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Facilitated Communication and Autism Ranking: Mildly Hazardous Limited negative evidence

Aims and Claims

Aims

The aim of facilitated communication is to enable people with severe communication impairments to communicate more effectively. For example, according to the Ann McDonald Centre website, accessed on 15 March 2017,

“The immediate aim of facilitated communication training is to allow the aid user to make choices. People who can make choices can communicate in a way that was impossible before. Once they can make choices we encourage them to practice using a communication aid (a picture board, for example, or a speech synthesizer or keyboard) in a functional manner, to increase their physical skills and their self-confidence and to reduce their dependence on the facilitator. As the student's skills and confidence increase the amount of facilitation is reduced. The ultimate goal is for students to be able to use the communication aid(s) of their choice independently”.

Claims

There have been various claims made for facilitated communication. For example, according to the Ann McDonald Centre website, accessed on 15 March 2017,

“Facilitated communication training has enabled some people without functional communication to take charge of their lives, make their wishes known for the first time, and join the life of their communities. Parents have been enabled to communicate with their children. Children who have had only restricted education, or no education at all, have gone into regular classes; some have completed high school and gone on to university. For some people with challenging behaviours frustration has been relieved and behaviour has improved.

“Some people who started spelling slowly with facilitation are now typing independently. And some people who started to use communication aids with facilitation have found their speech has improved significantly”.

Updated
31 Oct 2017
Last Review
01 May 2017
Next Review
01 May 2020