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Facilitated Communication and Autism Ranking: Mildly Hazardous Limited negative evidence

Future Research

Summary of Existing Research

There is a significant amount of research evidence to suggest that facilitated communication provides no benefits for individuals on the autism spectrum. All of the high quality evidence indicates that any communication is created by the facilitator, not the aid users.

There is also evidence that facilitated communication can, in a few cases, lead to significant harm. For example, there have been occasions when unsubstantiated claims of sexual abuse against family members have been made by the people facilitating the communication.

A number of advisory and professional bodies have recommended that facilitated communication is not used. For example:

  • The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) stated “Do not provide facilitated communication for adults with autism." (NICE, 2012)
  • The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) stated that “ISAAC does not support FC as a valid form of AAC, a valid means for people to access AAC, or a valid means to communicate important life decisions. The weight of evidence does not support FC and therefore it cannot be recommended for use in clinical practice”. (ISAAC, 2014)

Recommendations for Future Research

There is no reason to carry out further studies on facilitated communication. However, we agree with the review by Mostert (2001) which concluded

"Specifically, more attention in future research could be paid to subjects (n and disability label), their age, the physical act of facilitation itself, issues around the settings for experiments, the motivations and beliefs of the facilitators, the inefficacy of FC over time, and an even greater emphasis of quantitative over qualitative methods for verification".

 

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