Approaches to Autism – What is TEACCH?

What is TEACCH?


TEACCH is as acronym standing for Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication-Handicapped Children. It’s not exactly the catchiest of names so it’s no wonder that everyone just says TEACCH. It would appear that the TEACCH website is also trying to move towards a new meaning for the acronym with their TEACCH core values of:

  • Teaching
  • Expanding
  • Appreciating
  • Collaborating and Cooperating
  • Holistic

So what exactly is TEACCH? That’s a bit tricky to explain because Division TEACCH actually covers a whole range of different services in education, residential care, and employment. To narrow it down for now the TEACCH approach or TEACCH strategies are an intervention/framework for working with autistic students that was designed to fit into the strengths of the autistic student instead of focusing on the difficulties. These strategies are often also referred to as Structured Teaching.

The concept of TEACCH originated in the mid-1960s from Eric Shopler and Robert Reichler, and the TEACCH Program was founded by Shopler in 1971. At the time, autism was still viewed primarily as an emotional disorder, and the work by Shopler, Reichler, and their colleagues was important in moving towards understanding autism as a developmental disorder.

The TEACCH approach/Structured Teaching focuses on systems for organising classrooms or workspaces, and making teaching styles or processes more accessible for autistic people. There are four main components to this:

  1. Physical structure – making the classroom or work-space clear, interesting, accessible, and manageable for autistic students.
  2. Daily schedules – To provide routine and predictability and in doing so reduce anxiety.
  3. Work systems – The organisation of specific activities.
  4. Visual structure and information – The visual organisation and structuring of tasks to reduce anxiety, and increase clarity.

Whilst TEACCH is arguably most well-known in the US, TEACCH approaches are also used in the UK, the rest of Europe and in other countries world-wide. Many classrooms try to use aspects of the TEACCH approach with autistic students, even if they do not use the entire approach.

This was just a brief introduction to TEACCH, future posts will look into the different aspects in greater detail, as well as looking at some of the research into TEACCH.

Until next time.

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