The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced today that its program for the Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children, known as TEACCH, will be moved organizationally under the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program, effective when a new TEACCH director is appointed later this year. AHEC is a division of the School of Medicine led by Thomas J. Bacon, executive associate dean and director.
With nine regional centers across the state and the Carolina Living and Learning Center, a residential center in Pittsboro, TEACCH is a clinical, training, and research program for individuals of all ages and skill levels with autism spectrum disorders. Established in the early 1970s by Eric Schopler and colleagues, the TEACCH program has worked with thousands of individuals with autism and their families. TEACCH faculty members will continue to hold appointments in the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine.
AHEC also has nine separate regional centers around the state, works to meet the state’s health and health workforce needs by providing educational programs in partnership with academic institutions, health care agencies, and other organizations committed to improving the health of the people of North Carolina.
“TEACCH and AHEC both have a strong presence throughout North Carolina and long histories of service to our state,” said William L. Roper, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “We believe this partnership will boost collaboration and improve services for TEACCH patients and their families.”
TEACCH currently reports to the dean’s office of the School of Medicine. Margaret B. Dardess, PhD, JD, associate vice chancellor for strategic alliances in the School of Medicine, is interim executive director.
Working with TEACCH directors and staff, Dardess has begun a strategic review of TEACCH to determine the most appropriate path for the organization moving forward, while ensuring the program’s continued focus on individuals with autism and their families. Dardess will initiate a search for an executive director of TEACCH this summer, which will involve parents, community leaders, health care professionals and others who have an interest in the future of TEACCH.