speech. The other core symptoms are significantly disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour, and negative symptoms. Delusions are fixed beliefs that are resistant to change despite conflicting evidence. For example, this might be a strong belief that someone is going to be harmed by another individual, despite there being no evidence of that being true. This is defined as a specific delusion called a persecutory delusion, which is the most common. Hallucinations are experiences that occur without an external stimulus (outside reason or cause). They are vivid and clear, like a voice speaking to you which is not just one’s individual inner thoughts; this is called an auditory hallucination. Disorganized thinking and speech can be quite sporadic in nature, whether a person jumps from idea to idea, or their ideas are completely unrelated, or their words or sentences just do not make sense. Disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour can be observed as a childlike “silliness” to unpredictable agitation. It can be seen as odd posture, excessive motor activity, staring, and more. Negative symptoms are diminished emotional expression seen in one’s face, eye contact, or delivery of speech and avolition which is a decrease in motivated self-driven activities such as sitting for long periods of time without interest in participating in work, school, or social activities
Therapy is generally defined as treatment for an injury, disability or illness with psychotherapy being specific to treatment of mental health conditions. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be done by many different professionals ranging from social workers to psychiatrists. Therapy can be beneficial to all types of people, and helpful in many different situations. It can range in intensity and be short or long term. Mental health professionals can have different areas of specialty and work under one or a combination of different “theories”. In all cases, the goal is to help people make sense of their emotions and thoughts to live more happy, productive and healthy lives.
A professional, usually with a master’s degree in social work, who helps individuals in disadvantaged situations. They can provide some counselling but are usually not trained to use psychotherapy theories. Instead, social workers usually help clients attain resources they need to change their circumstances. Social workers are generally involved in government or community services and specialize in family, child and school issues. They generally assist those with limited resources, victims of abuse, families adjusting to a child with mental health struggles, or families adjusting to a member who is differently abled.
A professional, with a master’s degree in counselling specific psychology, trained in psychotherapy. Those seeking out counselling range from dealing with trauma, anxiety, depression or just needing some extra support during stressful life events such as mourning a lost one or divorce. Anyone needing some extra support, guidance, a safe place to express their feelings or looking for something potentially long term should consider counselling.
A professional, with a doctorate degree in psychology, trained in psychotherapy who is also able to assign a diagnosis. Psychologists are able to offer support to those with symptoms of a suspected mental disorder and those with more severe mental health struggles looking for a treatment plan more catered to their diagnosis.
A professional, with a medical degree, trained in psychotherapy. They are able to assign a diagnosis, prescribe medication and other medical treatments. Those with mental health struggles such as severe depression or schizophrenia where medication is required should seek out a psychiatrist. Even those with moderate depression and anxiety who have been prescribed drugs by their general practitioner can benefit from a psychiatric consultation as they often have a more comprehensive understanding of disorders and their effective treatments. In Canada a referral from your doctor is needed to book an appointment with a licensed psychiatrist.
The guidelines, themes and general attitudes that counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists use to guide their treatment method. This is the framework they use to define client/counsellor relationship, intervention methods and the overall mood of the session. Different theories will appeal to different people and be more useful for different challenges. Don’t be afraid to try out a few different types until you find one that works best for you!
These theories are more long term and focused on the individuals and their life experience. They tend to attempt to treat the person as a whole and not just specific problems, and this generally leads to improvements in self-awareness. A few of the most common are listed below.
The original theory of talk therapy developed by Freud. Focuses on making sense of the subconscious and the past. A more intensive form of psychodynamic therapy characterized by a close working partnership between therapist and patient.
Person centered therapy:
Created by Carl Rogers, this holistic method uses empathy to help motivate people to find solutions to their problems themselves.
This theory helps people find meaning in their life and overcome the fear of death through self-determination.
This theory is goal oriented and works to help people find success , connectedness with others, and a sense of belonging in the world
Behavioral and Problem-Based Theories:
These theories tend to be more short term and focus on specific behaviors or symptoms that are causing the most issues. A few of the most well known are listed below
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
One of the most popular of the behavioral theories, this method focuses on identifying unhealthy ways of thinking and finding a healthier substitute. This has been shown to be very effective for those suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma related disorders, eating disorders and addiction.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):
One of the newest forms of therapy, this was developed specifically to help treat those with borderline personality disorder. It focuses on helping people find acceptance as well as managing their emotions. This is also very effective in those dealing with other personality disorders, addiction, suicidal ideation and post-traumatic stress disorder.
This type of therapy is used specifically for younger children and uses games, toys and different forms of “play” to help children express confusing emotions, feelings or life events
Focuses on helping families communicate and deal with major conflicts that are affecting the household.
Focuses on helping people in relationships settle differences, improve communication and find ways to have a more content life together.
Generally led by a therapist, this type of therapy will be a small group of those suffering from similar mental health struggles who come together to find support from each other as well as the therapist. This is common for those suffering from eating disorders, addiction and is used often in DBT.
All of these terms and definitions were developed or consulted on by Jenn Fane, PHD, Director of Education and the staff and instructors at the Learning Disability Society (LDS), and the team at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Learning Disability (LD)
A number of brain-based disorders that affect learning by impacting an individual’s ability to acquire, organise, retain, understand, or use verbal and non-verbal information. Learning disabilities (LDs) affect learning in individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking and/or reasoning. A person with a LD may choose to refer to themselves as an individual with a learning disability or a learning difference.
Learning Difference (LD)
Many people prefer to use the term learning difference instead of learning disability because they feel that learning disability focuses on weaknesses, while “learning difference” acknowledges that some individuals simply learn differently. Individuals with learning differences experience significant challenges in specific areas of learning but may also have other areas of learning where they excel. Both the term Learning Disability and Learning Difference are commonly referred to by the acronym LD.
A designation is the acknowledgement that an individual has a disability (such as a learning disability) and that they require extra support to be successful in their learning or day-to-day activities. In BC, a student with a diagnosed learning disability is given a Q designation by the Ministry of Education. This designation legally entitles the student to extra support at school and the development of an Individualised Education Plan (IEP).
Individualised Education Plan (IEP)
A document created by a student’s school that outlines the specific learning needs, supports, and accommodations of a student with a learning disability or other special need. An IEP is created through consultation with the student’s teacher, resource teacher, parent/guardian(s), and other specialists and professionals that the student is working with. An IEP is updated annually to ensure that the student has the support and accommodations they need to be successful at school as they age. Public Universities and Colleges in Canada are also required to provide accommodations for students with specific learning needs, these documents are often called “Access Plans” in post-secondary education, but the name of the document varies depending on the institution
Accommodation for Learning
An accommodation for learning is a change to learning and school requirements that are currently a barrier to a student’s success. For example, some students may be given extra time to take a test or do a verbal presentation rather than writing an essay because their learning difference makes it unnecessarily difficult for them to show their understanding through a timed test or written output. Accommodations for learning are documented in a students Individualised Education Plan (IEP) in elementary or secondary schools, or Access Plan in postsecondary education
Includes equipment and software used to help individuals with disabilities overcome barriers to participate in education settings, the workforce and daily life. Examples of assistive technology include text-to-speech software for individuals with written output or vision or fine motor challenges, closed captioning for deaf or hard of hearing individuals, or mobility aids for individuals with physical disabilities. Assistive technology can be integrated into schools, educational programming and workplaces of individuals with disabilities to facilitate the participation of a wide range of individuals and remove barriers for success
A specific brain-based learning disability that makes reading and related language based processing skills more difficult. An individual with dyslexia encounters significant challenges reading fluently and accurately and retrieving spoken words easily. A person with dyslexia may refer to themselves as having dyslexia or being dyslexic.
A specific brain-based learning disability that makes producing writing more difficult. An individual with dysgraphia encounters significant challenges with spelling, handwriting and typing
A specific brain-based learning disability that makes learning, understanding, and doing math more difficult. An individual with dyscalculia encounters significant challenges with numeracy based activities such as recognising and remembering numbers and number patterns, estimating time, making change, and basic math operations.
Non-verbal learning disorders
A brain-based learning disability that impacts non-verbal skills related to learning such as noticing visual and social patterns, executive functioning and organisational skills, and learning concepts related to language and math. An individual with a non-verbal learning disorder may encounter significant challenges with organising their ideas, routines, or belongings, reading social cues, or moving safely through physical space.
Oral/Written Language Disorders & Reading Comprehension Deficits
A brain-based learning disability that impacts the way an individual processes written or spoken language. An individual with this learning disorder may have trouble recognising words, understanding their meaning and how to apply the words in a sentence. They may also have trouble using language orally and finding the right word to express themselves.
The term neurodiversity reflects a viewpoint that brain differences are normal variations within human populations, not a deficit or something to be ‘fixed’. Brain-based differences, such as Autism, ADHD, and learning differences are often seen as disorders, which does not recognise the rich differences, abilities, and strengths that individuals with brain-based differences have. To reflect the span of brain-based diversity, individuals can be classified as neurodiverse (having a brain-based thinking or learning difference) or neurotypical (not having a brain-based learning difference).
Many people who have learning and thinking differences (such as Autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities) prefer to use the term neurodiverse to refer to themselves as a way of reducing stigma and highlighting that people with differences simply experience and interact with the world in unique ways.
Individuals who do not have a thinking or learning difference can be referred to as neurotypical. The use of the word neurotypical signifies that there are significant variations in thinking and learning within any population, and that having strength-based, person first labels for everyone is a more inclusive way to understand differences rather than only labelling individuals with differences.
In the context of disability, ableism is a bias that describes the expectation that people with disabilities should have to adjust to the “nondisabled” world and that this is a “normal” state, rather than seeing “normal” as a world where everyone can participate and belong. Ableism sees people with disabilities as inferior to others. The term ableism is the equivalent of terms such as “sexism,” “racism,” and “homophobia.”
Describes instances of stigma against people with disabilities that are particularly heinous and violent. In a criminal justice context, disability hate refers to any criminal act (such as assault, harassment, theft, murder, genocide, etc.) where the perpetrator’s motive relates to a person’s disability.
Describes the fact that the world is full of a wide range of different human abilities that manifest differently in different people.
In the context of disability, exclusion happens when a person with a disability is ignored or not given a chance to participate in something that they should be able to participate in.
In the context of disability, inclusion means taking action to involve and welcome people with disabilities in everyday activities, and ensuring they have ways to participate that accommodate their needs.
Describes the fact that there are many overlapping identities and related systems of discrimination (such as ableism, racism, sexism,and classism) that combine, overlap, and intersect in the experiences of marginalised people or groups.
A disability that is not visible to others. Learning disabilities, brain injuries, and mental illnesses are some examples.
Any condition or impairment of the body and/or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities connected to their condition or impairment and interact with the world around them. Disabilities can be visible and/or invisible, physical and/or mental.
A condition or impairment that limits one or more basic physical activities for an individual (i.e. walking, climbing stairs, reaching, carrying, or lifting). These limitations can impact the person in their performance tasks of daily living. Physical disabilities differ greatly from individual to individual.