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Choose a named intervention and consider the research evidence for its effectiveness. Then report on its use with a child with an ASD known to you in relation to this evidence.

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Choose a named intervention and consider the research evidence for its effectiveness. Then report on its use with a child with an ASD known to you in relation to this evidence. ................................................................................................................. Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects, often severely, a person's ability to communicate and socially interact with others. It is four times more prevalent in males than females and currently, autism is believed to affect 1 in every 250 people, (NAS 2003). The rate of people being diagnosed with autism has increased substantially over the past two decades which may be due in part to improved diagnostic techniques and changes in the criteria for diagnosing autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The causes of autism are still unknown but it is believed, and research shows, (NAS. 2003) that the disorder is caused by genetic factors associated with brain development which occur before, during or very soon after birth. Since the initial identification of autism there have been many claims of a cure. However, autism is currently considered to be incurable although there are many interventions that can be effective in improving the quality of life of those with the disorder. These interventions can offer help with behavioural and emotional difficulties or difficulties with language that the person is encountering. One intervention in particular, the Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Pupils (TEACCH), offers ways of structuring the curriculum and the classroom in order to reduce stress, promote learning and aid with behavioural and emotional difficulties (Mesibov, 1997). This essay will focus on structured teaching, as practised in the TEACCH programme in North Carolina, including its philosophy and implementation and the research evidence for its effectiveness. In the second part of the essay I will introduce and report on a pupil known to me with whom this intervention is being used. I will also consider the effectiveness of TEACCH with this pupil. ...read more.


The problem is compounded by the organic basis of autism, and the focus of Division TEACCH on lifelong adaptation, which do not lend themselves to superficial cures or clearly defined milestones" (Mesibov, 1998, www.teacch.com). Additionally, research conducted by TEACCH and anecdotal reports suggest that TEACCH shows promise (Lord, 1991; Lord & Schopler, 1989; Lord & Schopler, 1994), but this has not been objectively substantiated as effective by independent researchers. This is confirmed by other researchers, (Haramaki, Hull, Jones & Jordan, 2001), who maintain that there is still a need for larger, independently evaluated and controlled studies, to be completed that directly compare pupil's performance in the TEACCH programme to that of other programmes. In the opinion of this author the work of Ludwig & Harstall (2001) and the comments of Jordan & Powell (1997) exemplify the current situation with regard to the TEACCH programme. These authors noted that while there have been studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of TEACCH it is in individual components and not its entirety where the favourable evidence lies. Therefore if we take the evidence provided above at face value it would be quite appropriate to ask; 'Why is TEACCH so popular with so many practitioners and parents?' Accepting that the availability of short training courses is widespread, the most understandable explanation for its success may be that TEACCH concentrates on making available an environment and structure that is in accord with the particular needs and difficulties of pupils with autism. Additionally, structured classroom organisation can be set up in any teaching setting and class management can be maintained in surroundings that are favourable to all pupils with autism. Taking these issues into consideration it was the communicating of information by visual rather than verbal teaching, concentration on structure to reduce distractions and sustain routine; with classes that are signposted, task defined and with the use of work stations and systems that were the characteristics of TEACCH that appealed to our staff when considering a suitable intervention for one pupil in our care. ...read more.


Parental feedback is encouraging and ongoing and it is reported that many of the stresses, previously reported by T's parent and siblings, have reduced and the programme is 'without doubt worth doing'; a parental comment that supports the work of Schopler et al (1982). Interventions, we believe, should be driven by an ongoing assessment of effectiveness. While at the same time, the programme ought to be individualised and based on appropriate activity-based interventions that address pupils' needs. Moreover transitions are particularly difficult and should be addressed for each pupil throughout the day. Structure can also help to provide a practical response to the question of what is the best educational environment for each pupil with autism. One possible answer, and one that was successful for us, seems to consist of establishing multi-methodology classrooms which utilise communicative, academic, social and environmental supports, thus finding ways of translating our world into comprehensible segments for pupil's with autism. Finally, although the TEACCH approach has resulted in benefits for our pupil we also understand that the approach is broad-based and takes into account all aspects of the lives of people with autism and their families. Although independent skills are emphasised, it is also recognised that life is not all work and that communication, social and leisure skills can be learned by people with autism and can have an important impact on their well being. An important part of any TEACCH curriculum therefore is developing communication skills, pursuing social and leisure interests, and encouraging people with autism to pursue more of these opportunities. It is this cultivating of strengths and interests, rather than dwelling solely on areas of deficit that is another important priority we are working towards in our provision. It is our goal to offer a curriculum within our department that provides breadth and balance while also reacting to the particular and appropriate learning needs of the pupils in our care and it is our belief that the TEACCH programme, with structured teaching used to enhance the development of pupils with ASD, will help us to achieve this goal. ...read more.

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