What is TEACCH?

The primary aim of the TEACCH programme is to help prepare people with autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community. Special emphasis is placed on helping people with autism and their families live together more effectively by reducing or removing 'autistic behaviours'.

The principles and concepts guiding the TEACCH system have been summarised as:

  • improved adaptation: through the two strategies of improving skills by means of education and of modifying the environment to accommodate deficits 
  • parent collaboration: parents work with professionals as co-therapists for their children so that techniques can be continued at home
  • assessment for individualised treatment: unique educational programmes are designed for all individuals on the basis of regular assessments of abilities
  • structured teaching: it has been found that children with autism benefit more from a structured educational environment than from free approaches
  • skill enhancement: assessment identifies emerging skills and work then focuses upon these. (This approach is also applied to staff and parent training.)
  • cognitive and behaviour therapy: educational procedures are guided by theories of cognition and behaviour suggesting that difficult behaviour may result from underlying problems in perception and understanding
  • generalist training: professionals in the TEACCH system are trained as generalists who understand the whole child, and do not specialise as psychologists or speech therapists.

(Extract from Approaches to autism: an annotated list published by The National Autistic Society, 1993/revised 2003).      

 

The history of the TEACCH Programme

Division TEACCH started in 1966 as part of the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina in the USA.

It began as a Child Research Project to provide services to children with autism and their families. In 1972 the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation which enabled Division TEACCH to become the first comprehensive state-wide community-based programme of services for children and adults with autism and other similar developmental disorders.

Today, TEACCH provides a wide range of services to a broad spectrum of toddlers, children, adolescents, adults and their families, including diagnosis and assessment, individualised treatment programmes, special education, social skills training, vocational training, school consultations, parent training and counselling and the facilitation of parent group activities. 

TEACCH also maintains an active research programme and provides multidisciplinary training for professionals dealing with children/adolescents/ adults with autism and their families.

Please note: this page provides information on a particular intervention/approach and any research connected with it, and is not a recommendation. The outcome of any approach will depend on the needs of the individual, which vary greatly, and the appropriate application of the intervention. An intervention that may help one individual may not be effective for another. It would therefore not be appropriate for The National Autistic Society to recommend any one particular practice or therapy.

Contacts, publications and training 

United States

Division TEACCH Administration & Research
CB 7180
310 Medical School Wing E
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
NC 27599-7180
United States 
Tel: + 1 919 966 2174
TEACCH@unc.edu
www.teacch.com 

United Kingdom

The closest equivalent to the complete TEACCH service in the UK is the adoption of the model by Northamptonshire County Council’s Autism Family Advisory Team. For further information about this project please see Preece and Almond (2008) under other references or contact:

Autism Independent UK (Formerly SFTAH)
199-203 Blandford Avenue
Kettering
Northamptonshire
NN16 9AT
Tel/Fax: + 44 (0)1536 523274
www.autismuk.com

Many schools have incorporated elements of TEACCH into their curricula. Some schools have participated in teacher exchange programmes with staff at TEACCH. 

Publications 

A complete listing of research papers, assessment tools, publications and video material is available from the TEACCH website.

Many of these items can also be ordered from:

The Health Sciences Consortium
201 Silver Cedar Court
Chapel Hill
NC 27514
United States 
Tel: +1 919 942 8731

An overview of the TEACCH philosophy can be found in:

Mesibov, G.B., Shea, V. and Schopler, E. (2004). The TEACCH approach to autism spectrum disorders. London: Springer

Marcus L. and Schopler, E. (2007). Educational approaches for autism TEACCH. In: Hollander E. L and Anagnostou E. Clinical manual for the treatment of autism. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing Inc, pp. 211-233

Schopler, E. (1997). Implementation of TEACCH philosophy. In D. J. Cohen, & F. R. Volkmar (eds.). Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. (pp. 767-795). New York: Wiley

Other references 

(available from the NAS Information Centre)

Chatwin I. and Harley V. (2007). 'Implementing TEACCH in support of a 24-hour curriculum.' In: Carpenter B. and Egerton J. (eds.) New horizons in special education: evidence-based practice in autism. Clent: Sunfield Publications. pp. 171-180

Mesibov G.B. and Shea V. (2010). 'The TEACCH program in the era of evidence-based practice.' In: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(5), pp. 570-579

Mesibov G.B. and Shea V. (2008). Structured teaching and environmental supports. In: Buron K.D. and Wolfberg P. ( eds.) Learners on the autism spectrum. Shawnee Mission: Autism Asperger Publishing. pp. 115-138

Panerai S. et al. (2009). 'Special education versus inclusive education: the role of the TEACCH program.' In: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(6), pp. 874-882

Preece D. and Almond J. (2008). 'Supporting families with children on the autism spectrum: using structured teaching approaches in the home and community.' In: Good Autism Practice, 9(2), pp. 44-53.

Siaperas P. and Beadle-Brown J. (2006). 'A case study of the use of a structured teaching approach in adults with autism in a residential home in Greece.' In: Autism, 10(4), pp. 330-343

Training

There are one, two, three and five day training programmes provided for professionals and parents who may wish to use TEACCH:

NAS Training and Consultancy
Castle Heights
4th Floor
72 Maid Marian Way
Nottingham NG1 6BJ
Tel: + 44 (0)115 911 3363
Fax: + 44 (0)115 911 3362
Email: training@nas.org.uk
www.autism.org.uk/training

Autism Independent UK (SFTAH)
199-203 Blandford Avenue
Kettering
Northamptonshire NN16 9AT
Tel/Fax: + 44 (0)1536 523274
www.autismuk.com

Priors Court Foundation
Hermitage
Thatcham
Berkshire RG18 9NU
Tel: +44(0)1635 245928
Email: training@priorscourt.org.uk
www.priorscourt.org.uk

Autism NI (PAPA) Training Centre
Donard
Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
Belfast BT8 8BH
Tel: 028 90 401729 Ext 1
Email: donna@autismni.org
www.autismni.org/training

If you require information on other approaches please contact the NAS Information Centre.