Rosemary Crossley

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Rosemary Crossley AM (born 1945) is an Australian author and advocate for disability rights and facilitated communication.

Authorship and advocacy[edit]

Rosemary Crossley is the co-author, with the late Anne McDonald, of Annie's Coming Out,[1] the story of Anne's breakthrough to communication and her release from a large Australian care home for children and adults with severe disabilities. Anne's story went on to be made into an award-winning film titled Annie's Coming Out (also called A Test Of Love) in 1984 starring Angela Punch McGregor and directed by Gil Brealey, the screenplay for which was written by Rosemary's partner, Chris Borthwick, with both Rosemary and Anne as contributing writers. The film won Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Annie's Coming Out tells the story of how Rosemary Crossley developed the form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) now known as facilitated communication or (as Crossley herself prefers) facilitated communication training. Facilitated communication training is today widely used by people with a variety of communication handicaps. Widespread controversy has continued to accompany its use in the autistic population.[2] While a number of peer reviewed scientific studies have concluded that the language output attributed to the clients is directed or systematically determined by the therapists who provide facilitated assistance,[3] a number of other such studies, including the largest (Cardinal, Hansen, and Wakeham, 1996),[4] have found some valid communication. Acceptance of the significance of the technique is increasing among AAC professionals.[5]

Rosemary Crossley went on to establish DEAL (Dignity, Education, Advocacy, Language) Communication Centre,[6] training a wide range of functionally non-verbal people in the use of communication techniques with family, friends and carers. She was the inspiration for facilitated communication in the US which was begun by Douglas Biklen of Syracuse University, Division of Special Education and Rehabilitation, who visited her in Australia. Academic research and development (in inclusion, community integration and communication) conducted at the university with doctoral students were reported early in the disability literature [7] with very impressive developments in the field of autism and speech.[8]

She later wrote Speechless: Facilitating Communication for People Without Voices[9] about the experiences of several people who first acquired communication through this technique. She was the Keynote Conference Speaker at the International Association of Severe Disabilities in 1990, having assisted over 600 people with communication many for the very first time in Australia.[10]

Rosemary Crossley has a PhD from Victoria University, Australia and is a Member of the Order of Australia (AM)[11]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Annie's Coming Out
  2. ^ Biklen, Douglas. (2005). "Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone". New York, New York: University Press.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Mirenda, Pat (2008). "A Back Door Approach to Autism and AAC". Augmentative and Alternative Communication 24 (3): 220–234. doi:10.1080/08990220802388263. 
  6. ^ DEAL (Dignity, Education, Advocacy, Language) Communication Centre
  7. ^ Biklen, D., Morton, M.W., Saha, S.N., Duncan, J., Gold, D., Hardardottir, M., Karna, E., O'Connor, S., & Rao, S. (1991). "I amn not a utistivc on thje typ" (I/m not Autistic on the Typewriter"). "Disability, Handicap and Society", 6(3): 161-180.
  8. ^ Biklen, D., Morton, M.W., Gold, D., Berrigan, C. & Swaminathan, S. (1992). Facilitated communication: Implications for individuals with autism. "Topics in Language Disorders", 12(4): 1-28.
  9. ^ Speechless: Facilitating Communication for People Without Voices
  10. ^ ...(1990, August). Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Rosemary Crossley. "TASH Newsletter", 3.
  11. ^ Australian Honours, 1986 citation "in recognition of service to those with severe communication disabilities"

External links[edit]