Cancel the Facilitated Communication Training
Facilitated Communication, recently rebranded as Supported Typing, is an unethical and largely unsuccessful means physically supporting, often physically forcing, individuals with complex communication needs to communicate by pointing to letters on a piece of paper, board or keyboard. FC, as it is known, has been condemned by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, American Speech and Hearing Association, International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, The Association for Behavior Intervention International, The Federal Trade Commision, the entire Swedish public education system and many others.
It can be argued that FC has been fully debunked starting in the early 1990s and with over 50 more studies since which clearly and irrefutably shown many, and in some cases all, of the messages are actually written by the facilitator. It can also be argued that FC is dangerous with false allegations of abuse sending families using FC into a tailspin with the legal system and leading to other facilitators feeling it is appropriate to accept consent for sexual activities from communications that facilitator is "facilitating". It should also be noted with abuse rates of those with complex disabilities up into the high nineties any practice which insists that a person with a disability allow another person to manipulate/touch their body, especially without their consent, is problematic and may be part of grooming these individuals to be abused.
Many proponents of FC argue that some FC users become independent. This is true, in a few notable cases, but there is no evidence these individuals would not have learned literacy and to communicate through other methods. Nor is their evidence that even a small percentage can of FC users find similar success. Without such success FC creates a very small world for the the vast majority of people using FC to communicate. A world limited by their access to a facilitator where every word will be doubted because of the methodology being used. This is a shame since we have so many other wonderful, valid and independent ways for those who need alternative ways of communication to create and share authentic messages.
The more important point, as educators, therapists, and doctors and especially for an institution of higher learning or hospital is that FC does not align with best practices in communication, literacy, occupational therapy or education. No typical child would be taught to read by being physically made to touch letters on a board. No typical child would be expected to master language by being assisted to touch letters to spell without modeling of langauge or ongoing exposure to others using this method. No typical child would be expected to accept someone near them and touching them, nearly all the time. Why is it ok for children who cannot speak?
It isn't. FC is a highly problematic, debunked and unethical means of offering communication to someone who doesn't speak.
New England College and Massachusetts General Hospital should refrain from implicitly or explicitly supporting this method and cancel the Facilitated Workshop to be held on its New England College’s Concord Campus. GAMALIEL should demand ABLENH cancel the training and remove them from their organization. ABLENH should cancel the workshop and refrain from all promotion of unethical practices with little to no valid research support.
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