SCERTSLast updated Tuesday, April 05, 2011 |
The educational model and framework known as SCERTS, which stands for Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, Transactional Support Model for Treating and Teaching Children with Autism was developed by a team of professionals including Barry Prizant PhD. The model provides specific guidelines to help children with autism spectrum disorders by focusing on social communication, emotional regulation, and transactional support; hence the acronym ‘SCERTS.’ It is intended to help, and includes, family members, educators, related therapists and specialists who collaborate and apply the SCERTS guidelines throughout treatment. The overall goal and expected outcome is to see children develop into social communicators who can regulate their behaviors and emotions in order to build interpersonal relationships. The transactional supports of SCERTS are intended to help children throughout the day.
Prizant and colleagues have researched and focused on the social-pragmatic aspects of educating children with autism for decades. Over twenty years of personal research and experience was utilized when creating the SCERTS model (2009, SCERTS FAQ, ¶ 1). The 2006 publication, Summary of Research Supporting SCERTS ® Model, authored by Prizant and colleagues, boasts an extensive list and discussion of the research used when developing SCERTS. SCERTS Frequently Asked Questions, discusses what age groups the SCERTS model is intended for. It’s important to note the majority of literature regarding SCERTS focuses on elementary age children and younger. SCERTS explains the model is, “relevant for children who fall developmentally between 8 months and 10 years of age” (¶ 4). Considering the developmental ability as opposed to chronological age makes this model applicable into adulthood.
Since this model focuses on social communication, emotional regulation and applying these abilities into real life skills, it has been used with children having disorders other than autism. SCERTS official website states, “The model was designed to focus on children with significant challenges in social communication and emotional regulation who need transactional supports throughout the day” (2009). This has made SCERTS a popular model within special education. While not considered a behavioral approach, SCERTS professionals are trained to interpret and work through behaviors using model guidelines. Sensory integration behaviors, commonly called self stimulatory behaviors are also addressed, but considered regulatory behaviors instead. The subsequent management and treatment of behaviors is geared towards teaching the child to cope and adapt to the environment or situation, as opposed to eliminating specific behaviors via conditioning. When determining specific goals for a child, SCERTS considers functional goals, family goals and developmentally appropriate goals, which allows the intervention to yield applicable results. Co-developer and researcher of SCERTS, Amy Prizant, is currently conducting a study sponsored by Autism Speaks to evaluate the effectiveness of a parent implemented intervention using this model. As more professionals and parents use SCERTS, further research will be conducted to determine long-term effectiveness.
The SCERTS model is intended to be implemented by an interdisciplinary team and across settings. Educational professionals, family members and other persons in the child’s life should understand and consistently apply SCERTS strategies. The model should be used in the classroom, at home and in the community. There isn’t any required equipment but education and training are necessary. Due to the comprehensive nature of this model, family members and professionals will need SCERTS training. Prizant and colleagues offer numerous training opportunities across the country for both parents and team members.
There is no official SCERTS certification or licensure, although advanced training of team members is highly recommended. The SCERTS™ Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, Vol. 1: Assessment, Vol. 2: Program Planning and Intervention, which was reviewed by the American Psychological Association in 2007, is Prizant and colleagues most notable publication and a necessary publication for professionals. The APA review states, “…It is particularly gratifying to see this approach taken out of the experimental context and into the daily life of the real world…”(p.5, ¶ 1). Applying strategies and determining goals within the context of real life is a SCERTS cornerstone. According to Prizant’s personal website, the other SCERTS cornerstones are considering the individual differences of children, in addition to remaining family centered, while using an integrated approach (About SCERTS, ¶ 3).
SCERTS was developed by a team of professionals with substantial experience treating and teaching children with communication disorders. Relying on decades of experience and research, the SCERTS model allows children with autism spectrum disorders to learn social communication and emotional regulation skills, so they can build trusting relationships with peers and adults. Unlike directive approaches, SCERTS is facilitative and focuses on shifting from a behavioral dynamic to a social-pragmatic dynamic, which directly influences the characteristic social and regulatory disabilities associated with autism spectrum disorders. This comprehensive model employs philosophies and strategies requiring advanced training to implement, but those interested can begin learning more through the multiple books and articles available at www.SCERTS.com and Dr. Prizant’s personal website ww.barryprizant.com.
A., Rubin, E., Laurent, A., Prizant, B., & Rydell, P. (2006). Summary of Research Supporting SCERTS ® Model. Available at: http://www.scerts.com/research-corner
American Psychological Association. (2007). PsycCRITIQUES Vol. 52 (12), Article 17:1554-0138 Available at http://barryprizant.com
Prizant, B., (2009) Available at http://barryprizant.com/scerts_model.htm
SCERTS . (2009). Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: http://www.scerts.com/frequently-asked-questions#3