Glossary - FIRST: Course, KIT and FAQs -
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FIRST: Course, KIT and FAQs

The FIRST Course, FIRST KIT, and FAQs provide speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists with evidence-based information and tools to support the implementation of a needs-based, tiered model of service in schools.

The FIRST Course, FIRST KIT, and FAQs provide speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists with evidence-based information and tools to support the implementation of a needs-based, tiered model of service in schools.

Teaching and assessment strategies, human supports, and/or individualized equipment required to enable a child to learn and to demonstrate learning. The provincial curriculum expectations for the grade are not altered for a child receiving accommodations.

Alternative Curriculum/Alternative learning expectations1
A type of expectation developed to help children acquire knowledge and skills that are not represented in the Ontario curriculum. Examples may include speech remediation, social skills, orientation/mobility training, and personal care programs.

Services in Ontario being provided in the current traditional medical model are usually based on caseload which means that health professionals have a particular number of “cases”, or individual children, for whom they are responsible.

Coaching Model
A therapist uses adult learning strategies to build the capacity of families/caregivers and/or colleagues to enhance existing abilities, develop new skills, and gain deeper knowledge and understanding of practices/behaviours/strategies for use now and in the future.

Collaborative Model
A therapist partners with others, (e.g., educators, families/caregivers, school team, other service providers) who have diverse backgrounds and expertise, to generate creative solutions to mutually defined issues.

Consultation Model
A therapist shares knowledge, resources and expertise to enable others to make changes in their roles, methods of instruction, programs, and environments.

Differentiated Instruction (DI) 1
A method of adapting instruction to suit the differing interests, learning styles, and readiness to learn of individual children. This may also involve changing the task or the environment to allow for child diversity.

Direct Service Model
Direct services are individually-designed intervention activities carried out by the therapist with one child or a small group of children. The focus is on meeting children’s specific needs through specialized therapeutic strategies and techniques.

Dynamic Assessment
Dynamic assessment involves prompting, guidance and mediation by the therapist to identify the child’s current level of function and area of difficulty while performing a task in the authentic learning environment.  It provides an opportunity for the therapist to try out varying types of supports and strategies to evaluate which are most helpful to the child in moving towards competency and participation. The term Dynamic Performance Analysis may be used interchangeably in some contexts.

Dynamic Performance Analysis (DPA)2
DPA is a process that therapists may use when they first notice children who are struggling with performance of a task. DPA is an iterative process during which the therapist observes children performing tasks in natural contexts to determine whether or not performance is breaking down, and if so, where and why. The term Dynamic Assessment is may be used interchangeably in some contexts.

May include classroom teachers, early childhood educators, special education resource teachers, learning resource teachers, literacy or numeracy coaches, educational assistants, teaching assistants, administrators such as principals, vice-principals or any other member of the school team whose professional training is in education or child development.

Environmental Adaptations
Changes to the physical, social, learning or communicative environment to facilitate inclusion of all children.

A condition or state of fair, inclusive, and respectful treatment of all children. Equity does not mean treating people the same, it involves recognizing individual differences.

Includes all family members or caregivers who are regularly involved in a child’s life and care, (e.g., parent/s, siblings, grandparents, extended family, foster parents, legal guardians). 

Inclusive Practices/Inclusion3
Education that is based on the principles of respect for and acceptance of diversity, including children who may have differences or special needs.

Integrated Rehabilitation (IR)
Efficient, effective and evidence-based speech/language, occupational therapy and physiotherapy services. Integration refers to these services being provided by health professionals who work collaboratively with educators.

Mediator Model
A therapist-designed intervention program carried out by another person in the child’s environment. The therapist is responsible for training, ongoing monitoring, and evaluation.

Modification (modified expectations) 1
Changes made to the grade-level expectations in order to meet a child’s learning needs. Modifications may include expectations at a different grade level and/or an increase or decrease in the number and/or complexity of expectations.

Multiple Points of Entry
In a tiered service delivery model, there may be multiple points of entry as you begin to partner with a school community.  Therapists may be asked to respond to a child’s needs at a particular tier but may change, extend or provide services to any other tier, or at multiple tiers.

Personalized Instruction/Personalization1
Education that puts the learner at the centre, providing assessment and instruction that is tailored to children’s particular learning and motivational needs.

Response to Intervention (RtI)4
RtI is a multitiered problem-solving approach that emphasizes decision-making based on a child's response to evidence-based interventions over time.

School Team5
A School team may refer to a team within the school who meets regularly to discuss the needs of any children, or it may be a team that comes together to support a particular child. The team may include: families/caregivers, principal, vice-principal, special education teacher, learning resource teacher, classroom teacher(s), early childhood educator, rehabilitation professionals, psycho-educational consultant, special education consultant, social worker, or a special assignment teacher.

Observing and monitoring a child’s development and function to determine whether a child might be showing differences from other children of the same age and stage.

Tier 1 Universal Services
These are services that are beneficial for all. Universal services support the whole school community and may include changes to the instructional methods, materials and/or environment to support all children in their authentic context. Universal rehabilitation services typically involve collaboration with educators to develop strategies, recommendations, tips or tools that can support all children.

Tier 2 Targeted Services
These are services that are necessary for some. Targeted services are offered to children who are continuing to experience difficulties, despite exposure to class-wide strategies and universal services. At this tier, therapists are determining the type of services that may be needed. Therapists collaborate with educators and families to try different strategies and/or activities and to monitor responses to the interventions that are tried.

Tier 3 Individualized Services
These are services that are essential for few. At this tier, a therapist provides more intensive services for children who need more tailored or specific support. Services will be aligned with educational goals and curricula. The frequency and intensity of service will be based on the specific needs of each child.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)6
An evidence-informed framework to optimize the educational environment for all children that considers and plans for children’s diverse abilities and experiences in advance.

In a tiered model, rehabilitation services may be based on workload. For example, therapists may be responsible for providing services to a particular set of schools. Services usually include knowledge dissemination, capacity building and universal services intended to support the entire school community, not just individual children.

*The terms in the above glossary have been adapted from documents and websites including:

1Learning for All (2013)

2Campbell, Kennedy, Pollock, & Missiuna (2016), Screening children through response to intervention and dynamic performance analysis: The example of Partnering for Change

3Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (2009)

4McIntosh, MacKay, Andreou, Brown, Mathews, Gietz, & Bennett (2011), Response to Intervention in Canada: Definitions, the Evidence Base, and Future Directions

5The Individual Education Plan (IEP) A Resource Guide (2004)