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TEACCH and Autism Ranking: Strong positive evidence

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.

The TEACCH Autism Program or Model is used to describe some of the educational programmes run by Division TEACCH and by a variety of other providers in the USA and in other countries. 

The TEACCH Autism Program has several key components including

  • an understanding of the culture of autism - the characteristic patterns of thinking and behaviour seen in individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • the development of an individualised person (and family)-centred plan for each client.
  • the use of structured teaching (which consists of four elements: physical structure; visual schedules; work systems; and task organisation).
  • the use of a wide range of cognitive, developmental, educational and behavioural strategies.
  • co-operation between therapists and parents.

In practice, the terms TEACCH, TEACCH model, TEACCH Autism Program and structured teaching are sometimes used interchangeably, which can lead to some confusion.

Elements of the TEACCH Autism Program are used extensively alongside other approaches within other comprehensive, multi-component interventions throughout the world. It also forms a key element of the SPELL approach, used in services run by The National Autistic Society in the UK.

Our Opinion

There is a small amount of high quality research evidence (eleven controlled trials) and a small amount of low quality research (thirteen single-case design studies with three or more participants) into the use of the TEACCH Autism Program for people on the autism spectrum.

This research suggests that the TEACCH Autism Program may provide a range of benefits to some pre-school and primary school children on the autism spectrum. Those benefits include increased social communication and social interaction, along with improved cognition and improved motor skills.  

This research also suggests that the TEACCH Autism Program may reduce stress, and improve the mental wellbeing, of some families of children on the autism spectrum.

There is insufficient evidence to determine if the TEACCH Autism Program provides any benefits in other areas (such as a reduction in repetitive and restricted behaviours, interests and activities) for any children on the autism spectrum.

There is insufficient evidence to determine if the TEACCH Autism Program provides any benefits for adolescents or adults on the autism spectrum.

There is insufficient evidence to determine if any of the four components of structured teaching (physical structure; visual schedules; work systems; and task organisation) by itself provides any benefit for anyone on the autism spectrum.

There is a need for more research into the TEACCH Autism program which uses scientifically robust, experimental methodologies and which includes a wider range of participants.  

That research should investigate whether the TEACCH Autism program is more or less effective than other comprehensive, multi-component, educational interventions (such as the UCLA YAP model and LEAP). It should also investigate which components of the TEACH Autism Program, if any, are more likely to benefit which individuals on the autism spectrum. 

Disclaimer

Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions


Updated
12 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Nov 2017
Next Review
01 Nov 2020