TEACCH (an acronym for the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication-Handicapped Children) is the term given to describe the various activities undertaken by Division TEACCH, a state-wide community-based programme of services for children and adults in North Carolina, USA.
Division TEACCH provides a wide range of services including educational services, residential care service and supported employment programmes. All of these services are designed to promote learning and development (in particular, communication and social skills, independence, coping skills and skills for daily life).
The TEACCH approach is based on understanding the culture of autism - the characteristic patterns of thinking and behaviour seen in individuals with autism. It is also based around developing an individualised person (and family)-centred plan for each client or student, rather than using a standard curriculum
TEACCH is designed to make the most of an individual's strengths within a very structured environment (sometimes known as structured teaching). The four major components of structured teaching are physical structure (the organisation of the room), visual schedules (visual information depicting where/when/what the activity will be), work systems (visual information informing an individual what to do while in a work or play area), and task organization (visually clear information on what the task is about).
Elements of the TEACCH approach are used extensively alongside other approaches within other, multi-component interventions throughout the world, such as the Childrens' Toddler School Program in the US. It also forms a key element of the SPELL approach, used in services run by the National Autistic Society in the UK.
There is some research evidence to suggest that the TEACCH programme provides some significant benefits to those who follow it.
However we have concerns that the majority of studies have not been evaluated by groups independent of those that developed the programme. And we also have concerns that the outcomes may depend to a large extent on the skills and experience of individual staff involved in TEACCH.
With this in mind, we believe that larger, systematic and controlled studies should be conducted by independent researchers in order to evaluate the immediate and long term outcomes of the TEACCH programme.
Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions