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TEACH approach - what is it?

(18 Posts)
bochead Mon 03-Oct-11 18:59:28

Can anyone explain this approach or give me any links to simple online explanations/books please?

I'm looking for more than just visual timetables and would really like info on it's application to HFA within mainstream if possible.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 03-Oct-11 19:10:53

When it was developed (70s I think) and used, children with ASD became independent of adult support.

It is about structuring the environment and puting visual clues all over the place to enable someone with ASD go into a school (or workplace) and know what they have to do, when and in what order, without having struggle with the areas of their disability that they find difficult i.e. language and communication (although communication was subsequently built into the system by way of PECs - which is ABA btw).

It improved outcomes for children with ASD and enabled them to access the curriculum, and excel academically as they would learn at workstations with everything laid out for them according to their individual level and need. It was also cheaper to implement as it needed very little adult supervision or intervention compared to the level that was required previous to the invention of TEACHH.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 03-Oct-11 19:14:19

It's a bit hard to implement in mainstream, because it requires that the student has minimum distraction and that everything is taught in this way. Most mainstream schools 'borrow' bits of the TEACHH approach to give the child visual clues. The problem can be that there is also a lot of other stuff going on and a lot of distracting visuals which make it difficult for the child to discriminate what is relevant to just them.

But often it CAN mean that the child can be given a book/timetable/visual support and that THAT inanimate object is their 'support' which makes no demands of their language skills which can cause anxiety.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 03-Oct-11 19:17:40

When introduced, it was a huge advancement on what was before, and the expectations of children with ASD. But sadly, it stayed where it was and didn't update with research, nor did the materials that the trainers used (videos they use are still from the 70s). It is a shame because it had the potential to contribute (Still does) to the development of therapy for children with ASD.

Local Authorities like to base their 'intervention' on it, because laminate is cheaper than 1:1 support.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 03-Oct-11 19:17:58

That's my take on it grin

moondog Mon 03-Oct-11 20:14:56

teacch AS sTAR SAYS, HAS ITS PLACE AND WAS (AND IS) A USEFUL set of strategies. After all, who doesn't benefit hugely from a highly structured and organised environment? It's the way I aspire to run my own life.

However, more is needed than environmental props (such as an autism specific curriculum or a precise data driven reinforcement rich method of learning.)

Also ask what training people have. Many professionals will tell you they are TEACCH or PECS or Makaton trained when what they really mean is that someone went over the basics quickly in a staff meeting back in 2004.
Not good enough.

bochead Mon 03-Oct-11 20:58:01

Aaaah Moondog, trust you to cut to the heart of a situation ; )

It'll be "TEACH" and an earlybird plus trained TA that the LEA will be trying to aim for. That won't, sadly, be enough for my child long term.

My current impression of TEACH: - an individual workstation for some activities, visual timetables, "now, next, then" for transitions.

So was wondering if there was a "missing element" to TEACH as it applies to a mainstream setting I haven't spotted. Sorry if this sounds confused - it's cos I am lol!

I'm not looking to bash it as a method in anyway. Just trying to better understand it, in case my pleas for proper (ie direct work with the kid, by someone properly trained) professional SALT (min 5 hours) , OT, (min 5 hours) and autism outreach teacher support (min 13 hours) go unheeded at tribunal.

moondog Mon 03-Oct-11 21:28:53

It certainly can't take the place of proper data driven intervention of the sort that can give you answers to questions like

'What exactly is my child working on?
How exactly is he doing?
What are you going to do differently if he doesn't make progress?

For that, only things like discrete trial training of the sort that Precision Teaching can offer can do the trick.

dolfrog Mon 03-Oct-11 23:13:24


I thought you might like to have a look
Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Global Perspective

Agnesdipesto Tue 04-Oct-11 10:50:09

If you live near an NAS school you can go and visit and see a Teacch based environment. Some of the children will be in white rooms with their own desk. Often work is given in work boxes and the child works from left to right and completes each box one at a time. This makes them independent to an extent - although it depends whats in the box - and the idea is it removes anxiety in terms of what do I have to do, how long for (often they will use sand timers etc). At lunch children can take a laminated symbol and 'ask' for their own meal.

It is useful for children with severe LD who will always need, and have to hand, adult support to set everything up for them eg those unlikely to ever live independently or work except in a supported employment situation with tasks broken down for them on a visual schedule.

It is far less suitable in my opinion for HF children who do have the capability to access the world as it is eg with language and without visual clues. Because whilst we might want to change the environment to make life easier for the child, once they leave school the real world is not so accommodating and doesn't come with visual laminated supports at every turn. You are only teaching the child to learn and cope with an artificial environment, not in the real world.

Teacch properly implemented is a whole environment approach. Mainstream will take borrow bits and pieces of this. Despite endless government booklets on good practice I have yet to see a single piece of proper research into how this 'Teacch lite' as I call it affects outcomes for children. There is some evidence on a full Teacch programme in a Teacch school. but not in mainstream.

However that is not to say some children don't find using visual symbols etc useful, but for a HF child you want to be fading out the environmental supports as quick as you can.

Earlybird is a parent course. However if you press the NAS they will say that it is just the basics and autism awareness, it is not designed to teach a TA nor would you be able to know how to teach a child with autism at the end of it. It is just suggestions of strategies and very basic knowledge eg what is the triad, what sort of sensory issues might a child have, now and next schedules etc. It has also never been independently accredited. Assessment of EB is by parent feedback and not reliable as its very hard to hand a feedback sheet back to the teacher each week which is critical of the course and for them to know what you really think so many parents tend to lie or be overly positive about it. The NAS will say if asked to that it is not intended to replace proper teacher training or specialist input.

bochead Tue 04-Oct-11 12:44:09

Agnes you just confirmed all my worst fears. I totally get it in a special school environment - but just can't visualise it being sufficient to teach coping skills in mainstream iywim. Moondog is along the lines of what he needs.

Sounds harsh but DS needs to learn how survive in the real world. He's too HF not to (ie too articulate etc for many allowances to be made for him in secondary and beyond though his academic progress is shocking for a bright kid).

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 04-Oct-11 13:01:01

bochead, you need to get straight in your head what the difference of YOUR definition of independence is and the Local Authoritys.

When they talk about independence they mean putting things in place so that a child needs minimal adult support. What you mean (I assume) is putting in as much adult support as is required to teach the skills that will enable the child to be independent, that is, without adult support OR visual support, as possible.

They will say that 1:1 stops the child from developing social skills as adult gets in the way of them doing this. Your answer is that your child will not learn social skills simply by being emersed in a room full of peers and that this is the key diagnostic criteria. If he could he wouldn't have ASD.

They will say that the Lamb report has said that 1:1 TA support has not made much difference to outcomes for children with disabilities. Your answer is that you understand that is because they are poorly trained and subsequently you expect one who has been specifically trained in how to give 100% support to your child whilst appearing invisable, not to mention having been on social skills development training courses, being a higher level teaching assistant and that you would expect the class teacher to use her pedagogical understanding of child development to be fully involved in the regular setting and monitoring of the daily targets.

They will say that you cannot have 1:1 specified in the statement as it will help your child to have some of their work done in small and large groups. You answer that you expect most of his education to be done in small and large groups whilst supported exclusively by his 1:1 in order for him to be able to take part in such groups.

Marne Tue 04-Oct-11 14:07:23

Hi, my dd has been using TEACH sinse nursery and is now in year 1 of a MS school, she also gets full 1:1 and has a statement where it states 'staff must be trained in TEACH', she's just started a different school so i'm not 100% sure how they are using it but the last school seemed to do a great job using it as 1:1 with dd2 and using the techniques on the whole class (even though a ms school). It worked really well for dd but that could be due to the size of the school (very tiny and small classes), she's struggling a bit more at the new school and they havn't got all the visual stuff in place for her sad (i will be pushing for this over the next few weeks).

moondog Tue 04-Oct-11 17:43:47

Thanks Dolfrog.
An interesting general global overview.

Marne, what do yuo define as 'trained in TEACCH'?
It would be worth checking that your understanding tallies with that of those responsible for your child.
A lot of 'interventions' are good at 'suggesting' and 'recommending' and 'raising awareness'.
That cannot and does not ever take the place of knowing your kids are being educated by people who know what they want to teach and how to teach it.Know what alternative ways there are to work if the initiasl teaching method fails.

bochead Tue 04-Oct-11 17:56:01

Moondog - you forgot my favourite "Review" - always a good excuse for a meeting about a meeting that one ; )

Knowing what constitutes "trained in TEACH" would be incredibly handy to know. I don't think 1/2 day on visual timetables back in 2003 cuts the mustard.

I want measurable targets and monitoring against those to demonstrate progress.

moondog Tue 04-Oct-11 18:30:10


Three of the most criminally misused words in the filed of SEN.

Bochead, what you want is what you should get and what the professionals dealing with you know they should be supplying.

There are a lot of very frightened people in the world of SEN who know they are not and cannot deliver what they are meant to-a transparent data driven evidence based service with SMART targets at its core.

Agnesdipesto Tue 04-Oct-11 20:46:31

Teacch courses are 5 days for basic course and 3 days for advanced. As I understand it there is no onward accreditation. You do the course and then call yourself 'teacch trained'. The problem is these teacch trained people (usually teachers working in special schools) often move onto outreach work where they train mainstream staff in Teacch. Except they are not actually qualified to teach teacch only to 'share' what they know iyswim. They are not allowed to call themselves Teacch trainers as only people employed by Teacch Institute in N. Carolina, USA are entitled to do that.

I can't say no m/s school does Teacch well. But my LA does it terribly. All I was offered for a severe ASD child, practically non verbal (with normal IQ) was a visual timetable, a sand timer, a pop up tent and white walls. Apparently these props meant that actual teaching methods were not necessary. The idea was DS was so rigid he would be magnetically drawn to the visual timetable and finished pocket such that he would be incapable of not doing the tasks in order independently. Unfortunately no-one thought to worry about the fact that he couldn't actually do any tasks to start with. So I am biased against Teacch. However I could see the benefit in the NAS school where children needed that level of support. But DS when taught properly and set high expectations does learn quickly. He does manage fine without all of this. But he is to be fair not an anxious child and doesn't have problems about what will happen next, how long something will last etc.

The other thing I didn't like about it was the absence of the adult input because DS is too much of a loner so setting up a system where he did not have to interact with others seemed the opposite of what he needed. I couldn't see how it would help him develop social interest in others. In fact it seemed to feed his inner self absorption.

moondog Tue 04-Oct-11 21:23:26

Great post Agnes, summingup so many of the caveats we need to consider in cases like these.
'Apparently these props meant that actual teaching methods were not necessary'


This is like the mustart on a sandwich.
Very nice as a final flourish, but what about what the bloody sandwich is actually comprised of?

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