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Approaches used in the Bi-borough to support with autism

The Bi-borough uses a team made up of a wide range of professionals to support a personalised approach for meeting a child with autism’s individual support needs.

Over the years, a number of teaching approaches have been proposed. These include interventions that target specific areas. These areas could be, for example:

  • relationship development
  • individual skill building
  • cognitive development
  • physiological processes.

Often these approaches focus on the child or young person gaining core social, communication and play or academic skills.


All Bi-borough schools use a range of evidence-based approaches for meeting the needs of children they support. All these approaches have been found effective for meeting the wide-ranging developmental needs of children with autism.

All approaches used in the Bi-borough aim to promote independence. Although not all children with autism can learn to be independent in every aspect of their daily life, educational programmes should champion choice and independence as much as possible. This is the difference between ‘doing to’ versus ‘doing with’. The ultimate aim is to help the child or young person to ‘do it for themselves’.

All pupils with autism are different which means that strategies need to be adapted to meet the specific needs, skills and interests of the individual. Research shows that offering a flexible approach is important. This means selecting the most effective parts from a range of strategies that work for a particular child or young person. 

The SCERTS Model

SCERTS stands for:

  • Social Communication (SC)
  • Emotional Regulation (ER)
  • Transactional Support (TS)

The SCERTS model works well for inclusive education because it promotes learning in a wide variety of settings.

The idea is that the best results are more likely when children and young people learn skills in environments that occur naturally as part of their daily routine.


What is the SCERTS Model based on?

The SCERTS Model is a research-backed approach based on the following ideas:

  1. That the best long-term outcomes for children with autism are related to how well they can communicate.
  2. That the development of successful relationships in all children relies on their emotional regulation as this is a core requirement for attention and social engagement. 
  3. Most children with autism need a variety of supports to maximise their learning in educational settings, participate in daily living activities and derive pleasure from relationships and everyday activities.


What are the features of the SCERTS Model?

  1. The model is based on the most uo-to-date research in child development and autism.
  2. It takes into account different psychological perspectives (i.e. developmental and contemporary)
  3. It can be adapted to suit the specific needs of individuals while also addressing the core deficits of autism.
  4. The model is family-centred, taking into account the family's unique priorities and seeking their involvement in important decision-making.


Developmental areas addressed in SCERTS

There are three key areas that are addressed through the SCERTS Model. These are:  

  1. Social Communication (SC), including:
    • Capacity for joint attention
    • Capacity for symbol use
  2. Emotional Regulation (ER), including:
    • Self-regulation
    • Mutual regulation
  3. Transactional Support (TS), including:
    • Interpersonal support
    • Educational and learning supports
    • Family support

Structured Teaching and TEACCH

TEACCH is a structured teaching method which focuses on modifying the environment to accommodate the needs of children and young people with autism.

Four main components are related to this process:

  1. Physical organization: this refers to the layout or setup of the teaching area for both academic and functional skills teaching.
  2. Visual schedules: allow students to see what and when activities will be happening.
  3. Work systems: visually specify what and how much work is to be done.
  4. Task organization: presents information on within-task actions such as the sequence of steps.

The TEACCH approach is broad-based, taking into account all aspects of the lives of people with autism and their families. Although independent work skills are emphasized, it is also recognized that communication, social and leisure skills can be learned by people with autism and can have an important impact on their well-being. An important part of any TEACCH curriculum is developing communication skills, pursuing social and leisure interests, and encouraging people with autism to pursue more of these opportunities.

Structured teaching emphasizes individualised assessment to understand the individual better.

Attention Autism

Attention Autism is a programme which targets the teaching of attention, communication and social interaction skills.

The aims of Attention Autism are to:

  1. Engage attention
  2. Improve joint attention
  3. Develop shared enjoyment in group activities
  4. Increase attention in adult-led activities
  5. Encourage spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting
  6. Increase non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting
  7. Build a wealth and depth of vocabulary
  8. Have fun!

Other strategies

Speech and Language Therapy is delivered at the organisational, classroom, group and individual level and focuses on promoting speech, language and communication development. For more information on the speech and language therapy service offer please click here


Occupational Therapy helps to develop sensory profiles and strategies and, where necessary, may help learners with motor coordination. For more information on the local occupational therapy service offer please click here. 


Social Stories/Scripts were created by Carol Gray in 1991 to help teach social skills to people with autism. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about a particular situation, event or activity, what to expect in that situation and why. These stories can be used as a supportive measure to introduce new ideas, places, modify behaviours and support children and young people with autism to see things from another perspective. 


PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is a form of "augmentative and alternative communication" for children and young people with speech or writing impairments. Its goal is spontaneous and functional communication.


SPELL (Structure, Positive approaches and expectations, Empathy, Low arousal, and Links) is The National Autistic Society’s framework for understanding and responding to the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum. It recognises the individual and unique needs of each child and adult and can also serve as a means for planning and intervention. The framework draws on a range of approaches to make sure that the fundamentals of what a child needs in a range of contexts (e.g. in a 1:1 settings, small groups and in the whole classroom) are highlighted and learning can be generalised to all situations.


Behavioural Analysis techniques, such as Positive Behaviour Support, can be used to help people who display challenging behaviours. The intervention focusses on environmental influences on behaviour and includes a functional assessment of the possible relationship between specific environmental events and the target behaviours. By identifying what reinforces the behaviour, practitioners can put into place interventions which are designed to promote more adaptive actions. The final aim is to enhance the individual’s quality of life and his/her integration within the local community.


For further information on the evidence base for all the approaches to autism mentioned above, please see

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Last Updated 30/01/2024

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