What is the TEACCH Method?

The TEACHH Method is a specialized educational approach to educating certain children with autism. This method was designed by experts at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill as a means to effectively educate children with autism and similar disorders where other methods had traditionally failed. Broken down, TEACHH stands for Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children.

The TEACHH Method works on the basis of five critical components. Each of these components works in tandem with the others so that a total-system, comprehensive, in-school and out-of-school approach is the ultimate product children receive. The following represent the basics of those components.

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Physical Structure

“Physical Structure” refers to the physical qualities of the environments the child spends most of their time in. Home, school, family member’s homes, and all other locations the child spends time in do, in fact, have a real and observed impact. This is especially true with children with this type of disability. Generally, the least restrictive environment to the child’s learning and growth is recommended, but beyond this, each child’s situation is different, and a finely tuned environment then must be custom adapted to those individualized needs.

Scheduling

The “Scheduling” component to the TEACHH Method is, as one might guess, all about the time management portion of the child’s life. Time management and scheduling skills, as noted by The National Autistic Society and others, are key parts of the struggle with the condition for most. Consequently, this particular component to the TEACHH Method focuses on gradually working time awareness and management skills into the child’s daily routine without causing undue stress or anxiety.

Work System

Next, the “Work System” portion of the approach deals with the common issue of independence and the ability to stay on task with various responsibilities. This area of focus is administered by slowly providing the child with supported opportunities to work independently, follow scheduled tasks, and establish a sort of self work system. Tasks here are recommended to be direct and follow a simple pattern of procedure.

Routine

Routine ties in quite strongly with the above two components of the method. More specifically, this is the part of the approach that is concerned with growing the short-term independence steps of these components into a long-term pattern of self-sustainability and following patterns and schedules. The ultimate success in this area, of course, is long-term independence with little to no outside help later in life.

Visual Structure

Finally, the “Visual Structure” component is the fifth part to the TEACHH Method and represents the goal of overcoming difficulties in the world of visual stimuli and interpretation. Per the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, “Autistic individuals have difficulty processing and responding to information from their senses, as well as difficulties with communication and social interaction.” As such, this area of the TEACHH Method asks for the child’s varying environments and activities to be visually geared at working with and improving this impairment area.

Autism is a very real handicap that affects thousands of children each and every day. While there are various approaches throughout the behavioral health industries to helping children with this condition, some methods have emerged as being clearly more effective than others. The TEACHH Method is one of those most effective approaches to autism and is widely accepted and encouraged throughout the greater expert community.