What does it mean? – A


This page is part of our handy list of definitions and explanations of some of the terms that you might have come across but didn’t know what they meant. If you think we’ve missed something, let us know, and we’ll look at added it to the list. 

These are the entries for A. You can see other entries by clicking the letters below.




This means that you are looked after away from home – but that your parents have agreed to it. You may also hear people talking about ‘section 20′. This is the section of the Children Act that describes the duties of the local authority (Devon County Council) in accommodating children and young people in need who are away from home.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can cause a lack of concentration or focus, mood swings and unpredictable behaviour. Sometimes it can be controlled by changing your diet or by taking medication.


This is a legal process where a child has new parents in the eyes of the law. An adoption plan means that Devon County Council is looking for new parents to take care of a child. The new parents have to go through lots of tests and interviews and the court decides whether they are suitable. If the adoption is agreed the new parents will make all the decisions for their new son or daughter. Check out the Adopt South West website for more information.


This is somebody whose job it is to make sure you’re a part of decisions being made for you. They make sure you have a say about what is going on for you. An advocate can help you with meetings, make a complaint for you or just sort out something out that’s important to you. They don’t have their own opinions and won’t give you advice; they’ll just help you to say what you feel and think. Anyone over 18 can be your advocate, but there is also a specialist service called NYAS with trained advocates who will always have your back!

Or you can download the Mind of My Own App from the app store, google play store or your desktop. This is an app that you can use to communicate with us. Share your thoughts, make a complaint or to try and change something you are not happy with.


Alcoholic drinks can change the way people behave, have physical side effects and increase your vulnerability. In the UK it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol. An alcoholic is someone who has become addicted to drinking alcohol. Alcoholism is an illness and an alcoholic usually needs help from trained professionals to get better. The term ‘drinking problem’ means the same as alcoholic.

Drink Aware is a website with lots of information. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, Y-smart is a local support service which offers non-judgemental help and advice.


Stress can come and go, but anxiety is something that can stick around whether or not there seems to be an obvious reason. Sometimes it can seem to come out of the blue.

Anxiety can make a person imagine that things are worse than are and they often have physical symptoms like “jelly legs”, dry mouth, dizziness, a fast heartbeat, or feeling sick.

People tend to avoid situations that make them anxious, but other people manage it by doing yoga or exercise, reading, listening to music or spending time with friends or family.


This is where professionals (like a Social Worker or Educational Psychologist) will meet with you and find out about your needs, your strengths, any problems you are having and what can be done to help you and your family. There are lots of different types of assessment.

ASYE (Assessed and Supported Year in Employment)

This is a name given to the first year after a newly qualified social worker begins working with children and families. During this year they get extra help and support and work with less children and families.

Asylum Seeker

This is somebody who has left their own country because they think it’s too dangerous for them to stay there. They may be allowed to stay in this country or they may have to return to their home country. Sometimes children arrive without their parents and become looked after by Devon County Council. These young people are known as ‘Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children’. More information is available on the Refugee Council website.

Additionally, the UN website has international updates on refugees and asylum seekers.

Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)

People who are ‘on the autistic spectrum’ have a lifelong condition. Autism varies from person to person but it usually affects how a person relates to other people and how they make sense of the world. The National Autistic Society website has more details.