Friday, 2 May 2008

whatever you do.... this before it is taken down:

Facilitated Communication is still all-too-frequently used with severely autistic children and those with other kinds of developmental mental disability. The idea is that these children, who typically cannot communicate verbally, can communicate through typing. A 'facilitator' holds a child's hand, supposedly steadying it, while the child types responses.

It has been thoroughly proved that it is absolute nonsense: the facilitator is guiding the child's hand to the keys. When the facilitator sees a different picture to the child, the child types what the facilitator sees. There are many, many other problems with the idea. For one thing, the children generally don't look at the keyboard while they are typing. Well, neither do I - I've been typing for 30 years and I know the layout of a keyboard. But I do this by registering my fingers on home keys and I use all my fingers. I cannot type using one finger without looking. Nobody can, as the film demonstrates. Also, the children are perfectly able to point at things, but for some reason suppsedly need someone to hold their hand while they type.

It is absolutely clear that the facilitator is doing the typing. It certainly seems that in some cases, this is partly or entirely unconscious.

There are three major concerns about this:

1. There have been allegations of child abuse and other accusations made through facilitated communication. This has caused serious problems, including families being split, children taken into care, people losing jobs and lives being ruined.

2. It seems to me that nobody has the right to communicate on behalf of another person, even if (perhaps especially if) that person is unable to communicate themselves. Facilitators are passing off their own desires as the child's desires.

3. It gives unwarranted hope to loved ones. Hope without reason is not a good thing because it prevents them focusing on things that actually improve matters and it is all the more devastating when it is shown to be false.

Despite all this, facilitated communication is still widely used and championed by zealots, who will not accept the overwhelming evidence that it simply doesn't work. They are fooling themselves , schools, legislators and others. As usual, other people suffer because of this.

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