Issues Raised by Facilitated Communication for Theorizing and Research on Autism There is considerable disagreement in the literature and among clinicians about the success of facilitated communication, a new method of augmentative communication being used with people diagnosed autistic. Some claim almost everyone exposed to it achieves success, basing their claims upon their observations and experiences of naturally occurring facilitated interactions. ... Featured Article
Featured Article  |   December 01, 1993
Issues Raised by Facilitated Communication for Theorizing and Research on Autism
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith Felson Duchan
    State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Contact author: Judith Duchan, 130 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, New York 14214.
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language / Featured Article
Featured Article   |   December 01, 1993
Issues Raised by Facilitated Communication for Theorizing and Research on Autism
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1993, Vol. 36, 1108-1119. doi:10.1044/jshr.3606.1108
History: Received January 20, 1993 , Accepted July 20, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1993, Vol. 36, 1108-1119. doi:10.1044/jshr.3606.1108
History: Received January 20, 1993; Accepted July 20, 1993

There is considerable disagreement in the literature and among clinicians about the success of facilitated communication, a new method of augmentative communication being used with people diagnosed autistic. Some claim almost everyone exposed to it achieves success, basing their claims upon their observations and experiences of naturally occurring facilitated interactions. Others claim minimal or no success, basing their claims on their observations of facilitated interactions under controlled experimental conditions. I argue here that both claims can be valid and that FC users with autism are sometimes competent and other times incompetent, depending upon the conditions under which they are evaluated. I support my argument by offering a collaborative view of communication in place of the commonly held view that communication involves passing messages over an invisible conduit. Given the assumption that facilitated communication does allow for the expression of unexpected competence for many with autism, I describe various unusual phenomena being revealed by facilitation and FC users and offer some theoretical approaches for explaining these phenomena. I then propose some research ideas for studying the phenomena associated with FC and offer them as suggestions for how we might proceed in our efforts to develop our understanding of when and how it works for people with autism.

Acknowledgments
I would like to thank the following people for their invaluable critiques and suggestions as I worked through various versions of this article: Doug Biklen, Holly Craig, Paul Farkas, Jeff Higgin-botham, Jim McLean, Missy Morton, Nancy Rubin, Annegret Schubert, Barry Prizant, Elaine Silliman, and Rae Sonnenmeier. And thanks to Martin Fujiki for suggesting that I do it in the first place.
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