Facilitated communication shown in a 1993 PBS documentary, in which a disabled person's right hand is helped to move (or simply pulled) by a faciliator across a board showing the alphabet. The image shows a principal criticism of FC: that often the person is not looking at the board, so they cannot really be signing out a message.
|Claims||Disabled people may be able to communicate by pointing at letters or with a keyboard if physically held and assisted by an expert facilitator.|
|Related fields||Alternative medicine|
|Year proposed||Late 20th century|
|Original proponents||Rosemary Crossley|
|Subsequent proponents||Douglas Biklen|
Facilitated Communication (FC), or supported typing, is a discredited technique used by some caregivers and educators in an attempt to assist people with severe educational and communication disabilities. The technique involves providing an alphabet board, or keyboard. The facilitator holds or gently touches the disabled person's arm or hand during this process and attempts to help them move their hand and amplify their gestures. In addition to providing physical support needed for typing or pointing, the facilitator provides verbal prompts and moral support. In addition to human touch assistance, the facilitator's belief in their communication partner's ability to communicate seems to be a key component of the technique.
There is widespread agreement within the scientific community and multiple disability advocacy organizations that facilitators, not the person with the communication disability, are the source of all or most messages obtained through FC, by forcing the arm of the patient towards answers they expect to see or that form intelligible language. Studies asking about things the facilitator cannot know (for example showing the patient but not the facilitator an object) have confirmed this, showing that a facilitator is generally unable to ‘help’ the patient sign out the answer to a question where they do not know what the answer should be. In addition, several extremely dubious cases have been reported by investigators in which disabled persons are claimed to be signing a coherent message while their eyes are closed, or they are looking away from or showing no particular interest in the letter board. Some facilitators have countered that FC cannot be clearly disproven by this method, since a testing environment might feel confrontational and alienating to the subject. Some persons formerly treated using FC have moved to typing without help.
Most experts in disability studies consider FC to be a pseudoscience that causes great risk and emotional distress to people with communication disabilities, their families and their caregivers. In 2015, Sweden banned the use of FC in special needs schools.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Organizations that oppose facilitated communication
- 4 The question of authorship
- 5 Facilitated Communication and the media
- 6 Validation
- 7 Skepticism
- 8 Sexual abuse allegations and facilitator misconduct
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Facilitated Communication is promoted as a means to assist people with severe communication disabilities in pointing to letters on an alphabet board, keyboard or other device so that they can communicate independently. It also appears in the literature as "supported typing", "progressive kinesthetic feedback", and "written output communication enhancement", and is linked closely with the unproven "rapid prompting method" (RPM) or "informative pointing".
The person with disabilities, who is often not able to rely on speech to communicate, is referred to as the communication partner. The caregiver, educator or other provider offering physical support to the person with disabilities is called the facilitator. The facilitator holds or gently touches the communication partner's elbow, wrist, hand, sleeve or other parts of the body while the communication partner points to letters of the alphabet printed on a piece of paper or laminated cardboard, letters on an alphabet board, laptop, keyboard or mobile communication device such as an iPad.
The Canon Communicator, a small, portable, lightweight device that printed a tape of letters when activated, was popular with early FC users. However, two companies, Crestwood Co. of Glendale, Wisconsin and Abovo Co. of Chicopee, Massachusetts, would later be charged by the Federal Trade Commission for making "false and unsubstantiated claims" that the device could enable people with autism and other disabilities to communicate using FC. The companies settled and stopped mentioning FC in their advertising campaigns.
Proponents of FC claim that motor issues (e.g., the neurological condition of apraxia) prevent people with autism from communicating effectively. Although this claim is unsubstantiated (many people with autism have no difficulty pointing to or picking up objects independently, but do exhibit severe communication difficulties characteristic of the disorder), proponents argue that physical support and touch are necessary components of communicating through FC. Candidates for FC, presumably, "lack confidence in their abilities" and physical support, purportedly, helps them overcome this obstacle to communication.
The role of the facilitator is depicted in newspaper articles, journal articles, and training manuals as integral to helping the person with disabilities point to letters (by holding his or her finger or hand), reducing or eliminating uncontrollable arm movements (shaking or flapping), avoiding mistakes in typing, controlling the initiation of movement, and speaking words aloud. As well as physical support in typing, the facilitator provides verbal prompts and moral support. Along with human touch, the facilitator's belief in their communication partner's ability to communicate is seen to be a key component of the technique.
The FC movement may be traced back to the 1960s in Denmark where it failed to take hold because of lack of scientific evidence. FC experienced a period of rapid growth and popularity in Australia in the 1970-1980s, largely due to the efforts of special educator Rosemary Crossley. Arthur Schawlow, a Nobel laureate whose son was autistic, and Douglas Biklen, then a special education professor from Syracuse University who observed Crossley's work in Australia, are credited with popularizing FC in the United States in the late 1980s, early 1990s. FC has also received attention in many other parts of the world: Canada, Germany, Austria, Finland, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Asia.
Early adopters of the technique praised FC for its apparent simplicity. FC was promoted as a "teaching strategy" and not an experimental or even risky technique that required objective evaluation or close monitoring. As early as 1991, however, more than 40 empirical studies published in peer-reviewed journals involving more than 400 people with autism not only failed to demonstrate FC's efficacy, but indicated that any success reported by proponents of the technique was due to facilitator influence. Many researchers attribute facilitator influence, for the most part, to non-conscious movements. It is thought that facilitators are genuinely unaware that they, not their client or family member, are controlling the communications.
In 1994 the American Psychological Association (APA), followed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) passed a resolution cautioning practitioners against the use of FC, citing lack of scientific evidence. The APA also recommended that information obtained via FC should not be used to confirm or deny allegations of abuse or make diagnostic or treatment decisions. In recognition of continued scientific evidence against the technique, other organizations joined suit, passing their own resolutions advising their membership to avoid the technique. A British government report concluded in 1998 that 'the phenomenon fails to materialise once facilitator effects have been controlled. It would be hard to justify further research on this'.
By 2001 Mark P. Mostert of Regent University School of Education in Virginia Beach, Virginia reported in the second of his comprehensive reviews of peer-reviewed literature investigating FC that "Facilitated Communication (FC) had largely been empirically discredited as an effective intervention for previously uncommunicative persons with disabilities, especially those with autism and related disorders. Key empirical findings consistently showed that the facilitator and not the client initiated communication."
Many people believed FC had passed its peak, dismissing it as a fad and characterizing it as pseudo-scientific. However, despite these findings, FC proponents continued their adherence to the technique, dismissing empirical investigations as irrelevant, flawed or unnecessary, characterized FC as an "effective and legitimate intervention" in pro-FC literature, and refused to change their minds or admit their mistakes. The FC movement retained popularity in some parts of the United States, Australia, and Germany, and continued to be used in many countries as of 2014[update].
"All the newer pro-FC studies operate from the premise that FC works and is a legitimate practice to be used in investigating any number of other phenomena related to people with autism and other related severe communication problems. Such assumptions increasingly morph FC into a valid intervention among readers who are unaware of the empirical dismissal of the intervention and who might not be skilled in distinguishing solid from suspect research. In this regard, it is likely that FC will continue to reinforce the assumptions of efficacy among parents and practitioners. These perceptions will continue to be reinforced by professional organizations such as the Facilitated Communication Institute at Syracuse University, a fairly wide acceptance of FC internationally, and the vacuum created by few if any future solid empirical studies that are likely to dissuade the faithful."— Mostert, Facilitated Communication and Its Legitimacy - Twenty-first century developments, 
Organizations that oppose facilitated communication
- The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), previously called the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR)
- The American Psychiatric Association Council of Representatives (APACR)
- The American Psychological Association (APA)
- The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
- The Association for Science in Autism Treatment
- Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan (BAAM)
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Heilpädagogische Forschung
- The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC)
- The New York State Department of Health
- The New Zealand Ministries of Health and Education
- The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network
- Socialstyrelsen (The National Board of Health and Welfare, Sweden)
- Speech Pathology Australia
- The Swedish Autism and Asperger Association
- The Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals and Disabilities Inc. (VALID)
One of the central questions regarding Facilitated Communication is who is really doing the communicating. The ultimate goal of using such a technique, as suggested by Stephen Von Tetzchner, professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, is genuine communication, in which the messages obtained through FC originate from the person with disabilities and are not, in any way, influenced by the facilitator. However, as von Tetzchner also points out, there are two other potential outcomes of FC:
- automatic communication, in which the messages are produced by the facilitator without the communication partner's awareness (similar to automatic writing); and
- false communication, in which the messages are consciously produced by the facilitator to further his or her own goals.
Proponents of Facilitated Communication
Facilitators using the technique reported unexpected literacy skills in people otherwise thought to be nonverbal, illiterate and incapable of learning more than basic life skills. They proposed that FC unlocked the thoughts and feelings of moderately to severely impaired individuals inaccessible by traditional means. Naturally, parents reported their joy and excitement upon seeing their child, with his or her facilitator, type "I love you" for the first time. Educators and care givers claimed students who were not directly instructed in reading, writing or mathematics were, through FC, capable of expressing complex thoughts through writing and solving multiplication and long division problems. It was felt that people with disabilities were, themselves, able to write books and poetry, to advocate for better treatment of people with disabilities, express a desire to go to college or leave their care facility, get married, have sexual relations, decide important medical issues, and, in some cases, report abuses allegedly occurring in their homes, despite being physically supported in their typing by facilitators. FC seemed to bring with it the hope of "shattering old beliefs and methods of working with autistics...and opening doors to new beliefs and methods that no one can yet conceive."
FC workshops, training materials, newsletters and newspaper accounts of its use contained emotionally compelling stories—alleged breakthroughs using FC—and, often, espoused the sentiment that FC could empower people with disabilities to "speak" for themselves for the first time. These materials, authored by "persuasive, sincere, authoritative-sounding individuals"—university professors, psychologists, speech-language pathologists—helped set up an ideologic mindset that led many well-meaning facilitators into a cognitive trap rife with confirmation bias and self-deception with one of the key assertions being "assume competence on the part of the communication partner without testing that assumption."
Guidelines for facilitators also included instructions to prevent errors during facilitation (by pulling back on the communication partner's hand), expect the emergence of hidden skills and sensitive personal information, use anecdotal data to validate authorship, avoid objective scrutiny, and emphasize "facilitated" over spoken communication. Through the guise of public opinion and qualitative studies, rather than the systematic gathering of empirical data through quantitative studies, facilitators were not only convinced of FC's efficacy, but ready to overturn more than 40 years of autism research.
Despite claims from FC promoters that autism is a motor control and emotional (i.e. confidence) problem that can be overcome with physical support, autism is, largely, accepted in the academic and clinical arenas as being a neurological problem often accompanied by intellectual disabilities. A core feature of autism is severe communication problems which cannot be overcome simply by supportively holding onto someone's hand.
Proponents claim that a few individuals using FC have developed the ability to type independently or with minimal support (e.g., a light touch to the shoulder or to the back of the neck). Facilitators attributing messages obtained through FC to their communication partners have co-authored books, articles and plays. These, seemingly, addressed the miraculous, freeing nature of FC and, purportedly, gave outsiders a glimpse of the inner worlds of people with autism: Annie's Coming Out (1980), The Secret World of Arthur Wold (1993), Out of Silence (1994), In Dark Hours I Find My Way (1995), Miracles (1997), The Mind Tree (2003), and I am Intelligent (2012), to name a few.
With their facilitators attending classes, assisting them in typing out class notes, completing homework and taking tests, some people with autism reliant on FC even graduated from high school or college. However, these claims of independent typing, to date, are anecdotal and have not been substantiated by objective means.
Critics of Facilitated Communication
People more critical of the technique noticed that, while the facilitators were intent on watching the letter board, their communication partners were often distracted, staring off into space, rolling around on the floor while facilitating, falling asleep, or otherwise not paying attention. Sometimes the communication partners spoke words that conflicted with the words being typed. The language structures and vocabulary used by children being facilitated often exceeded what would normally be considered appropriate for their age and experience. Supposedly highly competent individuals gave wrong answers to simple questions or information that should have been readily known (e.g. the name of the family dog, the names of family members, the spelling of their own name). Still others questioned why people with autism who exhibit excellent fine motor skills needed to have physical support from facilitators in order to point to a keyboard while many people with autism type independently.
Bernard Rimland, a research psychologist who founded the Autism Research Institute of San Diego and the Autism Society of America, asked "How is it possible that an autistic kid can pick up the last tiny crumbs of potato chips off a plate but not have sufficient motor coordination to type the letter E?" Howard Shane, director of the Center for Communication Enhancement at Children's Hospital in Boston and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, finds it "curious that those being facilitated can only create [these] insightful comments" when helped by an assistant. Why, when technology allowed people with severe disabilities the opportunity to access independent communication with even the slightest movement (e.g., an eye wink, movement of an eyebrow, a puff of air into a straw), would a facilitator need to hold their hand?
Researchers familiar with the ideomotor, Clever Hans, or Ouija effect, noticed small movements made by the facilitators; movements of which the facilitator was often unaware. All this raised concerns about authorship, the role facilitators have in communicating through FC, and the time facilitating took away from the pursuit of scientifically proven communication techniques. Psychologist Adrienne Perry cautioned: "The adult or child with autism is made a 'screen' for a facilitator's hostilities, hopes, beliefs or suspicions" and that "concentrating on this method could deprive people of the chance to learn other skills that would be more useful to them."
While proponents insist that FC "should never involve guiding a person as he or she attempts to point or type," facilitators can and do influence facilitated movements without realizing it. Gina Green, director of research for the New England Center for Autism in Massachusetts, E.K. Shriver Center for Mental Retardation, and Northeastern University, stated: "Very subtle influence can affect people's behavior. It doesn't even have to be touch. It can be the slightest sound, the slightest visual cue." And, in regards to videotapes in which it appears the person with autism is typing independently, "You can edit videotape and show whatever you want. They'll show you a close-up of the finger moving across the keyboard...but you're not getting what else is going on."
Pat Mirenda, professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia and co-author David R. Beukelman, Barkley Professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, decided not to include FC in revised versions of their textbook Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Supporting Children and Adults with Complex Communication Needs. Earlier versions of the textbook are quoted in pro-FC literature. In 2015, Mirenda stated, "I came to recognize (painfully, to be honest) that my advocacy stance biased me to interpret what I saw on videotapes as independent typing even though other explanations were more plausible (e.g., subtle prompting, resulting in an ideomotor effect), and that, even if independent typing did occur subsequent to FC exposure, only correlational - but definitely not causal - evidence exists with regard to its relationship to FC. In short, I do not endorse FC as a communication or instructional technique, and I do not support its use."
Stephen N. Calculator of the University of New Hampshire, an early proponent of FC who also distanced himself from the movement because he could not replicate claims of independent communication in his own research studies, summed up the importance of determining the extent of facilitator influence: "The consequences of falsely attributing messages to communicators, rather than facilitators, continue to have significant financial, social and moral ramifications. Facilitators must take extraordinary precautions to assure that they are not unduly influencing messages and thereby impinging on communicators' freedom of speech. The rights of individuals to express their thoughts and ideas should not be circumvented by facilitators who communicate for them, unwilling or not."
Testifying in the Anna Stubblefield court case, psychology professor James Todd stated in court (FC) "It's become the single most scientifically discredited intervention in all of developmental disabilities." Every "methodologically sound" study of FC has show it invalid.
Leaders in the FC movement, such as Crossley from Australia and Biklen in the United States, insist that communications by FC occur independent from the facilitator, whose role is to serve as a passive recipient of the messages, and rely on anecdotal and observational data (e.g., the existence of unique spellings or unexpected skills or revelations made during the communication session) in order to back up their claims. Individuals—parents and researchers alike—who questioned the stance and supported evaluating FC by objective methods were accused of being "oppressors of the disabled," told they were narrow-minded, outmoded, evil, jealous they weren't the ones to discover FC, and, in some cases, accused of hate speech for advocating a more studied approach.
Mostert wrote in 2001, "FC proponents must be encouraged to subject their claims to further scientific verification, the claims of anecdotal evidence notwithstanding. If any small part of FC is ever to be found effective or even plausible, it is abundantly clear that only by careful use of controlled experimental methods will this be established." Still, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, researchers and parents maintain that controlled testing, where the facilitator does not already know the answers to questions and, therefore, cannot inadvertently or purposefully cue their communication partner to obtain the desired answer, is the only way to determine whether or not the communications are truly independent. They caution that even though the facilitator may feel like he or she is not moving the other person's hand and that the messages are originating from the communication partner, the facilitator, may, indeed, be providing cues that lead to specific letters on the keyboard.
Kathleen M. Dillon, professor of psychology at Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts says, "This is a hard reality to grasp." As Julie Riggot wrote in an article for Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, "Sometimes, the influence of the facilitator is less obvious, because the facilitator might not hold the person's hand, but support an arm or touch a shoulder--or even simply observe the typing." Because cueing is often subtle and is not possible to observe the influence of the facilitator in all instances where it might occur, naked-eye, informal observations and facilitator reports have proven unreliable in determining authorship. Many facilitators deny they are in any way influencing their communication partners' movements, even when faced with evidence to the contrary.
Facilitated Communication and the media
Despite cautions from people like Eric Schopler, then director of an autism education program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and editor of the Journal of Autism, that promoting facilitated communication with no empirical evidence was "reckless," stories of FC's success were reported (and continue to be reported) in magazines such as Reader's Digest, in movies and plays, and on television shows such as ABC's 20/20 Prime Time Live with Diane Sawyer. Thousands of people—teachers, parents, speech pathologists, psychologists—struggling to find a way to communicate with individuals who, otherwise, demonstrated little ability to use spoken word to communicate their wants and needs—adopted FC with "blinding speed" with little public scrutiny or debate.
Of FC's rapid rise in popularity, particularly in the United States, doctors, John W. Jacobson, James A. Mulick, and Allen A. Schwartz wrote: "The general acceptance of FC by the public and segments of the professional community has called into question the rigor with which educational and therapeutic interventions are evaluated in publicly funded programs and the ability of many professionals to critically assess the procedures they use. As such, FC serves as a case study in how the public and, alarmingly, some professionals, fail to recognize the role of science in distinguishing truth from falsity and its applicability to assessing the value of treatment modalities."
James Randi, a magician familiar with the ideomotor effect commonly attributed to dowsing and later linked to FC, put it more succinctly when he called facilitated communication "a crock that does more harm than good by raising false hopes among families of autistic children" after he was called in to investigate the technique at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1992. The James Randi Educational Foundation has offered a million-dollar prize "to a valid demonstration of facilitated communication." In 2009, Randi responded in an interview for the Rom Houben case, where it was shown that messages from a Belgian man who was believed to be in a coma for 23-years were generated by the facilitator. "Our prize is still there."
This issue of testing the messages obtained through Facilitated Communication has, historically, been problematic for those in the FC community who support its use. Proponents claim that testing is demeaning to the disabled person, that the testing environment creates performance anxiety, or that those being facilitated may purposely produce nonsense, refuse to respond or give wrong answers to counteract the negative attitudes of those who are skeptical of the technique. In 1992, when FC was fairly new to the United States, Douglas Biklen was quoted in The Washington Post as saying he "welcomed scientific studies", but the reporter, Amanda Spake went on to explain, "he doesn't want to do them. He's an educator, not a psychiatrist, and like other educators who have written about facilitated communication, he is comfortable with the fact that there is often a lag time between the application of a new method and its scientific validation."
"We are not speaking of obscure or controversial techniques," James T. Todd, psychologist from Eastern Michigan University, wrote in a 2012 article for Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention, "We are speaking of authorship validation by selectively presenting different information to two people then observing what is produced."
Despite the FC community's reluctance to participate in testing, researchers outside the community did set up double-blind testing in an attempt to identify in a controlled way who was doing the communicating. Some testing was conducted as a direct response to a growing number of cases involving sexual abuse allegations that have plagued users of FC, including Crossley, made through the use of facilitated communication against parents, teachers, and caregivers of people with disabilities. However, a number of controlled evaluations of FC were conducted by clinicians, researchers, and program administrators who were considering the use of FC, but wanted an objective, empirical basis for deciding what role, if any, FC would have in their programs.
The O.D. Heck Center in Schenectady, New York was one of the first in the United States to go public with their findings: that their clients produced meaningful responses through facilitated communication only when their facilitators had access to the correct responses. The report went on to virtually rule out issues of confidence or skepticism on the part of the evaluators. All twelve participants (people with disabilities) were chosen for the evaluation because their facilitators believed in their ability to communicate through FC. The study demonstrated that the communication partners were "systematically and unknowingly" being influenced by their facilitators. The report went on:
"In fact, the nature of the findings permits us to assert that their output in facilitated communication was not only influenced, but was controlled and determined by the facilitators. To all appearances, these participants had been producing thoughtful communication, and several had consistently engaged in interactive conversations using facilitated communication. Many people serving these individuals believed that this output reflected the valid expressions of the participants."
The result of the O.D. Heck study seemed so startling, especially in light of the positive response FC was getting in the popular press, that Frontline featured the story in its 1993 "Prisoners of Silence." In 1993, Genae A. Hall, research director for the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, wrote: "The fact that facilitators often control and direct the typing has been called 'facilitator influence,' which seems to be a misnomer. 'Facilitator influence' suggests that the disabled person is emitting verbal behavior, and the facilitator is exerting partial control (or 'influence') over that behavior. Although partial control certainly may occur when fading prompts within structured teaching programs, such control has not been demonstrated in most cases of FC. Rather than influencing the typed messages, the facilitator appears to be the sole author of those messages. Thus, the focus of analysis is shifted from the disabled person's behavior to the facilitator's behavior."
The O.D. Heck study was not the only double blind research study to receive such results. In fact, multiple studies had been conducted to determine authorship before or around the same time as the O.D. Heck study. Whenever conditions were adequately controlled to prevent the facilitator from knowing the answers to questions presented to the disabled communication partner, the results revealed facilitator influence, if not direct authorship.
In 1994, Thistledown Regional Centre in Ontario, Canada conducted an internal study of 20 people with autism and stopped using FC when the results showed facilitator influence was "contaminating the messages being produced." By 1995, these results had been replicated by researchers worldwide in at least 24 studies in credible, peer-reviewed research journals using "a variety of methods to see what happens when the facilitator doesn't know or can't guess the message that is expected or doesn't look at the letter display."
In 1997, reflecting on the trajectory FC has taken in several countries, including Denmark, the U.S. and Australia, von Tetzchner wrote:
"In the struggle to keep up to date with an increasing number of published papers, both researchers and practitioners tend to forget history. In order to avoid making the same mistakes over again, the issues and processes underlying the rise and fall of facilitating techniques--as well as other intervention methods--in various countries should have a natural place in research reviews. When an intervention claimed to have exceptional effects disappears, the likely reason is lack of positive results."— Stephen von Tetzchner, Historical issues in intervention research: hidden knowledge and facilitating techniques in Denmark, 
By 2005, more than 50 controlled studies and blind tests had been conducted, in addition to numerous controlled tests conducted in legal cases. The studies consistently showed "without a doubt" that the messages obtained through facilitated communication were controlled by the facilitators and not their communication partners.
|This section does not cite any sources. (November 2015)|
The concept and technique of facilitated communication is one that has been increasingly debated over the last few decades with the vast majority of evidence indicating that it is not scientifically valid. However, this information has not stopped many individuals from using this technique under various circumstances and furthermore, advocating for its effectiveness.
The overwhelming majority of evidence from studies conducted on the efficacy of this technique has revealed that the likely explanation for any “positive” results—that is, anything indicating that facilitated communication has worked—can be attributed to the facilitators themselves. Be it the facilitator attributing their own beliefs and views onto the individual, or the creating a pseudo-personality for the disabled individual based on their previous encounters with them, it is clear that the facilitator is really the one doing all the communicating. Further examination into this technique has discovered various examples in which the disabled individual using facilitated communication could correctly respond to simple questions only when the facilitator was in the room to hear the questions. This included asking the facilitator to leave and then proceeding to show the disabled individual a picture of an animal. Next, the facilitator would return to the room and be asked to help the individual answer the question: “what animal did I just show you?” In all of these cases, the questions were answered incorrectly. However, when asked questions while the facilitator was in the room, the correct response would be made. Shockingly, this technique has also lead to a series of false sexual abuse cases in which the facilitator would indicate that the disabled individual revealed that they had been sexually abused. Unsurprisingly, these cases were later dismissed upon the discovery that these false accusations were actually a result of the facilitator fabricating these stories.
Finally, even further defining facilitated communication as a pseudoscience, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a statement indicating that facilitated communication studies have repeatedly demonstrated that it is not a scientifically valid technique and that it is a controversial and unproved communicative procedure with no scientifically demonstrated support for its efficacy.
Sexual abuse allegations and facilitator misconduct
One of the more disturbing aspects of Facilitated Communication is when a person, through FC, seems to disclose experiences of sexual or physical abuse. Often, the alleged abuse is sexual and contains "extensive, explicit, pornographic details." While facilitators are taught to expect their communication partners to reveal sensitive, personal issues, it is not known whether FC generates more abuse allegations than other suggestive techniques.
Researchers suspect that facilitators involved in this type of case may, mistakenly, believe there is a link between early abuse and autism or, for other reasons, suspect familial abuse. As Green wrote in a 1995 article, "suggestions about sexual abuse permeate the culture. Just watch Oprah or Phil [Donahue] almost any time or scan the pop psychology section at your local bookstore. Couple that with mandatory abuse reporting laws, mix in a little bit of crusading zeal to 'save' people with disabilities from mistreatment, and you have a potent set of antecedents for facilitators to produce allegations."
In 1993, Frontline's Prisoner's of Silence featured the story of Gerry Gherardi of North Carolina who was accused, through FC-generated messages, of sexually abusing his son. Despite protestations of innocence, Gherardi was forced to stay away from his home for six months. The charges were dropped when court-ordered double-blind tests showed that Gherardi's son could not write. In the same year, Rimland reported in a New York Times article that he knew of about 25 cases where families were accused through facilitated communication of sexually abusing their children.
By 1995, there were five dozen known cases, with untold numbers of others settled without reaching public visibility. Since then, the number of cases continues to increase. In addition to accusations of sexual abuse, facilitators, reportedly, have fallen in love with their communication partners and, relying on FC for consent, initiated sexual, physical contact with people in their care, raising serious ethical and legal problems for facilitators, protective service agencies, law enforcement, court officials, educators, and family members alike.
The "Carla" case
About the same time FC was gaining popularity in the United States in the early 1990s, the Guardianship and Administration Board in Melbourne, Australia was reviewing a landmark case involving allegations of sexual abuse and facilitated communication. The 1990 case involved a 28- year-old woman (pseudonym "Carla") with severe disabilities who was removed, twice, from her home by state authorities because of messages obtained through FC that she was being sexually abused at home.
Nine facilitators, including Crossley, one of Australia's leaders in FC movement, over a course of nine months, obtained messages through FC that, allegedly involved incest, rape and other sexual depredations. Crossley had assessed Carla in August 1998, indicating that her ability to spell was very good and expressing amazement at the extent of Carla's vocabulary and perceptions during the evaluation. Officials removed Carla from the home when one of the facilitators, through another facilitated session, indicated Carla threatened suicide if she was not removed from her home.
A 15-month custody battle ensued, during which Carla was subjected to over 100 hours of psychological and other testing. In the end, the Guardianship Board concluded that Carla was severely intellectually disabled, unable to differentiate between letters of the alphabet, and could not have authored the messages. The double-blind testing, conducted by psychologist Tony Cantanese, demonstrated that the only meaningful responses obtained through FC were when the facilitator knew the questions being asked of Carla. The court determined that Carla and her family were "victims" and admonished the facilitators: "the one step that would have prevented the case occurring--prior verification that the woman could communicate with facilitated communication--had not been done." All charges were dropped and custody was granted to Carla's family.
The Storch case
In 1991, Mark Storch from Shokan, New York was charged with abusing his daughter after the Department of Social Services received reports that his daughter, Jenny, a 14-year-old with autism, had, through facilitated communication, disclosed recurring sexual assaults, including 200 vaginal and anal rapes. Storch's wife, Laura, was charged with neglect. Despite no physical evidence of abuse, inconsistencies in the facilitated testimony, and questions about the facilitator's troubling personal history, officials pressed charges, which led to a costly, 10-month legal battle. The case was dropped because FC lacked sufficient testing and acceptance in the scientific community.
Bennett Leventhal, head of pediatric psychology at the University of Chicago, testified in the Storch's defense, saying: "The obligation of an investigator into a new technique is to show how it works. With FC, there's this basic assumption of 'What can it hurt?' The Storch trial is living proof of how dangerous it is to embrace new science before it has been tested."
The Wheaton case
In 1992, the parents of Betsy Wheaton, 16-year-old nonspeaking person with autism, were, through facilitated communication, falsely accused of sexually abusing their daughter. The facilitator, Janyce Boynton, who was trained in FC at the University of Maine, interpreted Betsy's hitting and scratching during facilitated sessions as reenactments of abuses occurring at home. Boynton reported these incidences to the Department of Human Services and Betsy and her brother were removed from the home. The brother was also implicated. The parents' attorney hired Howard Shane of Boston Children's Hospital to conduct testing of authorship. It was determined through double blind testing that Boynton, not Betsy, was authoring the messages obtained through facilitation. Boynton, unlike many other facilitators who have undergone testing, accepted the results, stopped using FC, and persuaded the school system to stop using FC as well.
Of the Wheaton case, Todd wrote: "The real responsibility for the Wheaton tragedy lies with Rosemary Crossley, Douglas Biklen, and their acolytes. Despite all of their advanced degrees, professional credentials, and university appointments, they failed in their professional and ethical responsibility to show that FC was safe and effective before foisting it on the world. Having donned the trappings of expertise and put themselves out as authorities, they incurred what John Erskine called 'the moral obligation to be intelligent.' Long before they even thought to put pen to paper and write their extravagant tales of extra-ordinary awakenings, they should have heeded not just the technical lessons of Clever Hans, but the findings of more than a century of scientific and practical investigations of automatic writing, experimenter bias, mental telepathy, unconscious influence, subjective validation, stimulus leakage, expectancy effects, deception and self-delusion. Had they exercised due scientific diligence, the developers of FC would have quickly realized that they had done nothing better than turn pliant arms into Ouija planchettes and reinvent the seance."
The Cracchiolo case
In 1993, Gregory Cracchiolo, a teacher of students with severe developmental disabilities in Whittier, California, was accused of sexually assaulting four of his students, with facilitated communication being the only source of evidence. The student making the allegation was unable to communicate by speech to verify these claims. Cracchiolo lost his job and faced 11 felony counts of forcible sodomy and forced oral copulation. He faced a maximum sentence of 88 years in prison. While authorship testing was not done, the charges were dropped after a month, because FC lacked the scientific evidence to determine its efficacy. The prosecutor continued to believe the abuses occurred. Cracchiolo's career as an educator was ruined.
The Lehman case
In 1993, David and Jean Lehman of Newmarket, Ontario were charged with sexually abusing their 20-year-old son, Derek, based solely on evidence obtained through facilitated communication. At birth, Derek had been diagnosed with autism and severe mental retardation and, at the time of the allegations, lived in a group home. He was not able to speak but could use two hand signals: "please" and "toilet." He was not able to recognize numbers beyond three and wasn't aware of his own sex or that of others.
During authorship testing, conducted by Mary Konstantareas, psychology professor at the University of Guelph, Derek was not able to name an object that he had seen but his facilitators had not. After a year-long court battle, the charges were proven unfounded and dropped. The ordeal left the Lehmans in debt, nearly losing their business, and drove David Lehman to nearly committing suicide. The Lehmans filed an $8.5 million civil suit and accepted a settlement for an undisclosed amount. They were also granted custodianship of their son.
The New York case
In 1997, a New York couple, who had lost custody of their daughter, was awarded $750,000 by a federal jury when jurors concluded that the officials in the case "knew or should have known the girl's facilitated allegations of abuse were bogus."
The England case
In 1999, a 50-year-old business man from the south of England was accused, through FC, of abusing his 17-year-old son. The son, reportedly, had severe autism and epileptic fits and was not able to speak. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the High Court Family Division, ruled on the first case of its kind in England, saying FC was "dangerous" and should not be used by UK courts to "back up or dismiss allegations of abuse." She also indicated the court was "entirely satisfied the allegations were unfounded," since there was no evidence that the father or anyone else was a perpetrator, or that the abuse had ever occurred.
The Wendrow case
In 2007, Julian Wendrow of West Bloomfield, Michigan was charged with sexually abusing his daughter, Aislinn, and placed in jail for 80 days. His wife, Tali, was accused of severely mentally and emotionally abusing her children and was forced to wear an electronic tether. Their 13-year-old son was also named as a perpetrator. Both children were placed in foster care.
The allegations resulted from messages obtained via FC at school while an aide helped guide the girl's hand. The case was a "virtual rerun" of the 1992 Betsy Wheaton case. When lawyers questioned the girl without the facilitator present, she was unable to answer questions, including "What color is your sweater?" and "Are you a boy or a girl?" The case fell apart due to lack of physical evidence of abuse and facilitated testimony that contained information inconsistent with the Wendrow's family, lifestyle and living arrangements: relatives that did not exist, Christian theology attributed to observant Jewish parents, nonexistent rooms and photos.
Aislinn testified, through FC, that she was afraid of her father because of a gun. Police found no guns in the home. As a result, the charges were dropped and the children returned to their parents. Prosecutors continued to believe the girl was afraid of her father. A wrongful arrest suit was settled for $1.8 million, which, according to the attorney representing the Police Department, was a business decision made by the insurance company and was not an admission of wrongdoing or liability.
The Gigi Jordan case
On February 3, 2010, Gigi Jordan of New York was found by police in the Peninsula New York Hotel. She was incoherent from a drug overdose. Jude Mirra, her 8-year-old son, was also found, dead from a mixture of painkillers and anti-inflammatories which Jordan force-fed him. Jordan, at the time, was under the impression Mirra wanted to die because of alleged sexual abuse typed out during sessions involving FC. Despite testifying that she was "by Jude's side at all hours of the day," Jordan believed the biological father, her ex-husband, had been abusing the boy for years and that Mirra's diagnosis of autism was actually a catatonic psychosis brought on by the alleged abuse. To Jordan, the killing was "altruistic filicide"; a mercy killing.
Jude, who was diagnosed with autism, was not able to speak. Jordan indicated that Mirra, through FC, had told her "I need a lot of drugs to die peacefully" and "I wish you do it soon." Although Jordan and Mirra communicated by typing together on a Blackberry, no witnesses ever observed Mirra type by himself. In reviewing typed messages provided by Jordan of her son's disclosures, court officials questioned whether Mirra had the capacity to understand or spell words like "aggressively" and "sadistic".
Jordan also believed her second ex-husband, a pharmaceutical executive, was stealing millions of dollars from her and wanted her killed. Both men denied the accusations. No evidence of any crimes committed in connection with the case were found against either of the two men. In November, 2014, the jury accepted Jordan's claim of extreme emotional disturbance and found her guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of her son.
The Wales case
In 2012, the parents of a young woman with severe intellectual disabilities, autism and profound communication problems were reunited with their daughter after the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales concluded they had been wrongfully arrested on suspicion of serious sexual assault obtained via FC. The family had been separated for six months. No charges were brought against the parents. Dr. Rowan Wilson, a psychiatrist, had, on November 8, 2010, assessed the woman's mental capacity using FC, though he, admittedly, had no knowledge or experience of the system. He also failed to consider the discrepancy between the woman's language fluency with and without FC. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Services ruled that Wilson was still fit to practice because "he had shown remorse and insight into the errors he was highly unlikely to repeat." Wilson participated in further training in autism.
Anna Stubblefield case
In 2015, Anna Stubblefield, a Rutgers University–Newark philosophy professor, was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault against a man with severe mental disabilities. Stubblefield stated that the two of them had a mutually consenting relationship established through facilitated communication. At the time the investigation began in 2011, Stubblefield was the chair of Rutgers-Newark's philosophy department whose professional work centered on ethics, race, and disability rights. She was married and had a family.
Stubblefield was indicted in January 2013. The victim was identified as D.J., a 33-year-old African-American man with severe mental disabilities, whom Stubblefield met in 2008 through D.J.'s brother, a student of hers and one of D.J.'s legal guardians. D.J. cannot speak and has severe physical disabilities. He has cerebral palsy and is unable to stand independently or accurately direct movements of his body. Based on evidence of mental disability his mother and brother were appointed his legal guardians. Stubblefield, a proponent of facilitated communication, used the technique with D.J., whom she believed was of normal intelligence and, after in her opinion successfully communicating with him, brought him to conferences where she "held him out as a success story". Speaking with the assistance of Stubblefield using facilitated communication, D.J. is quoted, by Stubblefield, in the chapter "Living a Good Life...in Adult-Sized Diapers" in Disability and the Good Human Life:
|“||The right to communication is the right to hope....I am jumping for joy knowing I can talk, but don't minimize how humiliating it can be to know people jump to the conclusion I am mentally disabled. If people understand the punishment of perceiving other people as inhuman, then things will get better.||”|
Stubblefield's Web site says that she was "certified as a Facilitated Communication Trainer by the FC Institute at the School of Education, Syracuse University. She provides motor planning support for communication and literacy for adults and children."
On Memorial Day in 2011, Stubblefield revealed to D.J’s mother and brother, that she had had sexual relations with D.J. and that they were in love. She attributed consent to messages received while facilitating. Testing of D.J. by family members failed to establish the ability to communicate, Stubblefield was thanked, but denied further access to D.J. However, she continued to attempt to maintain contact with D.J. and began challenging control of D.J.'s legal guardians over him. In August 2011, the family went to the Rutgers police, who contacted Essex County prosecutors. Despite 20 years of psychological testing, which concluded that D.J. is severely mentally disabled, Stubblefield considered D.J. mentally capable, having the capacity to understand questions, communicate using facilitated communication, and give consent to sex. Prosecutors argued that FC has been scientifically discredited and that D.J. did not have the ability to give consent for or to refuse sexual relations. Stubblefield pleaded not guilty to the charges, but was put on administrative leave without pay and removed as chair of the philosophy department. D.J. was not allowed to testify using facilitated communication as it was ruled unreliable under New Jersey law. Experts evaluating D.J. testified he did not have the intellectual ability to consent to sexual activity. After a three-week trial the jury found Stubblefield guilty of two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault. After conviction the judge revoked bail saying that she was a flight risk. Sentencing, with possible penalties of between ten and twenty years in prison on each count, is scheduled for January 15, 2016. Stubblefield has filed a motion to have the jury's verdict set aside on the grounds that there was "insufficient evidence" to prove that she knew or should have known that D.J. was not capable of giving consent. On January 15, 2016, she was sentenced to 12 years in prison. She will be required to register as a sex offender. In a press release, the Assistant Prosecutor Eric Plant said, "Knowing how desperately families of disabled individuals are for some hope, she mislead the victim's family into believing that she was making progress in helping their son to communicate while all the while she was simply satisfying her own tawdry desires..."
The Martina Susanne Schweiger case
In 2014, Martina Susanne Schweiger of Queensland, Australia received an 18-month suspended jail sentence for two counts of indecent dealing with a 21-year-old client with severe autism with whom she worked at a disability services home. The client required 24-hour support and was not able to speak, write or use manual sign language.
Through FC, Schweiger believed the client expressed love for her, a feeling she reciprocated. She also believed the client, again through FC, indicated a desire to have sex. On one occasion, Schweiger removed her clothes in front of her client. On another, she "play wrestled" with him, touching his penis with her hands and mouth. She confessed her actions to her employer. After hearing reports from Dr. Alan Hudson, psychology professor at RMIT University, that FC "did not work for the young man," Judge Gary Long of Maroochydore District Court found Schweiger guilty of the charges, indicating that FC was neither reliable nor accurate as a method of communication.
- Auerbach, David. "Facilitated Communication Is a Cult That Won’t Die". Slate. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
- Lilienfeld; et al. "Why debunked autism treatment fads persist". Science Daily. Emory University. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Goldacre, Dr. Ben. "Making contact with a helping hand". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Palfreman, Jon (October 19, 1993). "Frontline: Prisoners of Silence". PBS.org. WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Daniel Engber (October 20, 2015). "The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
...the judge ruled that facilitated communication failed New Jersey’s test for scientific evidence.
- "Criticized method prohibited by school". SvD Nyheter. 23 December 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- "ISAAC Position Statement on Facilitated Communication: International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication". Augmentative and Alternative Communication 30 (4): 357–358. 2014. doi:10.3109/07434618.2014.971492.
- Lilienfeld, Scott O.; Marshall, Julia; Todd, James T.; Shane, Howard C. (2 February 2015). "The persistence of fad interventions in the face of negative scientific evidence: Facilitated Communication for autism as a case example". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention 8: 62–101. doi:10.1080/17489539.2014.976332.
- Wombles, Kimberly (18 February 2015). "Some fads never die - they only hide behind other names: Facilitated Communication is not and never will be Augmentative Communication". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention (Taylor & Francis Group) 8: 181–186. doi:10.1080/17489539.2015.1012780. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Burling, Stacey (May 17, 2004). "A pacesetting technique style for the autistic. She used the technique on her son. Some doubt the value of her methods.". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA). p. C.1. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Biklen, Douglas (1990). "Communication Unbound: Autism and Praxis". Harvard Educational Review 60: 291–314. doi:10.17763/haer.60.3.013h5022862vu732.
- Schwiegert, Mary Beth (28 December 2000). "Will to succeed Lititz man battles autism - and goes to college". Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). p. D-1.
- Biklen, Douglas; Morton, Mary Winston; Gold, Deborah; Berrigan, Carol; Swaminathan, Sudha (1992). "Facilitated Communication: implications for individuals with autism". Topics in Language Disorders (Aspen Publishers, Inc.) 12 (4): 1–28. doi:10.1097/00011363-199208000-00003.
- Dillon, Kathleen M. (1993). "Facilitated Communication, Autism and Ouija". Skeptical Inquirer 17 (3): 281–287.
- Dineen, Janice (December 21, 1991). "How autistic Chloe stunned the medical world". Toronto Star (SA2 Edition) (Toronto, Ontario). p. A1.
- Boodman, Sandra G. (January 17, 1995). "Can autistic children be reached through 'Facilitated Communication'? Scientists say no". The Washington Post (Final Edition) (Washington, D.C.). p. z01.
- Green, Gina (1994). "Mental Miracle or Sleight of Hand?". Skeptic 2 (3): 68–76.
- Jacobson, John W.; Mulick, James A.; Schwartz, Allen A. (September 1995). "A History of Facilitated Communication: Science, Pseudoscience, and Antiscience: Science Working Group on Facilitated Communication". American Psychologist (American Psychological Association,Inc.) 50 (9): 750–765. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.50.9.750.
- Mangiacasale, Angela (January 23, 1992). "New voice: system lets disabled communicate". The Ottawa Citizen (Final Edition). p. D3.
- Mostert, Mark P. (18 June 2012). "Facilitated Communication: The empirical imperative to prevent further professional malpractice". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention 6 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1080/17489539.2012.693840.
- von Tetzchner, Stephen (1997). "Historical issues in intervention research: hidden knowledge and facilitating techniques in Denmark". European Journal of Disorders of Communication (London, England: Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists) 32: 1–18. doi:10.3109/13682829709021453. PMID 9135710.
- Greenbaum, Kurt (September 27, 1992). "Autistic Method Disputed Researcher Says Child Not Helped". Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida). p. 8B.
- Kim, Rose (17 June 1992). "The magic touch keyboard technique helps severely disabled students learn to communicate". Los Angeles Times (Home Edition) (Los Angeles, California). p. 3. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Green, Gina (Fall 1995). "An ecobehavioral interpretation of the facilitated communication phenomenon". Psychology in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (American Psychological Association) 21 (2): 1–8.
- Libman, Gary (17 November 1992). "A controversial technique may be the key to providing sufferers with a way to communicate unlocking autism". Los Angeles Times (Home Edition). p. 1. Retrieved March 18, 2015. line feed character in
|work=at position 14 (help)
- Alferink, Larry A. (Fall–Winter 2007). "Educational Practices, Superstitious Behavior and Mythed Opportunities". Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 5 (2): 21–30.
- Palfreman, Jon (11 May 2012). "The dark legacy of FC". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention (Taylor & Francis Group) 6 (1): 14–17. doi:10.1080/17489539.2012.688343. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Well, Judith (March 9, 1994). "Facilitation: How much of a helping hand?". Jerusalem Post (Jerusalem). p. 07.
- Wright, Pearce (11 May 1999). "Obituary: How the laser changed our world: Arthur Schawlow". The Guardian (London, England). p. 18. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Gifford, Aaron (October 9, 2000). "SU professor still pushes to validate his method". The Post-Standard (Final Edition) (Syracuse, New York). p. B2.
- Celiberti, David (Spring 2010). "Facilitate This: Part 1 of a Two-Part Interview with Dr. James Todd". Science in Autism Treatment 7 (2).
- Ballon, Diana (April 25, 1992). "A ray of sunshine for the Rain Man. A new technique for communicating with autistic children is being greeted with skepticism by some experts - but the anecdotal evidence is compelling". The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario). p. D.8.
- Stengle, Bernice (5 September 1993). "Michael casts a spell". St. Petersburg Times (City Edition) (St. Petersburg, Florida).
- Mostert, Mark (2014). "An Activist Approach to Debunking FC". Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (Sage) 39 (3): 203–210. doi:10.1177/1540796914556779.
- Spitz, Herman (3 February 1997). Nonconscious Movements: From Mystical Messages to Facilitated Communication. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-805-82564-0. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- von Tetzchner, Stephen (June 25, 2012). "Understanding facilitated communication: Lessons from a former facilitator - Comments on Boynton, 2012". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention 6 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1080/17489539.2012.699729. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Brasier, L.L.; Wisely, John (December 18, 2007). "Abuse case hinges on a keyboard". McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Rising, Gerry (8 January 2001). "'Miraculous' autism treatment stirs concern". Buffalo News (Final Edition) (Buffalo, New York). p. 2B.
- Riggott, Julie (Spring–Summer 2005). "Pseudoscience in Autism Treatment: Are the News and Entertainment Media Helping or Hurting?". Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 4 (1): 58–60.
- Emery, Jr., C. Eugene (November 30, 1994). "FC Message Technique for the Handicapped Unproven, experts say *A national group of speech and language experts votes to warn its 80,000 members that tests show facilitated communication lacks scientific validity". Providence Journal (Providence, Rhode Island). p. D-09.
- Duchan, Judith F.; Calculator, Stephen; Sonnenmeier, Rae; Diehl, Sylvia; Cumley, Gary D. "A Framework for Managing Controversial Practices". Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 32: 133–141. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2001/011).
- Schlosser, R.; Balandin, S.; Hemsley, B.; Iacono, T.; Probst, P.; von Tetzchner, S. (2014). "Facilitated Communication and Authorship: A Systematic Review". Augmentative and Alternative Communication 30 (4): 359–368. doi:10.3109/07434618.2014.971490.
- Mann, Lisa Barrett (February 22, 2005). "Oscar Nominee: Documentary or Fiction?; Film Resurrects Discredited Autism Tactic". The Washington Post (Final Edition). p. Health; F01. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- "Facilitated communication not reliable as evidence". The Times (London, England). July 29, 2000.
- Jordan, Jones & Murray. "Educational Interventions for Children With Autism: A Literature Review of Recent And Current Research" (PDF). Institute of Education. DfEE. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
- Mostert, Mark P. (2010). "Facilitated Communication and Its Legitimacy - Twenty-first century developments". Exceptionality (Taylor & Francis Group, LLC) 18: 31–41. doi:10.1080/09362830903462524.
- Oswald, Donald P. (September 1996). "Book Review: Facilitated Communication: The Clinical and Social Phenomenon. Edited by Howard C. Shane. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group. 1994. pp. 323". Journal of Behavioral Education 6 (3): 355–357. JSTOR 41824137.
- Normand, Matthew P. (Winter 2008). "Science, Skepticism, and Applied Behavior Analysis". Behavior Analysis in Practice 1 (2): 42–49. PMC 2846586. PMID 22477687.
- Gardner, Martin (January–February 2001). "Facilitated Communication: A Cruel Farce". Skeptical Inquirer: 17–19.
- Porter, Kayla (14 August 2007). "Awakening the silence". McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, D.C.).
- "Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health News Release". Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 4 (1): 58–60. Spring–Summer 2005. line feed character in
|journal=at position 18 (help);
- Gunther, Maria (July 20, 2014). "Schools using the controversial method for autistic children". DN.se. line feed character in
|title=at position 8 (help);
- Brown, Molly T. (28 July 1992). "The typed voice helping the nonverbal communicate". Buffalo News (Buffalo, New York). p. C:1.
- "29-year-old learns to type and disability disappears". The Vancouver Sun (2* Edition) (Vancouver, B.C.). 24 December 1991. p. E22.
- Wolff, Jamey (3 November 1991). "The Words They Can't Say [Letter]". New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)) (New York, New York). p. A.10.
- Emery Jr., C. Eugene (May 8, 1994). "Helping hand or surrogate mind? For autistics, a ray of hope dimmed by doubts". Providence Journal (Providence, Rhode Island). p. A-01.
- Licht, Nora G. (3 November 1991). "The Words They Can't Say [Letter 2]". New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)) (New York, New York). p. A.10.
- Occaso, Carla (3 February 2007). "11-year-old shares her world of autism". Brattleboro Reformer (Brattleboro, Vermont).
- Biklen, Douglas; Schubert, Annegret (November–December 1991). "New Words: The Communication of Students with Autism". Remedial and Special Education 12 (6): 46–57. doi:10.1177/074193259101200607. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- McGrory, Mary (22 April 1991). "Getting through autism". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Final Edition) (Seattle, Washington). p. A.7.
- Dickerson, Brian (17 March 2008). "Brian Dickerson Column: A legal horror show tears Oakland Co. family apart". McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, D.C.).
- Reischman, Rick (31 December 2007). "Region Brief". Daily Record (Wooster, Ohio).
- McKechnie, Gary; Howell, Nancy (March 14, 1993). "The world according to David: A controversial new approach may be allowing David Graham Perry and thousands of others to communicate for the first time in their lives or it may be offering false hope". Orlando Sentinel (2* Edition) (Orlando, Florida). p. 10.
- Smetanka, Mary Jane (6 December 1994). "Who can benefit? Two case studies/Charlie Swenson". Star Tribune (Metro Edition) (Minneapolis, Minnesota). p. 15A.
- Ayala, Elaine (19 June 1992). "Freed from their SILENCE". Austin American Statesman (Austin, Texas). p. E1.
- MacDonald, Sally (25 December 1991). "By typing, son spells love a letter at a time typing unlocks a trapped mind: 'I can tell mom I love her'". Seattle Times (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. A1. line feed character in
|location=at position 16 (help);
- Todd, James T. (13 July 2012). "The moral obligation to be empirical: Comments on Boynton's "Facilitated Communication - what harm it can do: Confessions of a former facilitator."". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention (Taylor & Francis Group) 6 (1): 36–57. doi:10.1080/17489539.2012.704738. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Sundstrom, Kathy (October 17, 2014). "Carer: "I fell in love": Grandma guilty of indecent dealing". Sunshine Coast Daily (Queensland, Australia). Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Papp, Leslie (21 January 1996). "Autism 'miracle' a nightmare for family". The Toronto Star (Sunday Second Edition) (Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Toronoto Star Newspapers, Ltd.).
- Spake, Amanda (31 May 1992). "Skeptics and Believers; The Facilitated Communication Debate". The Washington Post. p. W22. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Gammage, Jeff (25 October 2004). "An eye for fakes: Exposing the quacks in psychological treatment is a Drexel professor's mission". Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). p. C.1. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Heinrichs, Paul (March 10, 1991). "Experts slam disabled 'charade'". Sunday Age (Late Edition) (Melbourne, Australia). p. News, p. 1.
- Cuff, John Haslett (19 October 1993). "Television "Prisoners of Silence: A Shocking look at autism research". The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario). p. C.4.
- Biklen, Douglas (December 1992). "Facilitated Communication.". Word of Mouth: A newsletter dedicated to speech & language in school-age children 4 (3): 1–12.
- Ackerson, Sandy (1994). "Facilitated Communication: A Communication Breakthrough or Breakdown?". Beyond Behavior 5 (2): 13–16. line feed character in
|title=at position 12 (help);
- Travers, Jason; Tincani, Matt; Lang, Russell (September 2014). "Facilitated Communication Denies People With Disabilities Their Voice". Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (Sage) 39 (3): 195–202. doi:10.1177/1540796914556778.
- Cardinal, Donald; Falvey, Mary (September 2014). "Facilitated Communication Denies People With Disabilities Their Voice". Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (Sage) 39 (3): 189–194. doi:10.1177/1540796914555581.
- Singer, George; Horner, Robert; Dunlap, Glen; Wang, Mian (September 2014). "Standards of Proof: TASH, Facilitated Communication, and the Science-Based Practices Movement". Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (Sage) 39 (3): 178–188. doi:10.1177/1540796914558831.
- Calculator, Stephen (October 1999). "Look Who's Pointing Now: Cautions Related to the Clinicial Use of Facilitated Communication". Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 30: 408–414. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.3004.408. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Broderick, Alicia A.; Kasa-Handrickson, Christi (Spring 2001). ""Say just one word at first": The emergence of reliable speech in a student labeled with autism". JASH 26 (1): 13–24. doi:10.2511/rpsd.26.1.13. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Koppenhofer, Janet; Gilmer, Debbie; McElroy, Mary (July 1993). "Facilitated Communication: An annotated bibliography". Creating Inclusive Communities: Monograph Series (Orono, Maine: University of Maine, Orono Center for Inclusion) 1.
- Sachs, Sylvia (27 March 1994). "Family's struggle with autism brings 'Out of Silence' to life". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA). p. F-5.
- Lezard, Nicholas (4 April 1995). "Books: Paperback round-up". The Guardian (Manchester, United Kingdom). p. T.005.
- Rathbone, Andy; Rathbone, Tina (August 29, 1997). "For tragic child, only 'Miracles' will do". The Press-Enterprise (All Zones Edition). p. AA.22.
- Cardinal, Donald N.; Falvey, Mary A. (September 2014). "The maturing of facilitated communication: A means toward independent communication". Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 39 (3): 189–194. doi:10.1177/1540796914555581.
- Persaud, Babita (12 May 2002). "Lifelong Devotion". St. Petersburg Times (City & State Edition) (St. Petersburg, Florida). p. 1B.
- Riede, Paul (28 September 1997). "Autistics join debate over handson technique: Facilitated Communication, pioneered at SU, still has skeptics". Syracuse Herald American (Syracuse, New York). pp. A1, A14.
- Palma, Bethania (6 August 2006). "Helping learning disabled gain a voice". Whittier Daily News (Los Angeles, California).
- "Augmentative and Alternative Communication Clinical Guidelines". Speech Pathology Australia. The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited. September 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Paul Heinrichs (February 16, 1992). "Suffering at the hands of the protectors". The Sunday Morning Herald. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
- Healey, Michelle (6 April 2011). "New film gives voice to a nearly silent minority". Gannett News. p. ARC. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Hyman, Ray (Fall–Winter 1999). "The Mischief Making of Ideomotor Action". The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 3 (2). Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Wegner, Daniel M.; Fuller, Valerie A.; Sparrow, Betsy (July 2003). "Clever hands: Uncontrolled intelligence in facilitated communication". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 85 (1): 5–19. doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.168.
- Dillow, Gordon (24 January 1993). "Teacher says method that helps disabled ruined him. Courts: Autism sufferers, using a 'facilitator' to communicate, accused teacher of sexual assault. Charges dropped but he plans to sue for $2.5 million". Los Angeles Times (Home Edition) (Los Angeles, CA). p. 1.
- Hall, Genae A. (1993). "Facilitator control as automatic behavior: a verbal analysis". The Analysis of Verbal Behavior 11: 89–97. PMC 2748555. PMID 22477083.
- Mirenda, Pat (13 January 2015). "Comments and a personal reflection on the persistence of facilitated communication". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention (Francis & Taylor Group) 8: 102–110. doi:10.1080/17489539.2014.997427. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Calculator, S; Hatch, E (1995). "Validation of facilitated communication: A case study and beyond.". American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 4: 49–58. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0401.49. ISSN 1058-0360.
- Wichert, Bill. "Professor found guilty of sexually assaulting disabled man". NJ.com. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- Duchan, Judith (October 1999). "View of Facilitated Communication: What's the Point?". Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 30: 401–407. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.3004.401.
- Stubblefield, Anna (2011). "Sound and Fury: When Opposition to Facilitated Communication Functions as Hate Speech". Disability Studies Quarterly 31 (4). Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Mostert, Mark (June 2001). "Facilitated Communication Since 1995: A Review of Published Studies". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 31 (3): 287–313. doi:10.1023/a:1010795219886. PMID 11518483.
- Boynton, Janyce (April 17, 2012). "Facilitated Communication - What harm it can do: Confessions of a former facilitator". Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention (Taylor & Francis Group) 6 (1): 3–13. doi:10.1080/17489539.2012.674680. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Goldman, Daniel (July 13, 1993). "New Treatments for Autism Arouse Hope and Skepticism". New York Times (Late Edition). p. C.1. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Kezuka, Emiko (October 1997). "The Role of Touch in Facilitated Communication". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 27 (5): 571–593. doi:10.1023/a:1025882127478. PMID 9403373.
- Murray, Steve (May 21, 2005). "The world of autism as seen from the inside". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Home Edition). p. Living; 3C.
- McCabe, Bruce (16 October 1994). "Autism and feelings". Boston Globe (City Edition) (Boston, Massachusetts). p. 3.
- Shales, Tom (14 October 1994). "Third-place CBS hauls out yet another lame movie on Sunday". Buffalo News (City Edition) (Buffalo, New York). p. C10.
- Ruth, Jim (January 2001). "Will to survive Autistic man's struggle mirrors a new drama". Sunday News (Lancaster, Pennsylvania). p. H-1.
- Gorman, Brian J. (1998). "Facilitated communication in America: Eight years and counting". Skeptic 6 (3): 8.
- Burgess, Cheryl A.; Kirsch, Irving; Shane, Howard C.; Niederauer, Kristen L.; Graham, Steven M.; Bacon, Alyson (January 1998). "Facilitated Communication as an Ideomotor Response". American Psychological Society 9 (1): 71–74. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00013.
- Keim, Brandon (24 November 2009). "Reborn Coma Man's Words May Be Bogus". Wired. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Kogan, Rick (19 October 1993). "The FC Movement Treatment for autism looks dim on 'Frontline'". Chicago Tribune (North Sports Final Edition) (Chicago, Illinois). p. 5.
- Crossley, Rosemary; Remington-Gurney, Jane (August 1992). "Getting the words out: Facilitated communication training". Topics in Language Disorders 12 (4): 29–45. doi:10.1097/00011363-199208000-00004. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Shane, Howard C.; Kearns, Kevin (September 1994). "An Examination of the Role of the Facilitator in "Facilitated Communication"". American Journal of SpeechLanguage Pathology 3: 48–54. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0303.48. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Twachtman-Cullen, Diane (August 1997). A Passion to Believe. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-813-39098-7.
- Seebach, Linda (23 September 2008). "Charlatans to the rescue". Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition) (New York, New York). p. A.27. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Wheeler, Douglas L.; Jacobson, John W.; Paglieri, Raymond A.; Schwartz, Allen A. (February 1993). "An experimental Assessment of Facilitated Communication". American Association on Mental Retardation 31 (1): 49–60. PMID 8441353.
- Heinrich, Paul (February 16, 1992). "State 'tortured' family - Landmark case finds experts' naivety 'tragic'". Sunday Age (Late Edition) (Melbourne, Australia). p. 1.
- Shane, Howard C., ed. (June 1994). Facilitated Communication: The Clinical and Social Phenomenon. Singular Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-565-93341-5.
- Lilienfeld, Scott O. (March 2007). "Psychological Treatments that Cause Harm". Perspectives on Psychological Science 2 (1): 53–70. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6916.2007.00029.x. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Koehler, Robert (19 October 1993). "TV Review 'Prisoners' Puts Autism Technique to the Test". Los Angeles Times (Home Edition) (Los Angeles, California). p. 9.
- Margolin, K.N. (1994). "How Shall Facilitated Communication be Judged? Facilitated Communication and the Legal System". In Shane, Howard C. Facilitated Communication: The Clinical and Social Phenomenon. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing. pp. 227–257. ISBN 978-1-565-93341-5.
- Heinrichs, Paul (February 16, 1992). "Suffering at the hands of the protectors". Sunday Age (Late Edition) (Melbourne, Australia). p. 9. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Chideya, Farai (February 28, 1993). "The language of suspicion with an adult's hand gently supporting hers, an autistic child who'd never spoken could type messages on a keyboard. It seemed like a miracle--until the messages changed". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California). p. 34. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- "Allegations by FC of Sexual Abuse Have Been Challenged". The Washington Post (Final Edition) (Washington, D.C.). 17 January 1995. p. z12.
- Dickerson, Brian (March 17, 2008). "Brian Dickerson Column: A legal horror show tears Oakland Co. family apart". McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, D.C.).
- "Facilitated communication not reliable as evidence". The Times (London, England). July 26, 2000.
- Rumbelow, Helen (13 July 2000). "Autistic son's language aid led to abuse charge". The Times (London, England).
- "Law Report: Case Summaries - 9 October 2000". The Independent (London, England). October 9, 2000.
- Allen, Richard (12 July 2000). "Discredited test let to child abuse nightmare for father". The Evening Standard (London, England: Associated Newspapers Ltd.).
- Wisely, John; Brasier, L.L. (March 11, 2008). "Dad of autistic Westbloomfield girl nearly free of rape charges: She won't testify, so case collapses". McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, D.C.).
- Wisely, John; Brasier, L.L. (April 27, 2008). "Oakland fumbles sex case charges: overeager prosecutions can ruin lives, some say". McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington D.C.).
- Wisely, John; Brasier, L.L. (13 January 2011). "Dad's arrest in sex case results in $1.8 million settlement". Gannet News Service. p. ARC.
- Sanchez, Ray; Remizowski, Leigh (November 5, 2014). "New York businesswoman guilty of manslaughter in son's death". CNN (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.). Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Bashan, Yoni (September 10, 2014). "Trial Begins for Gigi Jordan, accused of murdering her son with pills; the former Manhattan executive's lawyer said she killed her son out of "fierce love and devotion"". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Bashan, Yoni (October 9, 2014). "Gigi Jordan describes last moments with her son; testifies about details in a Peninsula Hotel Room, says she tried to revive Jude". Wall Street Journal (New York, NY: Dow Jones & Company Inc.). Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Shipton, Martin (November 9, 2012). "Parents wrongly accused of sexually abusing daughter; lawyers consider next step". The Western Mail (Edition 1; National Edition). p. 15.
- Devine, Darren (13 November 2012). "Daughter taken from parents after unproven abuse claims; Doctor used wrong method to question autistic woman". The Western Mail (Edition 1; National Edition). p. 15.
- Anna Stubblefield (July 30, 2015). "Living a Good Life...in Adult-Sized Diapers". Disability and the Good Human Life (trade paperback). Cambridge University Press. pp. 219–242. ISBN 978-1107545830. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
- Stubblefield, Anna (June 27, 2010). "Archived University Website of Anna Stubblefield". Anna Stubblefield. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- Wichert, Bill (January 8, 2015). "New Jersey: Judge OKs document detailing Rutgers professor's sexual relations with mentally disabled man". NJ Advance Media (New Jersey Online LLC). Retrieved 21 March 2015.
- Szteinbaum, Sabrina. "Former RutgersNewark philosophy department chairwoman to appear in court for alleged sexual abuse of mentally handicapped man". The Daily Targum (New Brunswick, New Jersey). Retrieved March 21, 2015. Dead link as of October 22, 2015
- Zambito, Thomas (April 25, 2014). "Judge questions 'consent' defense in case of Rutgers-Newark professor accused of sexual assault". NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (New Jersey Online LLC). Retrieved March 21, 2015. Dead link as of October 22, 2015
- "Professor who abused disabled man sentenced to prison". Associated Press via Star Tribune. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
- David Porter, Associated Press (15 January 2016). "Professor who abused disabled man gets 12 years in prison". Associated Press. Times Union. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
- "Professor sentenced to prison for sexual assault of disabled man". NJ.com. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
- Sundstrom, Kathy (17 October 2014). "Mother angered by suspended sentences". Sunshine Coast Daily (Queensland, Australia). p. 4. Retrieved March 19, 2015.