Encouraging Social Communication and Emotional Regulation through Transactional Supports (SCERTS®) is the educational framework used by the League School. By supporting students’ skills in social communication, emotional regulation, and transactional support, our teachers and therapists address the core challenges for students on the autism spectrum via a multi-disciplinary approach. “Every day we see the progress our students make with the SCERTS educational model, but the limited research that’s available focuses only on young students, and there’s a disconnect between available research and clinical practice,” said Chrissy Bunnell, Speech-Language Pathology Department Head. “We are pursuing a research study that can help validate the benefits we’re seeing.”

“We know based on our clinical experience that the SCERTS method is effective for a wider array of students than current studies show,” said Speech Language Pathologist, Molly Allen. “We hope that by completing a SCERTS research project, many students on the autism spectrum at large will benefit as other schools become familiar with this alternative therapy option for their students.”

Chrissy and Molly received their Master’s degrees from the MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP), founded by Massachusetts General Hospital, and they reached out to one of their professors who specializes in neuroscience research. IHP provides researchers and their own Institutional Review Board that will review the proposed study, along with its aims, methods, and privacy protocols to be sure the study is properly implemented. “Professor Lauryn Zipse’s expertise and the resources of IHP will be very beneficial as we explore our options,” said Chrissy.

Chrissy and Molly will be meeting with the IHP team in September to fine-tune the question the research will seek to answer, the study’s parameters, and how to best operationalize it. “We hope that with continued support by IHP, we’ll help bridge the gap between research and clinical practice by showing how the SCERTS model can help our students lead productive and meaningful lives,” said Chrissy. “This study will also make SCERTS more tangible to our families, school districts, staff, and supporters.”

About Author