The SCERTS Model: A Transactional, Family-Centered Approach to Enhancing Communication and Socioemotional Abilities of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

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A range of educational/treatment approaches is currently available for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A recent comprehensive review by an expert panel on ASD (National Research Council, 2001) concluded that a number of approaches have demonstrated positive outcomes, but nonetheless, not all children benefit equally from any one approach. Efforts to increase communicative and socioemotional abilities are widely regarded as among the most critical priorities, and growth in these areas is closely related to prognosis and long-term positive outcomes. However, some widely disseminated approaches are not based on the most contemporary developmental research on social and communication development in children with and without disabilities, nor do they draw from current understanding of the learning style of children with ASD. This article describes the SCERTS Model, which prioritizes Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, and Transactional Support as the primary developmental dimensions that must be addressed in a comprehensive program designed to support the development of young children with ASD and their families. The SCERTS Model has been derived from a theoretical as well as empirically based foundation and addresses core challenges of children with ASD as they relate to social communication, emotional regulation, and transactional support. The SCERTS Model also is consistent with empirically supported interventions and it reflects current and emerging “recommended practices” (National Research Council, 2001).

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