An evaluation of the TEACCH approach for teaching functional skills to adults with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities

Andrew M.H. Siu (Corresponding Author), Zuie Lin, Joanna Chung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Treatment & Education of Autistic and Communication Related Handicapped Children (TEACCH) approach has been widely adopted around the world, but most previous studies focus on applying it to teaching children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who have high functioning or without intellectual disabilities. Aims: This study evaluated the application and effectiveness of a TEACCH approach in teaching functional skills to young adults with ASD who have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Methods and procedures: The study employed an experimental design which compared the training goal attainment of an experimental (n = 32) and a comparison (n = 31) group. We administered the TEACCH Transitional Assessment Profile (TTAP) to identify suitable areas of training and devised three individualized training goals for each participant using the goal attainment scaling (GAS) methodology. The experimental group participated in a standardized, individualized, 20-session training program based on the TEACCH approach, on top of their regular training in day activity centers. Results: All the participants showed improvements in functional skills over the baseline, mid-program, and post-program assessments (F = 146.66, p <.001). The experimental group had significantly larger improvement in the GAS scores than the comparison group (F = 15.40, p <.001). There were no significant changes between the pre- and post-program TTAP scores of both groups. Conclusions and implications: The TEACCH approach is effective in teaching specific functional skills to young adults with ASD and mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The clinical and research implications of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Adults
  • Autism
  • Evaluation
  • Functional skills
  • Intellectual disabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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