Facilitated Communication

See also:    Augmentative Communication    Communication   

Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say.

Internet Resources

Links to over thirty articles.
Many families incur substantial expense pursuing these treatments, and spend time and resources that could be used more productively on behavioral and educational interventions. The use of these treatments does not appear warranted at this time.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Children With Disabilities
Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone is a qualitative study in which people classified as autistic are primary, contributing authors. Unlike any prior research, it draws on the perspectives of people who have previously been perceived as both autistic and retarded and is written from a critical disability studies framework. A basic premise of the book is that people classified as autistic, even those who cannot speak, are thinking people with ideas about their lives and their relationship to the world. I call this orientation the presumption of competence. The wisdom of this lens will become clear with the contributed chapters, for each of the authors describes autism as a social construct behind which lie complex and layered relationships between individuals and society.
Douglas Biklen
This autism discussion group is the longest running general autism discussion forum at yahoogroups. Active members represent all interest groups in autism as well as the general public. The level of expertise and experience gathered here is impressive and should provide those looking for information and direction a valuable resource. I have thirty years of experience in direct care and am a leading FC advocate.
Tom Smith, List Owner
I believe that if I couldn't use FC no one would be willing to put the emotional energy into helping me as they do now. Not only can I discuss what is bothering me, but FC has allowed me to form very close and personal relationships with my staff.
Sue Rubin
In facilitation a parent, friend, teacher, speech language clinician or other communication partner provides physical and emotional support as the person with a communication disability tries to point in order to communicate.
Douglas Biklen
CandLE has been working to develop the use of Facilitated Communication Training in the UK in ways which will make it a useful access method for children and adults with speech and motor impairment. Offers communication and learning assessments for individuals; training in curriculum differentiation, alternative and augmentative communication, training around inclusion in special and mainstream schools and colleges.
Marion Stanton
Provides services to people who are unable to talk, or to talk clearly, as a result of conditions such as cerebral palsy, strokes, acquired brain damage, autism, Down syndrome, or intellectual impairment - anyone whose speech is not clear enough, fluent enough or reliable enough to allow them to get across everything they want to say.
Autism should not be defined as an "affliction endured by sufferers," but as a truly unique and individual experience to be respected and appreciated by all. In so doing, Bill highlights the exquisite sensitivities of our most valuable, wise and loving "teachers."
William Stillman
Accumulated peer-reviewed, empirically-based research studies have not supported the effectiveness of facilitated communication. Equally important, the research has substantiated the potential for great harm
Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Until now we have not had the chance to explore and understand the problems to the extent that is now made possible through the clear and insightful messages of autistic people.
Ludo vande Kerckhove
Facilitated communication (FC) is a technique that involves provision of physical support to an individual who has few or no verbal communication skills in order to allow that person to point or type. There have been many papers published that have failed to validate FC. This study examines reading ability in a group of individuals considered to have mental retardation who also use FC. Nine individuals and their regular facilitators participated in a controlled study in which FC users were asked to respond to multiple-choice, vocabulary-based computer game items in both nonblind and blind conditions. Sessions were taped, analyzed, and scored. Although none of the participants had revealed literacy in previous assessments, four responded to game items at a greater-than-chance level.
Marjorie F. Olney
These results provide unequivocal evidence for facilitator control of typing during facilitated communication.
Barbara Montee, Raymond Miltenberger, and David Wittrock
Screen candidates and obtain consent. Assess individuals' baseline communication skills. Formalize program by an interdisciplinary treatment team. Educate and train staff, especially in validation and empirical verification of the communication.
Natalie Russo, NYS Commission on Quality of Care
Some speech therapists and other special-education providers are using this procedure for nonverbal individuals with autism or severe mental retardation. Proponents claim that it enables such individuals to communicate. However, many scientific studies have demonstrated that the procedure is not valid because the outcome is actually determined by the "facilitator." [
James Laidler
The idea behind facilitated communication is that a person like Craig lacks enough coordination to point accurately to letters or icons on a piece of paper or keyboard and thus cannot indicate the words he thinks. The theory is that such people may achieve better coordination if they have something to push against. Resistance. In most cases an aide -- parent, teacher, friend -- supports the user's wrist and/or pointing fingers, then subtly exerts backward pressure, requiring the user to push forward.
Linda Lawson
Regardless of what individuals believe about facilitated communication, its worth must ultimately be determined by whether or not it does what it is purported to do.
Richard Simpson
The facilitator normally supports a client's hand, wrist or arm while that person uses a communicator to spell out words, phrases or sentences.
National Autistic Society
Facilitated communication not only lacks its own empirical support, but contradicts a long-standing body of research on autism, communication, and learning.
Marcia Datlow Smith, Ronald Belcher
Two companies that market communication devices for autistic or other developmentally-disabled individuals with severe communication disabilities have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated claims that the devices enable such individuals to communicate through the process of "facilitated communication." The devices at issue are similar to a typewriter, computer, or other alphabet display chart, and cost from $130 to $1,100.
Federal Trade Commission
Articles, abstracts and other information related to facilitated communication, a method of assisting people who cannot speak to communicate through typing.
Offers training and consultation services to persons involved with FC, including parents, professionals, and individuals with motoric and communication differences; support to families and individuals; public education. Holds monthly meetings.
People who utilize facilitated communication need to expand their competency for communicating across home, school, work, and community settings.
Nancy Kalina
The development of these practice standards has come about as a result of discussions with various agencies and individuals involved in the development of Facilitated Communication Training (FCT) in the UK and a general consensus that there is a need for some common agreement in regard to the way in which FCT is practiced.
Marion Stanton, Rosemary Crossley
Although a voodoo science seldom completely evaporates, one can hope that the FC farce, involving a mysterious malady more pervasive around the world than Down's syndrome, is finally coming to an end.
Martin Gardner
In the first case, in Ulster County, a 16 year-old autistic girl with no speech had allegedly accused her father and grandfathers of sexual molestation, using F/C (the father told ARRI that both grandfathers had been dead many years. The "facilitator" had never bothered to ask about them.). There was no physical evidence, nor any other kind of evidence, to support the allegations. Both parents faced criminal charges--the father, for alleged molestation, and the mother, for not reporting the father. The case was before the court for over 10 months. In the second case, a 10-year-old Down Syndrome girl was said to have used F/C to accuse her father of sexual molestation. Although this girl had some capacity to speak, the allegations were (purportedly) made only through the "facilitator," and never through speech. The father was forced to move out of the family home in January and faced a jail sentence if the allegations were found to be true. Again, there was no physical evidence of abuse.
A full and complete explanation for the FC phenomenon is still forthcoming, but clearly there are parallels with the ideomotor responses that direct dowsing sticks and the Ouija board.
Gina Green
As one parent said, even if the technique is merely an illusion, it is an illusion that they wish to continue.
C. Nagy
Before discounting the potential competence of individuals with disabilities, researchers have the obligation to question the competence of their research designs.
Douglas Biklen
I'm a person who doesn't talk with my mouth. I'm a teenager who has worked hard to learn to type to communicate. I have been typing since I was nine. People who can't talk really want to communicate. You can help them. My mother loves me. She helped me learn to type. Please understand that people who don't talk can be very smart.
Jaison Hart
We are frankly shocked and dismayed that a PBS program ("Prisoners of Silence"), of all things, would adopt a particular thesis and then skew information and selectively withhold contradictory evidence in order to make everything point toward one conclusion, misleading the viewing audience in the process.
Robert Hill, John Harvith
Those with classic autism often talk more like a balky tape recorder. They may be limited to echolalia repeating words from songs, television and the environment in meaningless ways, or lapse into making growling incoherent sounds. Chandima Rajapatirana, a 32-year-old autistic man from Potomac, Md., writes about how hard it is for him to coordinate the working parts of his body and brain to produce speech. He and others have expressed the anxiety they feel about trying to speak and failing. Jamie Burke, a 19-year-old high school senior from Syracuse, N.Y., puts it this way: "The fears that live in the silly-sounding voice made me feel like people would laugh at me." Jamie didn't tell me this in spoken words. I watched him type his answers to my questions using a lightweight keyboard. His mom, Sheree, held the keyboard as Jamie typed one-handed. After he finished each answer, he would read it to me aloud. He speaks clearly with good intonation and has worked hard to achieve this, but he still finds it difficult to speak without typing first.
Claudia Wallis, TIME
FC speakers are just like all other people in their dreams of having many close and loving friendships. They have, however, some problems in making those dreams real. The purpose of this article is to share thoughts that the two of us have had about our friendship and what we have learned from it. It is partly based on our personal experiences, but we hope to raise issues that are common ones for many people.
Eugene Marcus, Mayer Shevin
Not only are the people with disabilities unable to respond accurately to label or describe stimuli unseen by their assistants, but that the responses are controlled by the assistants.
John Jacobson, James Mulick, Allen Schwartz
My goal in this paper is to define how I view success in fc, and make sure that professionals defend my right to do that. I know some who make it their goal, but we need others.
Eugene Marcus
Inside the Edge is a documentary written and narrated by Jamie Burke, a 15-year-old high school student with autism. In this video, he tells of his personal experiences with the use of facilitated communication, developing speech, and inclusive schooling. Jamie has used FC since his pre-school days; during the past few years, he has become independent in his typing, has learned to read out loud what he has previously typed, and is increasingly able to speak meaningfully without previously typing his words.
Jamie Burke
To facilitate is to make easier. The physical support provided people with Down syndrome described in the literature on facilitated communication training allows for the efficient and affective accessing of communication devices.
Christopher Kliewer
The diagnostic link between lack of speech (in the absence of deafness or obvious structural impairment) and mental retardation depends on the premise that behaviour is in general an accurate reflection of internal mental processes, and that nothing is inhibiting the overt production of communication and "masking" more sophisticated language. This premise is not always valid, and the methods for determining whether it is valid may not be the ones now practised in the field of mental retardation psychology. This target article reviews several cases in which people with deafness, physical handicap, and learning disabilities were reclassified out of the category of mental retardation. The recent debate over facilitated communication" suggests that the burden of proof may lie with those who hold that the actual expressive communication of people diagnosed as mentally retarded does adequately represent their internal language.
Chris Borthwick, Rosemary Crossley
...when some of us do type that we indeed cannot do some or all of those things, and that typing didn't change anything, people utterly ignore us and go on saying the same nonsense versions of our lives. It appears that typing involves a fair bit of glamour-magic that parents in particular are susceptible to deception by. This deception teaches them that no matter what we say, we're still who they think we are, not who we actually are, and our skill profile is very different than it actually is.
The Doman method is based upon incorrect knowledge of the brain and the unverified assumption that people with brain damage can be cured by continuous exercise and stimulation termed patterning.
Sadahiko Nakajima, Skeptical Inquirer
Preliminary results shows that autistic subjects actually use a special style of writing; this finding supports the hypothesis that texts are the fruit of individual production of autistic subjects, not inevitably influenced by facilitators.
Arjuna Tuzzi, Marisa Cemin, Marco Castagna
Both among the opponents and the supporters of FC there are those who have a passion to disbelieve and others who personally believe but advocate public silence about the truth.
Yechiel Menachem Sitzman
These children cannot speak. No one knows what's going on inside their heads. They're autistic. Tonight on FRONTLINE, the explosive story of a revolutionary method of communication.
Jon Palfreman, PBS
In 1993 and 1994 while I was doing my ten dollar an hour job and using a new communication technique with my clients (i.e. facililtated communication), I slowly realized that I was talking to God's "agents".
Tom Smith (Jed), Facilitator
I feel I have already proven myself over and over many times for many people in many settings; yet there are still some stubborn, narrow-minded, conniving people who seek to deny that I am real and have even tried to trick and/or coerce me into testing of a negative, confrontational manner.
Sharisa Joy Kochmeister
APA adopts the position that facilitated communication is a controversial and unproved communicative procedure with no scientifically demonstrated support for its efficacy.
People who are unable to communicate are obviously at increased risk of abuse. The reporting of abuse through facilitated communication has already allowed many people with communication impairment to challenge their exploitation.
Stephen Drake
I fervently hope that someday when people look back at me as a classmate, a speaker and presenter, or whatever other role I may yet play in this life, they will reflect not on the strangeness of my disabilities but on my excellent reputation, the examples I set, the uniqueness of my humanity, my ability to overcome my own barriers as well as those of society, and the impact my presence has had on each of them and their lives. That is certainly how I will think about all of the people with whom I come in contact in my life.
Sharisa Joy Kochmeister
Supports the use of facilitated communication (FC) in Vermont by providing education, training and technical assistance, developing resources, disseminating information, and guiding the development and use of best practices.
FCT is a strategy for teaching individuals with severe communication impairments to use communication aids with their hands. In FCT a communication partner (facilitator) helps the communication aid user overcome neuro-motor problems and develop functional movement patterns. The immediate aim in FCT is to allow the aid user to make choices and to communicate in a way that has been impossible previously.
Alan Kurtz

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This page was last updated on 5 November 2008, 3:48 pm
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