Lucy Blackman

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Lucy Blackman (born 1972 in Melbourne, Australia) is the first functionally non-verbal person with autism in Australia to become credited as a published author, with her book Lucy's Story (2001). Blackman is purported to have begun using typed communication in adolescence and to have progressed to being an independent typer via the discredited technique of facilitated communication. Facilitated communication is intended to allow individuals with disabilities who otherwise cannot communicate to, with a facilitator's assistance, type messages using a keyboard.[1][2] However, scientific studies demonstrate that facilitated communication is not actually effective and that the resulting messages are essentially written by the facilitators themselves, often unconsciously.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Blackman used facilitated communication in Melbourne's DEAL communication centre, run by Rosemary Crossley, beginning at the age of 14. She has received a BA (Hons) in Literary Studies at Deakin University in Geelong, and subsequently an MA. Advocates of facilitated communication believe Blackman's case provides strong evidence supporting the claim that this technique is a viable pathway to communication where verbal speech may otherwise never develop. She has been quoted as stating: "I find it difficult to understand why other people are more interested in the process of what I produce than the content."

Blackman was credited as the author of a chapter in the book Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone. In the introduction to her chapter, Douglas Biklen, who popularised facilitated communication in the United States,[4] writes:

In all my personal interactions with Lucy Blackman, I have found her opinionated, articulate, humorous, ever so candid, and always ready to challenge my ideas or anyone else's. In her chapter, these qualities persist. At several points, she suggests that my questions are from a nonautistic perspective and therefore not about topics that she would herself choose to discuss; she seems to find mine annoying, For that matter, she questions other normate takes on autism as well. For example, she points out that if experts insist on focusing on communication impairment and social interaction as diagnostic markers for autism, then the field may fail to notice other factors that lead to these "peculiarities" (Blackman's term).[9]


  • Lucy's Story: Autism and Other Adventures by Lucy Blackman. Foreword & Afterword by Tony Attwood (Jessica Kingsley, 2001) ISBN 978-1-84310-042-3, also published with the title Lucy's Story: Theoretical and Research Studies Into the Experience of Remediable and Enduring Cognitive Losses by the University of British Columbia Press ISBN 1-84310-042-8.
  • Review by Christi Kasa-Hendrickson in Facilitated Communication Digest, The newsletter of the Facilitated Communication Institute vol.9, no.1, 2001 Syracuse University
  • "Reflections on Language" by Lucy Blackman, pp. 146–167 in Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone ed. by Douglas Biklen. New York University Press, (2005) ISBN 0-8147-9928-0
  • "Strategies to Teach Improved Behaviours to a Non-Speaking Adolescent and Adult Who Had Not Received Formal Early Intervention" by Lucy Blackman and Mary A. Blackman. Presentation with video at The ARMS Global Autism Conference, Brisbane (2006) Abstract

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mann, Lisa (22 February 2005). "Oscar Nominee: Documentary or Fiction?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Autism is a World". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  3. ^ Lilienfeld; et al. "Why debunked autism treatment fads persist". Science Daily. Emory University. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b Editorial Board. "Syracuse University's reinforcement of facilitated communication inexcusable, concerning". The Daily Orange. Syracuse University. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Hall, Genae A. (1993). "Facilitator Control as Automatic Behavior: A Verbal Behavior Analysis" (PDF). The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. 11: 89–97. doi:10.1007/bf03392890. PMC 2748555. PMID 22477083.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Facilitated Communication: Sifting the Psychological Wheat from the Chaff. American Psychological Association. June 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Biklen, Douglas, et al. (2005). Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone. New York University Press, p. 145. ISBN 0-8147-9928-0