Structured teaching is all about creating an ordered learning environment in which a student with ASD can flourish. There are many ways to structure a classroom and teaching to fit the needs of an individual with ASD. TEACCH, a statewide program in North Carolina, structures teaching children with ASD in an effective and efficient manner, and is used or adapted by many professionals. Structured TEACCHing, as it is called, breaks down classroom assignments into manageable components. The key components of Structured TEACCHing are:
- What work will I do?
- How much work?
- How do I know when I have finished?
- What do I work on next?
By breaking down instruction to manageable routines, children with ASD can better navigate the demands of school.
Structured TEACCHing involves arranging both the environment and learning activities to suit the needs of the student. Sensory and behavioral issues need to be considered when selecting workspace placement, walking routes, and breaks from over stimulation. To learn more about sensory processing issues, check the sensory processing page.
The key components of Structured TEACCHing will give a basic framework on how you might structure work activities for your student. These components can always be changed slightly to fit the needs of the individual.
What Work Will I Do?
Visual schedules work great to inform a student what work activities should be done during different times of the day. Since schedules can change daily, a standard print out may not suffice. Instead, try print outs that allow you to write the day’s schedule in the provided blank spaces. Magnetic strips that hang on a white board or teacher’s desk, or Velcro strips that can be placed on the student’s desk, with the day’s schedule can also be used.
Beyond visual schedules, having buckets or folders with the subject labeled and work stored inside further structures the workload for the student. This eliminates any guesswork—as well as latency—and allows the student to get right to work.
How Much Work?
The student can know how much work needs to be done by what is placed in the buckets or file folders. Providing written instructions with the work further clarifies how much of the day’s work needs to be completed today versus how much may be acceptable to complete tomorrow.
How Do I Know When I Have Finished?
Written instructions play a big part in this phase as well. Instructions can tell the student how much needs to be done today, along with instructions on what to do with the work once it is completed. When using buckets, having a separate bucket labeled “finished”—or something similar—is good to have. Likewise, having a file folder with two pockets—one for the work that needs to be done and one for the completed work—works well. A place to put the file folder for the teacher to grade work is also needed in Structured TEACCHing. The place for the file folder to be turned in can be a spot on the teacher’s desk, a spot on the student’s desk, or a tray on a table somewhere in the room.
What Do I Work On Next
Visual schedules come back into play at this point. Once one subject has been completed, the student can refer to the schedule and know when and what to work on next. The student should be aware of when to pay attention to a lesson versus work on the next folder or bucket based on the visual schedule.
As you may have noticed, Structured TEACCHing is circular. All parts work together to provide the best learning environment and productivity system for the student. For more information on Structured TEACCHing, review the source material used for this page.
Mesibov, G. B., Shea, V. (2014). Structured teaching and environmental supports. In K. D. Buron & P. Wolfberg,Learners on the Autsim Spectrum: Preparing Highly Qualified Educators and Related Practitioners (2nd ed., pp. 83-105). Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing