What It Is
TEACCH stands for Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children. Developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the 1970s, the approach uses structured teaching to help a person develop skills, a sense of self-confidence, and overall well-being. The approach emphasizes modifying a person's environment to accommodate their particular weaknesses.
How It Works
TEACCH principles start with understanding what its practitioners call the culture of autism. This, as educators at UNC's Department of Psychiatry explain, involves autistic individuals' have very specific tendencies. They:
- take their cues from what they see, not what they hear (they process visual information over spoken language)
- see the trees but not the forest (they focus on details but find it difficult to understand patterns)
- do not mind the clock (they have difficulty combining ideas, and organizing materials and activities, with concepts of time)
- are creatures of habit (they get attached to routines so disruptions cause upset and discomfort)
- are not social (they have communications difficulties, including the use of social language)
The approach takes this cultural understanding and develops "individualized person- and family-centered plans" for each student, with supports that include a physical environment structured for learning, and an emphasis on visual cues for schedules and activities to make them predictable and understandable.
Important to Know
The TEACCH approach is not just for children in special education classrooms. It can be implemented in any setting and for people with autism spectrum disorders at all ages and developmental levels. The TEACCH website at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes that educators trained in the techniques use structured teaching for supported employment, vocational, and residential programs for adults.