Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

Submission Type



Interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often focus on reducing negative behaviors or increasing the frequency of positive behaviors. Little discussion, however, focuses on the underlying mental health and developmental factors or ancillary skill deficits that may be contributing to problem behaviors. With social emotional standards built into the educational system, schools are uniquely positined to provide social emotional support and instruction to students with disabilities, especially children with ASD. Often, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) of preschool and early elementary school children with ASD focus on state academic standards rather than the social-emotional needs often associated with the underlying core symptoms of ASD that are the true driver of “educational need” in the school setting. This manuscript provides a framework for incorporating social emotional learning (SEL) goals into the IEPs of young children with ASD. The family- school partnership approach, including effective relational (i.e., communication, collaboration, parent-teacher relationship/alliance) and structural (i.e., behavioral supports, home-based involvement) components (Sheridan et al., 2019) will be emphasized to meet the mental health and developmental needs of children with ASD via pivotal SEL goals across home and school environments. We conclude with a case study of the COMPASS parent-teacher consultation intervention for improving SEL outcomes through shared parent-teacher decision making and collaboration for SEL goal selection, individualized intervention planning, teacher coaching, and outcomes-based monitoring.