The TEACCH program for children and adults with autism: a meta-analysis of intervention studies

Clin Psychol Rev. 2013 Dec;33(8):940-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.07.005. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


The intervention program for autism known as Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) is considered an emerging practice for autism. In the present study we used state-of-the-art meta-analytical procedures to examine the pooled clinical effects of TEACCH in a variety of outcomes. A total of 13 studies were selected for meta-analysis totaling 172 individuals with autism exposed to TEACCH. Standardized measures of perceptual, motor, adaptive, verbal and cognitive skills were identified as treatment outcomes. We used inverse-variance weighted random effects meta-analysis supplemented with quality assessment, sensitivity analysis, meta-regression, and heterogeneity and publication bias tests. The results suggested that TEACCH effects on perceptual, motor, verbal and cognitive skills were of small magnitude in the meta-analyzed studies. Effects over adaptive behavioral repertoires including communication, activities of daily living, and motor functioning were within the negligible to small range. There were moderate to large gains in social behavior and maladaptive behavior. The effects of the TEACCH program were not moderated by aspects of the intervention such as duration (total weeks), intensity (hours per week), and setting (home-based vs. center-based). While the present meta-analysis provided limited support for the TEACCH program as a comprehensive intervention, our results should be considered exploratory owing to the limited pool of studies available.

Keywords: AA-PEP; ASD; Adolescent and Adult Psychoeducational Profile; Autism; Autism spectrum disorders; CI; Confidence interval; ES; Effect size; M-P-R; Merrill-Palmer—Revised Scales of Development; Meta-analysis; Outcome research; PEP-R; Psychoeducational Profile Revised; TEACCH; Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children; VABS; Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Social Behavior
  • Treatment Outcome