TEACCH is a very structured program to support children with autism. The main goal of TEACCH is to help them grow up to a maximum autonomy at adult age. This includes helping them understand the world that surround them, acquiring communication skills that will enable them to relate to other people and giving them as much as possible the necessary competence to be able to make choices concerning their own lives.


The major thrust is toward improving communication skills and autonomy to the maximum of the child potential, using education as a means to achieve that goal. Educational programs are being revised frequently, according with the child maturation and progress, since there are no good predictor of a child evolution and early assessment could prove misleading.


Educational strategies are established individually on the basis of a detailed assessment of the autistic person learning abilities, trying to identify potential for acquisitions rather than deficits.


As opposed to behavior modification, these strategies do not work on the behavior directly but on underlying conditions that will foster learning experiences. They also make use of recent cognitive psychology research results about some differences in particular areas of brain processing in autistic people versus other people.


When behavior problems occur, they are not treated directly either. The approach calls for efforts to understand the underlying reasons for this behavior problem: anxiety, physical pain, difficulty with the task, unpredictable changes, boredom, etc... The idea is two folds:


A) By giving the person means to understand better his/her environment, it (the environment) becomes more predictable and less anxiety generator. This may require proposing a simpler environment in the early phases of development and progressively reintroducing complexity as the child progresses towards more and more autonomy.


B) By giving means of communication to the person the comprehension and expression capabilities will enable him/her to understand better what is being told/asked and to express his/her needs and feelings by other means than behavior problems.


Direct Behavior Modification isn't completely ruled out. It is reserved for those behaviors that endanger the person and for which the above strategy didn't work.

Source: http://www.autism-resources.com


Compared with gentle teaching

Like TEACCH, also in gentle teaching we don’t focus on the behavior. But we see the cause of behavior not just in the fact that a person doesn’t understand what’s happening or that he doesn’t have the right skills. The actual cause for the behavior is the stress that is evoked by these experiences and the lack of human support at these moments.  


From the perspective of gentle teaching we completely miss the focus on personal relationships. Teacch seems to focus fully on functional aspects of life. There are many good elements in TEACCH which can help a person with autism perform well in daily life on a functional level……as long as there are no unforeseen challenging events or disturbances of daily routine.


From the perspective of gentle teaching we miss the effort to go deeper in the relationship with the person and to teach him that he can rely on the help of other people when he feels stress. We know that for people with autism it’s hard to open themselves for others, but we also know that deep inside they also long to feel safe with and unconditionally loved by others. We have to help them in this process by teaching them the feeling of companionship.


Also people with autism need this. Not only because they are human beings, just like us. But because we can’t control all outer conditions completely for the person and make life compeltely predictable and manageable. There will always be days when all goes wrong. at that time he needs our presence and support. Not only functional, but most of all emotionally.


So teaching all kind of skills, like is done in the TEACCH program, is ok, but never without also teaching the feeling of companionship.