Tag Archives: independence

TEACCHing Independence

structured teachingThe TEACCH Autism Program started in 1972 as part of the University of North Carolina. TEACCH stands for Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children. It was developed as a system of university-based regional centers to serve children, adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families and consists of active clinical, teaching, and research programmes.

Across the state of North Carolina, TEACCH operates 7 community regional clinics as well as a vocational/residential facility for adults with ASD.  Each of the centres provides core services and unique demonstration programmes meeting the needs of individuals with ASD, their families, and professionals.  TEACCH additionally supports student and professional training activities within the state, the US, and around the world.

In the UK many aspects of the TEACCH approach are adapted and used in both specialist and mainstream schools, as well as by parents at home. One of the 4 major components of structured teaching widely used in the UK is the individual work system used for developing independence in school (The other 3 major components are: physical organisation; schedules; and learning task organisation – Schopler & Mesibov, 1995). Typically, young people using the work system to support their learning will have a work station set up within the classroom that allows their work activities to be structured using trays or folders which the young person can then work through with minimal adult support.

The structured work station provides a prosthetic that allows the young person to make sense of how to understand and proceed with the activities, and reduces the need for adult direction and support. It’s important to remember to be creative with how these structured approaches are used – what works well for one young person may not work well for another, but the idea of making the task more easily understood and developing independence is an important one!