What is the SCERTS® Model?
The SCERTS® Model is a model of service provision, rather than a specific therapy or program. SCERTS® aims to help families, teachers and therapists work cooperatively to support autistic children. It combines several techniques to create individualised programs for autistic children.
The acronym stands for Social Communication (SC), Emotional Regulation (ER) and Transactional Support (TS).
The SCERTS® Model isn’t available in Australia. But it might be offered as part of a service within Australia or in a modified form – for example, within an early learning centre or autism-specific setting.
Who is the SCERTS® Model for?
The SCERTS® Model was developed specifically for autistic preschoolers and primary school-age children. The approach might also be useful for older autistic people.
What is the SCERTS® Model used for?
The SCERTS® Model is used to teach autistic children how to regulate their emotions and communicate with others.
Where does the SCERTS® Model come from?
The research that underpins the SCERTS® Model was conducted during the early 1980s in the United States. In its current form, SCERTS® was created in 2007 by a team of autism experts.
What is the idea behind the SCERTS® Model?
The SCERTS® Model concentrates on three key areas:
- social communication – developing relationships and communication skills
- emotional regulation – reducing emotional ups and downs
- transactional support – providing helpful aids to communication and learning.
SCERTS® incorporates aspects of different well-established autism therapies in individualised programs designed by children’s parents and therapists.
What does the SCERTS® Model involve?
Parents work with professionals to assess children and then choose a set of individual techniques they think will be most helpful to children.
In choosing these techniques, parents and professionals draw on established, evidence-based interventions like:
- Pivotal Response Treatment
- Relationship Development Intervention™
- More Than Words®
- Social Stories®.
The time involved in this approach depends on the specific strategies that are used with individual children.
The cost of this therapy varies depending on the service provider.
Does the SCERTS® Model work?
SCERTS® is a model of service provision, rather than a specific program. Some of the individual techniques used in this model are supported by research.
Who practises the SCERTS® Model?
Practitioners who have been trained in the SCERTS® Model or who have studied the SCERTS® professional manual can practise this method. The developers of SCERTS® say it’s most effective when professionals from different disciplines – for example, speech pathologists, psychologists and occupational therapists – collaborate to deliver the Model.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
If your child is in a program that uses the SCERTS® Model, you work with therapists and other professionals to implement the Model. You help with your child’s initial assessment, set intervention goals and play a central role in implementing the teaching supports and techniques.
Where can you find a SCERTS® practitioner?
SCERTS® is offered as part of autism-specific learning and teaching programs in some Australian early childhood services and schools.
If you’re interested in approaches like SCERTS®, you could talk about these approaches with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk about them with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood early intervention (ECEI) coordinator or NDIS local area coordinator (LAC), if you have one.
There are many therapies for autism. They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for autistic children takes you through the main therapies, so you can better understand your child’s options.