Interventions for Children - birth to five years of age

Chapel Hill TEACCH Early Intervention services are provided to children who either have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder or have been identified as being at risk with developmental concerns that may indicate the presence of an autism spectrum disorder.  If you are interested in any of the following clinical services provided by the Chapel Hill TEACCH Center, please call Catherine Jones, Office Manager at 919-966-3100


TEACCH® Early Intervention Services are comprised of several models that share a common philosophy and strategies.   All models of service are committed to the following:

(1)    Helping to build a comprehensive program with an emphasis in the following curriculum areas:

• “Learn How to Learn” - attention, organization, generalization

• Expressive and receptive communication - focusing particularly on initiation, communicative intent, and effective      communication means 

• Social engagement, interest, and skills

• Play and other developmentally appropriate cognitive and motor skills

• Self-regulation and self-care skills

(2)    Developing this program based on individualized assessment of strengths, interests, and needs, and teaching this program with respect for the individual.

(3)    Providing opportunities for direct 1-to-1 instruction, group application, and independent practice of skills.

(4)    Maintaining active and on-going parent/teacher collaboration in determining goals for the child and in carrying out the child’s program across settings and including the home.

Model 1.  Parents as Co-Therapists: In-Home TEACCHing Sessions

The months following initial referral or diagnosis are a time when parents are eager to receive services that target both their child’s need for direct intervention and their own need for information and training.  In-home TEACCHing Sessions address both of these issues. This model has a dual focus.  One focus is on the child:  assessment of his/her strengths and needs and developing a developmentally appropriate home program.  The other focus is on working with the parents, utilizing the TEACCH philosophy of establishing parents as co-therapists.  The TEACCH staff share knowledge of autism and model effective intervention strategies.  The parents are encouraged to share their detailed knowledge of their child and family and to shadow and then replace the TEACCH therapist in teaching the child new skills.

Number of sessions, session length and frequency of sessions is individualized to the needs of the family; however, families enrolling in In-Home TEACCHing Sessions typically receive weekly 60-minute sessions for a block of 12 sessions.  Children enrolled are typically under 3 ½ years of age.  While a definitive diagnosis of autism is not necessary to participate in this program, the children enrolled will have been referred to TEACCH based on difficulties in the development of communication, play, social, and coping skills.

Model 2.  Parents as Co-Therapists:  Individual TEACCHing Sessions

These sessions are available to parents of children with autism ages 3-5 (and under 3 who are not able to be served by In-Home Early Intervention program). They provide an opportunity for parents to learn ways of teaching their child at home and to help deal with behavior problems, self-help and other skills including communication and social skills. Sessions are time-limited and scheduled once a week, typically for 8-12 sessions.

Model 3.  Parents as Co-Therapists:  TEACCHing Together

The TEACCHing Together program shares many features with In-home TEACCHing Sessions.  Both have the dual focus on the active participation of both the child and the parent.   Both enroll youngsters who have been referred to TEACCH due to developmental problems in the areas of communication, play, interaction, and coping skills. Both are individualized based on assessment of each child’s strengths, interests, and needs as well as on collaboration with the parents around their priorities and needs.  This program enrolls families with children up to 4 years of age.

However, the TEACCHing Together model is a small group format conducted in a classroom setting at the TEACCH center.  TEACCH staff plan and lead the families through a variety of learning activities, including both 1:1 sessions and small group activities that are tailored to the needs and interests of each child.

Each group is typically comprised of three families along with two TEACCH staff.  Families enroll for group of sessions (15 week semester) during which they meet once weekly for a 2-hour session.  Parents and children both participate in all classroom activities alongside TEACCH staff.  During the final 30 minutes of the group, the parents may join a TEACCH staff member in a discussion.

Some TEACCHing Together sessions may be scheduled as in-home individualized sessions instead of in-class group sessions.  This practice allows TEACCH staff to provide support in the home as parents learn to generalize new skills across settings and brainstorm new goals for the home and community.

Model 4.  TEACCH K-Prep Group

Kindergarten Prep Group is for preschool children with autism who will be included in a regular education classroom setting with typically developing peers.

Targeting children from mid 4s to older 5s with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, this small group program focuses on social skills and the behaviors that are essential for success in typical preschool or kindergarten settings.  These skills – which may include attending to the teacher, waiting for a turn, seeking attention appropriately, following group instructions, regulating one’s voice, attempting new activities, and moving appropriately through school spaces – are often particularly challenging for youngsters with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The K-prep sessions begin with a parent/caregiver seminar. This 2-hour seminar is an opportunity for parents to learn about the core and associated features of autism, identify classroom concerns that will be addressed, and to orient families to the group content. Following a 1-hour individual initial informal assessment, the group will meet once weekly for 9 group sessions. Group sessions are 2 hours in length. Each group enrolls 3-5 youngsters. Parents are also participants in the K-Prep group. Parents are expected to attend the initial informal assessment and are invited to participate in the weekly sessions. Parent observation and participation in the group allows for collaboration with staff in order to develop strategies and implement supports that their child can use to build positive learning routines in school and community settings.