Home Page

St John XXIII Catholic Primary School Inspiring Faith in our Future

What is SCERTS?

SCERTS® is an innovative educational model for working with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. It provides specific guidelines for helping a child become a competent and confident social communicator, while preventing problem behaviors that interfere with learning and the development of relationships. It also is designed to help families, educators and therapists work cooperatively as a team, in a carefully coordinated manner, to maximize progress in supporting a child.


The acronym SCERTS refers to the focus on:


the development of spontaneous, functional communication, emotional expression, and secure and trusting relationships with children and adults


the development of the ability to maintain a well-regulated emotional state to cope with everyday stress, and to be most available for learning and interacting


the development and implementation of supports to help partners respond to the child’s needs and interests, modify and adapt the environment, and provide tools to enhance learning (e.g., picture communication, written schedules, and sensory supports). Specific plans are also developed to provide educational and emotional support to families, and to foster teamwork among professionals


The SCERTS model targets the most significant challenges faced by children with ASD and their families. This is accomplished through family-professional partnerships (family-centered care), and by prioritizing the abilities and supports that will lead to the most positive long-term outcomes as indicated by the National Research Council (2001; Educating Children with Autism). As such, it provides family members and educational teams with a plan for implementing a comprehensive and evidence-based program that will improve quality of life for children and families.

The SCERTS Model can be used with children and older individuals across a range of developmental abilities, including nonverbal and verbal individuals. It is a lifespan model that can be used from initial diagnosis, throughout the school years, and beyond. It can be adapted to meet the unique demands of different social settings for younger and older individuals with ASD including home, school, community, and ultimately vocational settings.

The SCERTS Model includes a well-coordinated assessment process that helps a team measure the child’s progress, and determine the necessary supports to be used by the child’s social partners (educators, peers and family members). This assessment process ensures that:


  • functional, meaningful and developmentally-appropriate goals and objectives are selected
  • individual differences in a child’s style of learning, interests, and motivations are respected
  • the culture and lifestyle of the family are understood and respected
  • the child is engaged in meaningful and purposeful activities throughout the day
  • supports are developed and used consistently across partners, activities, and environments
  • a child’s progress is systematically charted over time
  • program quality is measured frequently to assure accountability