Last week, our BCBA asked if I had heard of TEEACH? I was not completely familiar with it but now I feel like I could be an expert! Ha! Many of you have asked questions recently about how I set up Cody’s Independent Work System in our home but before I get into that, why am I doing this and what is TEEACH?
Independent work task systems are an evidence-based practice for children who need structure to be able to work on his or her own. For Cody, there are times between therapies or activities, where he will self-stimulation more often. Though self- stimulation may seem harmless, it is unproductive and interferes with his learning. It also increases social stigmatization and therefore should be discouraged. No matter how repetitive a behavior is, it can be reduced so it does not become a bigger problem down the road. Reducing a child’s self-stimulation can be a complicated process, and definitely will not happen overnight. The process involves gradually drawing a child away from his stim habits and providing him with more productive activities. After researching some, the best approach is to slowly eliminate the time Cody spends “stimming” by interrupting him during stimming and providing him with an independent work task to complete instead. Sometimes, as a Mom, I interrupt his stimming and take opportunities to steal a few extra hugs and kisses from him!
So what is TEEACH?
“The TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication related Handicapped Children) method is based on the premise that people with autism are predominantly visual learners, so intervention strategies focus on physical and visual structure, schedules, work systems and task organization. Individualized systems aim to address difficulties with communication, organization, generalization, concepts, sensory processing, change and relating to others.”
Not only are we working on Cody’s stim behavior but this system is a great introduction to school structure and preparing him for Kindergarten in a few years.
So, how did I set up his work task system?
The supplies needed are simple:
- Plastic shoe boxes with lids
- A TON of adhesive Velcro
- and A Dollar Tree Store nearby!
The first thing you will want to do is create a Board on Pinterest and search Independent Work Tasks. Of course ask all your educator friends too as they often will organize/structure their classrooms like this too. Pin different tasks that are developmental appropriate for your child. This is when the wheels will start spinning of ideas you can create for each task. Make a list of supplies you need from your local dollar store while reading the task ideas from Pinterest.
Plan on spending about 6-8 total hours to complete your system. The initial set up will take longer to get the basics completed but you will be able to reuse some of these supplies to create new tasks and keep it fresh and engaging for your child. Tasks should be switched out every 2-4 weeks or when your child has mastered the task.
While strolling down the aisles at the dollar store, be thinking where you will set up your system in your home. Your child will need a place to complete the task near where you set up your boxes and be able to reach all the tasks to independently grab on their own. I chose the kitchen. I found a $20 bookcase on my local online garage sale, cleaned it up and it worked perfect! Cody’s system is near my kitchen table to complete his tasks.
Here are a few golden rules while setting up:
- We work from left to right (it’s a literacy thing).
- Needs to be a close ended activity. The system only contains the work that needs to be done (no extra pieces).
- Work stays completed until I can check his work. This way Cody values his task he completed too.
- Use nonverbal prompts only to teach the skill (makes it easier to fade support).
- Tasks have clear beginnings and ends (they have to know where to start and when it’s over)
- Cody never will see me disassembling his work (it demeans his efforts).
- They tasks that don’t require a partner (again, has to be independent).
Examples of Cody’s tasks. This first round I incorporated fine motor, hand writing, spelling, counting and sorting, colors and shapes.
I also created a project sheet with the 3 boxes. (image below) I can add a box card for the designated boxes we will be completing. This gives clear direction to Cody on which box to grab and complete. Cody will then take the card off his project sheet, hand it to me or therapist once he finishes so I can then check his work. After providing a little praise, I can have him place the card back on box and place back on shelf. He will then follow these steps for the other 2 tasks.
Lastly, anything new given to Cody needs to be fully taught. The great and amazing thing about him is he only has to be taught once and he never forgets. Our therapists will be involved with this new system helping us get the instruction and structure down first before we include as part of our daily work. Notice below, I am using a 3 step visual instruction card that I have included with each task.
Follow along with us on Cody’s page on Face Book, Autism Through His Eyes to watch his progress with these efforts and if we receive the results we are hoping for. You are welcome to message or comment any detailed questions on setting of your work task system too. Hope you find this helpful for those asking!