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    Holding Educators Accountable For Evidence-Based Practices: Facilitated Communication Isn't One
    By Kim Wombles | June 23rd 2011 08:15 PM | 48 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Kim

    Instructor of English and psychology and mother to three on the autism spectrum.

    Writer of the site countering.us (where most of these

    ...

    View Kim's Profile
     By James Todd (in italics) and Kim Wombles

    In January of this year, Dr. James Todd and I cowrote a piece on facilitated communication and the Wendrow case, "Facilitated Communication: A Price Too High To Pay." The tragic case of the Wendrow family, whose daughter received facilitated communication in the school system at the family's behest and who through facilitation accused her father of raping her, should be a cautionary tale for other families who are desperate for their non-verbal autistic children to communicate. Her parents were placed in jail, the family completely disrupted, with the children removed from their home, the 13-year-old son later interrogated "for two hours without a parent, guardian or lawyer present."  Maybe "interrogated" is not the right word.  The police falsely told the child they had video of him participating in the rape of his own sister. If that were not enough, the mother, a research attorney for the same court that prosecuted her, and the father, a painting contractor, lost their careers. The Wendrows paid an incredibly high price for the false hope of facilitated communication.

    Brasier and Wisely, who have written a six-part series for the Detroit Free Presswrite, "The ordeal didn't end when it was clear that the girl wasn't communicating, after all. It didn't end when a sexual assault exam found no proof of abuse. And it didn't end when a prosecution witness insisted the abuse never happened." It continues today: both parents remain unemployed; Julian (the father) stating that "he still draws stares and whispers in crowds." Their now 18-year-old daughter, with the false hope of FC removed, has "the receptive language skills of a child 1 year and 11 months of age" just as I testified in court.  It is probably no consolation to the Wendrows that they are slightly better off than John Pinnington in England. Accused of abuse through FC in 2001 but never charged or convicted, Pinnington is not only unemployable, he remains on a sex offender registry due to a UK High Court ruling to accept as evidence unsubstantiated allegations made through a discredited technique.  In other words, like the Michigan court, the UK High Court ignored scientific evidence in order to accept facilitated communication as valid. Pinnington's attorney described his situation as Orwellian.  A designation equally applicable to the Wendrows' experiences--unless one is more fond of Kafka.  Then "Kafkaesque" might do as well.  

    Parents of special-needs children are faced with daunting challenges. Not only must they provide constant care and attention for their children, they must navigate medical systems designed to give as little support and information as possible and educational systems that still, despite IDEA, are often bureaucratic nightmares in order to get their children the services needed to give them the best chance at an independent life. On top of all that, they are hit from all sides by a coalition of well-meaning parent-enthusiasts, clever con artists, and credulous toadies offering claims of amazing success for the most unlikely, unsubstantiated, and even dangerous "treatments."  Desperation is a powerful sauce for the hungry. But simply not being prepared to effectively see through the blizzard of claims adds to the challenges.  What does "methylation" mean anyway? Why would a prestigious university like Syracuse tolerate, much less champion, an "Institute" devoted to a pseudoscientific intervention that simply does not work as its proponents claim? He sounds so genuine, this Wakefield fellow! Jenny's a mother, a “mommy warrior.” She would never let anyone harm a child!  It isn't any wonder that parents turn to these smiling and often impressively credentialed charlatans and their offers of hope. Exactly as the Wendrows did, with their severely affected daughter who simply did not seem to respond to anything else:  "Beginning in middle school, they pushed FC, threatening to sue the school district if it didn't hire a full-time aide to facilitate their daughter. They requested that she be placed in mainstream classes. On her own, the girl couldn't match the word 'cat' to a picture of a cat, draw a circle or count to five."
    "The Wendrows were introduced to FC in 2004 by Dr. Sandra McClennen, a retired education professor from Eastern Michigan University who had been working with their daughter for three years. She trained the girl to use FC, a highly controversial method through which autistic people are said to communicate using a keyboard, aided by another person."  
    Actually, McClennen did not train the Wendrow's daughter as so much as to sit and let FC be done. A report McClennen submitted to the school claimed that the girl wrote in sentences and did mathematics the very first time McClennen did FC with her. No training was necessary. The girl was a "natural." It was another miracle from a miracle worker whose reputation in Michigan was already well established, and whose proficiency in getting from FC exactly what the family is looking for seems almost as miraculous the the FC itself.  Under the heading "Tears of Joy,"The Northern Michigan Express newspaper tells us how McClennen elicited "I love mom" from another family's 23-year-old daughter the very first time facilitation was used, and how the woman's FC-based literacy convinced a court to appoint her as her own guardian.  With Sandra McClennen Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist (MI #6301001694), University Professor as their latter day Anne Sullivan, why should the Wendrows not believe that FC -- despite being widely debunked by educators and researchers -- would unlock hidden literacy in their mute daughter?  

    As if being guided to the false hope that their daughter wasn't as severely disabled as she was, the person who acted as facilitator should never have been the girl's aide: "Scarsella, who holds a high school diploma, completed one hour of facilitator training the summer before. She said in a deposition that she had 'no idea' whether what the girl was typing was true and had no interest in trying to verify it. And she said she didn't know anything about autism." One of the many, many ironies of the case was that I (James Todd), the FC critic and witness for the defense, had more formal training in FC than the girl's facilitators.  But central to the unfolding events was the testimony by McClennen that it was not FC that was bad, but the facilitator who was incompetent. What else could McClennen say, a licensed psychologist who had taken the stand on behalf of the prosecution against her own trusting clients? Admit to blatant and now life-shattering malpractice? But, McClennen's argument was the one that the court eventually adopted when it declared FC to be "interpretation."  By accepting McClennen's account, the court could throw out all the science--interpretation in itself is not a challengeable scientific technique--and keep the more than obviously railroaded family on the tracks to preliminary hearing and potentially a trial.    

    What's the relevance of repeatedly pointing out that McClennen is a credentialed academic?  A new article by Brian J. Gorman, Catherine J. Wynne, Christopher J. Morse, and James T. Todd, "Psychology and Law in the Classroom: How the use of Clinical Fads in the Classroom may Awaken the Educational Malpractice Claim," raises the issue of educational malpractice claims and uses the thoroughly discredited and debunked facilitated communication to highlight the need for educators to be held accountable for the use of "harmful, scientifically rejected practices in the classroom."  Facilitated communication was one of the things McClennen espoused in her teaching while on the faculty of the Eastern Michigan University Special Education Department, and continued to espouse after her retirement when she occasionally taught a class required for Michigan Special Educators seeking what was then called the "Autism Certification Endorsement."  Should we presume that her course is changed any now that it is being taught at Rutgers University? Does Rutgers care?
     
    Given that Gorman et al. raises the issue of schools and educators being held legally accountable for using non-evidence based practices, one wonders if, in the future, schools will be better able to withstand parental pressure and universities will find it in their interest to avoid offering courses in demonstrably dangerous pseudoscience.  In the Wendrow case, the school did not suggest FC; the Wendrows wanted it.  Eastern Michigan did not ask for FC to be taught.  It was injected into the curriculum. Why did the school bow to the Wendrow's demands that FC be used (and why does having a special needs child convey more power to the parents to demand disproven methods than parents of traditional students?)? Why did Eastern, and now apparently Rutgers, not suggest a more conventional autism course? Academic freedom, as typically conceived, does not extend to knowingly teaching falsehoods.  According to the Detroit Free Press, "Officials also testified in a lawsuit that they were aware FC didn't meet the Michigan Department of Education's standards that require all communication methods used in schools to be scientifically valid. The district declined to use FC with the other 20 nonverbal students in the district, specifically because it did not meet standards, records show. Veronica Burke, the district's classroom coordinator for special services, said in a deposition that she implemented FC for the Wendrows' daughter on the orders of a superintendent who has since left."  If the evidence of the past and present is a guide, the universities haven't even given it a fraction of the thought to FC that the school did in its progression from reluctant acquiescence to full embrace.

    Perhaps the acceptance of legal grounds for educational malpractice claims will help schools withstand the pressures of parents desperate to help their disabled children, and help universities prevent their good reputations being attached to bad interventions.  Gorman et al. close their article with these thoughts: "It is also evident that the recognition of the integrity of education tort theory will most likely have a chilling effect on education.  The chill, however, will likely be limited to behavior risking a conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of students." One can even hope that it will get these dubious (at best) treatments out of higher education, as well, where future special education teachers can be (and are) indoctrinated in their use (Syracuse University's Institute on Communication and Inclusion).

       References:

    Gorman, B.J., Wynne, C.J., Morse, C.J.,&Todd, J.T. (2011). Psychology and law in the classroom: How the use of clinical fads in the classroom may awaken the educational malpractice claim. Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, 2011(1), 29-50.



    **Having been informed in semi-private communication that this article was confusing, I offer the following potentially unnecessary clarification to readers who hung around all the way to the end:


    I would grant that the article is complex; intertwining the Wendrow case, the role of the credentialed professional who introduced them to FC which led to their predicament, and the new journal article making a case that educational malpractice cases may be potentially successfully argued under the Frye standard;  and could therefore consequently be misread.

    I would suggest that if the article had to be reduced to a simplistic summary that it would be this: Perhaps if schools can be held negligent for USING scientifically-invalidated methods such as FC with special needs (and other students), the bonus to this would be that universities will be less likely to cash in on discredited but lucrative methods and create departments that teach how to use scientifically-invalidated methods like Syracuse University has.



    It is my hope that if Dr. Todd and I were in any way too obscure, that this addendum clarifies and unifies the various threads of the piece.

    Comments

    Department of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University tenured full Professor James T. Todd writes:

    "Academic freedom, as typically conceived, does not extend to knowingly teaching falsehoods."

    From publicly accessible information on the internet, Professor Todd teaches about Facilitated Communication in his psychology courses. I hope he is careful to adhere to the above standard in his quoted statement.

    Arthur Golden

    kwombles
    Are you intentionally obtuse? Teaching that something is debunked, not-credible, and should not be used, backing it with decades of research is absolutely appropriate. Did you actually read the article or focus in on one thing that you thought you could twist to suit your own needs?
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Arthur, you are a grown man. I cannot believe that you would make such a statement as you did. Yes, Professor Todd does teach about FC in his courses. But ... here's the thing... he teaches about FC from a scientific point of view. As in: the scientific rationale for why it should not be used. My ex-wife and I teach about FC. But we do not teach FC. We teach the science of why it is very unreliable and why any inferences made on the basis of what comes out of it are invalid.

    You really ought to know better than to have made such a crass remark.

    I did carefully read your blog entry cowritten with Professor Todd but I only had time tonight (it is about 11:30 p.m. here in Israel and I am going to bed soon) to write up a comment to just one point, which fits into the topic of "research FRAUD" that I have been spending many hours looking into recently.

    The "research" of Dr. Andrew Wakefield has been shown to be a research FRAUD. The earliest "research" of Dr. Peter Eisen in 1979 showing that Facilitated Communication "is debunked, not-credible, and should not be used" (to use your wording) was proven in court to be a research FRAUD. References available on request (and I do not understand why this information has not been more publicized although it is publicly accessible on the internet).

    The research FRAUD of Dr. Wakefield took 7 years of investigative reporting. I am still in my first year of investigating that experimental data in support of Facilitated Communication may have been suppressed by research FRAUD. I realize that Professor Todd did not personally engage in the research of Facilitated Communication and he is trusting the research reports of persons such as psychiatrist Dr. Peter Eisen, so I will give Professor Todd the benefit of the doubt that he is not knowingly teaching falsehood. But what if my investigation does show there has been extensive research FRAUD in connection with Facilitated Communication? I hope it will not take me 7 years and I plan to give an interim report on my findings in another 6 months.

    Arthur Golden

    kwombles
    In your follow-up comment you have shifted your claim. Your initial comment appears to be nothing more than a thinly veiled threat towards Dr. Todd that misconstrues what the article is about.
    Bringing up Wakefield, whose "research" is not used as a therapy or treatment or instructional method in the classroom and is therefore irrelevant to the question of a legal framework for educational malpractice claims, is irrelevant and tangential. 

    Your reviewing of the subject matter, either your imaginary contention that research that debunks FC is somehow fraudulent or your looking into Wakefield (again, irrelevant and tangential), also have no bearing on the responsibility that educators have to not use debunked, potentially harmful practices on special needs students (and the general student population). Indeed, let us say that you wrote up an exhaustive account of your contentions: it still would have no relevance on the discussion at hand.  
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    I disagree with your comment which you posted in less than 20 minutes as a reply to my comment. I believe my comments to this blog entry are quite relevant to the discussion at hand. Being realistic, it will take me much more than 6 months to try to adequately investigate my concerns about research FRAUD by some of the opponents of Facilitated Communication. However, I plan to give an interim report on my findings in another 6 months.

    Good science requires patience. You and Professor Todd are great debaters but great debating on a blog entry does not neccessarily result in good science. You entered this debate on Facilitated Communication less than 16 months ago but the public debate began in Australia over 30 years ago and came to the US over 20 years ago. Personally, I became aware of research against vaccines in the 1980s, a few years before I ever heard the term Facilitated Communication. Research FRAUD muddies the debate and has to be exposed.

    kwombles
    Arthur,You might as well have written nothing more than "blah blah blah." Of course you disagree with me; of course you think it's relevant. That doesn't make it so, and your allegations of fraud backed up by nothing are hot air. When I entered this debate is irrelevant to whether the scientific research shows facilitated communication to be worthless or not. 

    Your comments are nothing more than strings of fallacies and emptiness. And vaccines have nothing to do with the Wendrow case nor the need for educators who use known worthless interventions to be held to some level of accountability, especially when it results in serious harm to the individual.

    No one in his right mind can look at the Wendrow case and not admit that serious harm came to this entire family because they were introduced to FC by someone with power who convinced them to try it.

    That you and your FC compatriots fail to, time after time, acknowledge that this tremendous harm was done to this family because of FC and FC only, that you use these articles to push your FC agenda, is at the very least disturbing. 

    Hopefully those readers who were inclined to wonder about FC will read  what happened to this family, and coupled with your words and utter lack of compassion and be more reluctant to try a thoroughly debunked method.
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Pardon the ignorance, but I thought this would be easy to test. Show a picture to the client, and not the facilitator and then ask the client to type what they saw. How do the pro-FC types explain this?

    kwombles
    Maybe Arthur will come by and explain it since he continues to support it ferociously.
    In the meantime, I'll offer some of their excuses (being that it is as easy to test as you wrote): the bond between the facilitator and client is a telepathic one, a paranormal one. Must be interference when it doesn't work. We all have our off days (think John Edwards the psychic not the philanderer, although...). Arthur obviously thinks it's somehow fraud on the researcher's part when it doesn't work.

    Honestly, though, rather than trying to explain why a test disproves communication, they instead seem to go on a rant about how bad one is for questioning it, how awful it is we are for denying these folks the chance to go to college, etc. 

    The comments from the earlier FC pieces I've written (both alone and with Dr. Todd) show intense hostility from the few family members using it. 

    FC isn't gone, though. Wretches and Jabberers, the new documentary, is nothing more than two adult men being facilitated. Biklen and FC proponents have adopted slick new language or co-opted the AAC terminology and gone underground, but it's still FC. Some of the more well known non-verbal autistic teenagers who communicate with an AAC device are actually being facilitated rather than communicating independently. And rapid prompting is nothing more than FC.

    Because FC has spiffed up its image, recast itself, and because people don't know what to look for and are more psychologically invested in believing in the extreme success stories than dealing with reality, many of the online autism community members support and essentially advertise FC (think everyone who writes glowing reviews of Wretches and Jabberers) or those who promote individuals who are clearly being facilitated as gifted and talented inspirations.

    Autism Now wants to support and promote facilitated communication, according to Susan Senator's recent blog post. ASAN appears to support it, as well.

    We've got a problem here, and at the root of it is political correctness. It's impolite to question the achievements of the autistic, even when it ought to be abundantly clear when someone's holding their hand or arm or the AAC device they're using. To express concern is tantamount to questioning the ability of any severely autistic person to overcome. Many of the new people being suckered today don't know of FC and that it was debunked in the 90s and then when they are informed don't believe today's FC is yesterdays.

    You'll get the excuses that the autistics have poor motor control and that's why they need help, and you'll even have people who know better argue with you that an individual can paint completely independently but is somehow not capable of pecking the keyboard without assistance. It's BS, and it ought to be readily apparent. It's a damn shame it's not because the time spent facilitating them is time that could have been spent teaching them to communicate independently.
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    You thought this would be easy to test? You're absolutely right: it is easy to test!

    The test you proposed has been done. Howard Shane did it some years ago. The FC proponents don't like it but they find all sorts of ways to defend their belief in FC from any attack mounted by the real world.

    FC isn't a communication method. It is basically a religious cult. They even sing songs in praise of it. Looks cultish to me... only those who believe in it can understand it properly, and that sort of thing. Ridiculous, really.

    But the enemy is not the people who use it and - surprise, surprise - get seriously immediate and significant results and who (based on this happening) become believers. The enemy is the Biklen-Crossley dyad, without whom this whole sorry situation for the family discussed in the article above would not have happened. Because they do not care that innocent people get wrongly accused and suffer some incredible miscarriages of justice. They even teach that a specific percentage of people for whom a facilitator will work have been sexually abused, regardless of the actual statistics - which indicate a far smaller proportion.

    When someone can explain to me how the same child can speak to request an item he wants, when he wants it but can not spontaneously speak to name that item when presented with a picture of the item, or the item itself, then I'll will likely have an answer to your question as well. To my mind the issues presented in oral praxis provide hints to the understanding the FC dilema. It is anything but simple and you are no more ignorant than all the rest of us.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, there's nothing like a zealot with a mission :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Status of comments to this blog entry

    1. There are now 11 comments to this blog entry.

    a. I posted the first comment to this blog entry nearly 2 days ago at 06/26/11 | 14:57 PM. Ms. Kim Wombles replied in 5 minutes.

    b. I posted my second comment ( comment #3) about 1/2 hour later, to which Ms. Wombles replied in less than 20 minutes.

    c. I posted my third comment (comment #5) nearly 6 hours later.

    2. Then, there were no further comments for a full day, but in the past 1/2 day there have been 6 comments from 4 different people.

    3. It is already about 8:30 p.m. here in Israel and I expect to have a busy evening. I hope to carefully read these 6 new comments and start to reply tomorrow.

    Arthur Golden

    kwombles
    So? You're kidding, right?
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Being on the autism spectrum, I am hardly ever kidding. I really hope to start to reply tomorrow, unless I am banned from posting comments as I know has happened to at least one other person.

    kwombles
    For someone who's too busy and who needs "time" to respond, that response was entirely too fast, Arthur. What, less than a dozen minutes after? You obviously did not give my comment the time and attention it needed before responding to it.
    Interesting that a short 16 months ago you were only considering you might be on the spectrum but now state that you are. What changed? Not that I would dream of disagreeing that you certainly have some traits on the broad autism phenotype. It seems to me that one could argue soundly that you bringing it up is an attempt at pity, one that doesn't work given that you demonstrated that you can indeed respond promptly when you so desire.

    Also, I confess I'm confused. Having grown exhaustingly familiar with your unique way of commenting, the fact that your first two comments didn't employ numbers, your third does, and your fourth doesn't, how am I supposed to keep track?

    And all of this again fails to address the key concerns raised in the article by Dr. Todd and me. Your failure to attend to those arguments is telling. 

    Let me remind you since it appears to be non-evident to you that this blog post and several of these comments have nothing to do with you. The world does not revolve around you. You should address the claims in the comment or confine yourself to responding to those who've replied to your comment. 
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    While I am appalled by what happened in the Wendrow case, there was more than enough guilt to go all the way around there. Blaming it on the process perse I can not see.

    Here is my beef. When approached we were more than willing to participate as a case study for one of the local University student's research/thesis project involving FC validity testing. The professor refused to allow the student to pursue the research project basically labeling it a waste of time. Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.

    At minimum, I believe in its use as a process to develop independent typing.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, you have an interesting perspective on priorities, that's for sure.  You think that a professor telling a researcher that FC is a waste of time, is somehow equivalent (in terms of responsibility) to an obviously biased facilitator that was not only lying and defrauding the family, but behaved criminally in promoting sexual abuse charges against an innocent family.

    If you want to see evidence, simply read the FC transcripts from the trial and you'll see how big a fraud this actually was. 

    There is no excuse, there is no explanation, there is nothing to justify this blatant abuse of an individual and the family.  Even the supposed response to questions assisted by the facilitator were little more than propagandist rubbish that were being presented as "real" communication.  I don't know how such people sleep at night.

    Although if you want to spread guilt around ... let's not forget the irresponsible, arrogant, idiot of a prosecutor, the child protective services people, and the police departments.  These are all individuals that should hang their heads in shame for the lousy job they did and for being too lazy to conduct a proper investigation. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    While I am appalled by what happened in the Wendrow case, there was more than enough guilt to go all the way around there. Blaming it on the process perse I can not see.

    Here is my beef. When approached we were more than willing to participate as a case study for one of the local University student's research/thesis project involving FC validity testing. The professor refused to allow the student to pursue the research project basically labeling it a waste of time. Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.

    At minimum, I believe in its use as a process to develop independent typing.

    Mr. Adam,

    You misread me. I do not seek to compair or equate the two at all.

    Mine is a different point entirely. The point I was trying to make is this. Separate from the issue of the Wendrow's case and what was done to them as an innocent family, the underlying issue is whether or not FC as used is ever (emphasis added) a valid process, let alone a valid process worthy of use given the ongoing risks involved in its use. As users we are often criticized for failing to subject ourselves to experimentation relative to the first issue. In our case, we offered to subject ourselves to a student's research experimentation which might have produced data in valid support of a particular case study use of FC. The research was disallowed because the invalidity of the process was foregone conclusion for the professor adviser and therefore, to his mind not worth the time and effort of further experimentation. I presume he too teaches about FC in same vain as Mr. Todd or Ms. Wombles might. For user families it presents as a no win situation.

    If I were to respond to the titled topic of this article it would be to say the point is not that FC is not evidence based, but rather that it may not be theoretically possible to make it evidence based within the confines of a verifiable psychological experiment given the nature of process.

    Gerhard Adam
    I don't know how recently you were dealing with this researcher, but FC has been out of favor for quite some time, and it is quite reasonable for a professor to advise one of his students that it isn't a worthwhile project to engage in.  This is no different than many other favorite projects that people have, perpetually demanding that someone take the time to investigate this "new angle" which holds no more promise that the old methods, but nevertheless, if scientists don't immediately respond positively, there's a sense that there's some subterfuge or cover-up occurring.

    The simple reality is that if FC is a legitimate practice, then it is up to those advocating its use to come up with the research projects, funding, and findings, to establish it as scientifically valid.  There are plenty of organizations that don't seem to have a problem promoting all manner of beliefs and yet, it appears that they don't fund any actual research into the methods they support.  In truth, just the evidence from this one trial casts such a serious shadow over any claims of FC (especially given how vested the facilitator and other "believers" were), that there is little wonder that it is discredited.  Even if we assume that it might work in a few cases, then it still isn't a reliable method of treatment and certainly given the obvious lack of professionalism in those that "practice" it, it seems little more than voodoo or black magic.

    If those "facilitators" had the slightest inclination towards the scientific, they would have been the first to express skepticism at the results instead of charging full ahead, knowing that what they were doing was a fraud.  Let's be clear about this.  It is fraud.  The "facilitators" knew that the girl wasn't capable of the communication that she was credited with, and the "facilitator" knew that what was being expressed were their own thoughts.  This is further evidenced by the psychologists that supported the use of FC, in suggesting that a "naive facilitator" be used to verify the claims (one without prior knowledge) because of past problems in this area.  All one has to do is examine the transcript of the "facilitated" essay to recognize rubbish.  It is clear that anyone crediting this girl with the substance of the essay is clearly in denial about her condition and simply accepting this false result as actual progress.  Like it or not, the girl was absolutely unable to express the knowledge and philosophical ideas that were present in the essay and yet no one thought to challenge this? 

    However, none of this advice from the psychologist was followed, which shows even more that the promoters of FC are NOT interested in scientific validity, but rather they are interested more in advancing their particular belief regardless of whether it is effective or not.  Given the lack of evidence for FC and the lack of any attempts to provide scientific validation, I view the actions of these "facilitators" as nothing short of criminal.  This is no different that the "psychics" that prey on emotionally vulnerable people, so that they can claim they are conversing with the dead or departed loved ones.  While some may believe such nonsense, it isn't scientific, and doesn't have any claim to scientific validity.  It's simply snake oil, with enough uninformed individuals all too willing to lap it up.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Why hasn't my comment from 10 hours ago been posted?

    I originally tried to post the following comment over 10 hours and I now realize it might have been put automatically on moderation because it contained live links. So I am trying to post a revised version without live links:

    I am sorry that you {Ms. Kim Wombles} have such difficulty comprehending my comments but fortunately parents of nonverbal persons where there is a life-saving need for Facilitated Communication never seem to have such difficulty in comprehending my comments.

    Please note that I wrote "I do not believe that further replies from me on such a forum are appropriate" which was obviously meant to exclude the current comment that contained 2 substantive statements:

    1) "I disagree with both the numerous personal comments made about me and the comments about Facilitated Communication" and

    2) " I hope to continue to post relevant messages to the public autismfc yahoo!group ( [ live link given to public archives of autismfc - see above] )."

    For the information of parents of nonverbal persons where there is a life-saving need for Facilitated Communication, today I posted a new message to autismfc [message #2074] which I know is very relevant:

    [live link deleted - see above live link to public archives of autismfc and go to message]

    "Retraction of message #1609 [posted April 11, 2008] - "FC - I suspend encouraging its use""

    which repeats message #2054 (June 7, 2011):

    "FC (Facilitated Communication) & the most basic human right of LIFE"

    And if it is not theoretically possible to make it evidence based within the confines of a verifiable psychological experiment given the nature of process?????. Do you automatically throw it out. Answering solely as an educator your answer may well be yes. As a parent, with different issues, needs and possibly looking to use it in an entirely different environment, my answer may be no.

    My son used his FC to tell me he threw my mop outside because it stunk. That is exactly where I later found it, tossed upside down and askew, sticking out of a snow bank outside the back door .Hardly experimental evidence, but enough for me as a recipient of the communication.

    That being said I still have to agree with much of what you argue. Even assuming FC does work for a select few, the risk is both monumental and perpetual (I.e.ever present with each communication. Just because someone can communicate doesn't negate the possibility of their being influenced in their communication.) Not unlike fire, FC's negative consequences can often outpower its positive uses. Whether it has a place in education? From a parent's perspective, "How well do you trust your educators?". Barring that, and speaking as to home use as alternative,
    " How well do you trust yourself?"

    Within my family's personal educational experience we could easily have equally had Wendrowian results. Almost did. Within our home, used as an all around developmental support, and to ultimately train, and produce independent typing skills it was nothing less than a God send. Ours is one experience. Just as the Wendrow's was one experience. Does the later offset the former? Mine is not an objective eye, but even amid the ills I would not trade my subjective experience.

    Gerhard Adam
    Hardly experimental evidence, but enough for me as a recipient of the communication.
    Perhaps so, but unfortunately it never stays that personal.  There are people that will try and elevate it to a scientific, professional status that is unwarranted, which then produces all the vested interests.  This is what is so startling about the Wendrow case.  It isn't that FC didn't work, or that it was contrived.  What is startling is that the "facilitators" leveled such a horrific, serious charge against a father from his daughter, and against the entire family ... and it NEVER occurred to them to question what they were doing?  You would think that a normal human being would at least question the basis for such a serious accusation, but instead their zealotry and belief in their system was almost religious and FC became a crusade.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Vested interests? Absolutely. Though I would tend to argue it extends, at least somewhat, to all sides.

    And if you can begrudge me my "personal" use, well then even that required someone to train the initial technique. The authors' position would seem to practically disallow for that, since an absence of educators equally means an absence of trainers.

    Every medicine, even the best medicines, come with potential side effects, and yes some of those side effects can be fatal. FC is no different. Admittedly, the potential risks and side effects are substantially higher and greater. The best any of us can do is to weigh the relative need against the risks, always with a view to what may be other more acceptable possible alternatives, and always as applied with extreme caution. By all means we should use the most tried and true first. But where it doesn't work because that is not your child??? We had horrific results with ABA . The then dysfunction of my son's sensory system could not support the technique. Yet this would in no way cause me to dissuade someone else from using ABA as a first line of attack. Similarly, I've seen errors in ABA technique as applied many a time. Does that mean weI should consider banning it simply because every practitioner is not an equally good technician? How does that differ from your ban the facilitator argument?

    To my mind FC works for a certain rare genre of child. As an educator, and given all of the risks involved, you may well be able to justify chalking that child up to a loss. As that child's parent I can not.

    Gerhard Adam
    The problem here is that you believe that FC works, while the scientific community's position is that it does not.  Therefore it isn't a matter of whether it is a risky procedure, or that it is only partially effective, it is a matter of belief only.

    Where would you draw a line?  If a parent believes that they can psychically communicate would that be acceptable?  Why not through a Ouija board?  Why not through someone claiming that they can "channel" the child?  There are undoubtedly people that would believe every one of these methods might work.  Would you argue that our educators are consequently responsible to teach these techniques for those that would believe in their effectiveness?

    The point here, is that you cannot expect people to be trained in such questionable methods thereby granting them a position of credibility they don't deserve.  Instead, my point is that whatever you personally believe, you are certainly free to pursue, but it is unreasonable to expect that an infrastructure exist to support such methods without strong evidence.

    Consider this .... suppose that, in the Wendrow case, the courts had adopted a similar position and simply accepted FC because they believed in it regardless of evidence.  Should this family have been convicted based solely on the beliefs of the prosecutor and judges?  I'm sure you would agree that this was precisely the problem in bringing charges in the first place.  It was a form of "communication" that had no credibility and consequently deserved NO consideration as to its effectiveness regardless of belief. 

    This is the problem when we begin to allow people's beliefs to dictate actions.  We, as a society, simply revert to a more superstitious existence where personal viewpoints instead of evidence govern what occurs.  Without over-stating the case, this is precisely what gave rise to the Salem Witch trials.  Here was a clear case of where individual belief and hearsay overruled actual evidence.  The reason for bringing that up is not to instill drama, but to illustrate that even the church leaders became uncomfortable with how that process worked and ultimately stopped the trials because it was simply a result of hysteria rather than evidence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    D.1.-D.3. [numbering used in comments to prior blog entry of Ms. Kim Wombles in April 2010 - I have decided to continue using this numbering for my future comments to Ms. Wombles.]

    D.4. In late June 2011 I wrote in a comment to a blog entry of Ms. Kim Wombles that "I do not believe that further replies from me on such a forum are appropriate." However, neither do I wish to leave "misunderstandings" outstanding, so I will start to reply to some of the explicit comments, especially when directed to me. Since it is almost impossible to keep track of comments on "such a forum" (meaning blog entries), I plan to post these comments as messages to the public archives of my "autismfc" yahoo!group. I am tempted to post some of my replies directly to the comments to the blog entry but I will try to overcome my temptations, reserving the right to change my mind if I feel the temptation is too strong. When I have actually post any such messages to autismfc, I will provide a live link on the blog entry, realizing that any comments containing live links are automatically put on moderation.

    I wholly understand your position as an educator. That is my dilemma. And while I also see the position as reminiscent of the adage “sacrifice the few for good of the many”, I am equally sure, given the adjunct risks involved that both you and Mr. Todd, would instead view it as actually potentially saving the few not sacrificing them.
    In end you are correct -
    “The problem here is that you believe that FC works, while the scientific community's position is that it does not. “
    I do believe, that in at least some instances, individual users are actually communicating through FC. I also believe it is not possible to make FC evidence based since the nature of the process, which may even differ somewhat person to person, may not be conducive to psychological experimentation. Surely there are other things which are not reasonably scientifically testable.

    “Instead, my point is that whatever you personally believe, you are certainly free to pursue, but it is unreasonable to expect that an infrastructure exist to support such methods without strong evidence.”

    And yet that infrastructure does exist to support such methods. Isn’t that the whole point and cause of fury, that you would have what is there abolished for fact that the process is not scientifically evidence based? Hence, families are free to pursue it but should not be given the means to do so.

    And what about the alternate perspective/definition of “works”. I've seen it nowhere addressed. Is it not possible to argue “FC works” from a purely therapeutic rather than a communicative perspective. How does the scientific evidence play out on this? I do not work among the autistic population, but I am told that there are often huge behavioral gains that accompany the use of FC with an individual. Whether this is because the individual is actually communicating or just because people are now treating him/her differently I won’t speculate. Is it enough that in some instances engaging in FC produces behaviorally positive results where other treatment attempts have not? I pose the question even as I grapple to come to an answer for myself. In way, it leads us back to your question “Where do you draw the line?” Should it matter that the reason for FC's application and end goal is often the positive behavioral results anticipated not just communication in and of itself? FC proponents might chastise me for suggesting it, but should this be a consideration in evaluating it as a process? I do not have an end conclusion, other than to perhaps suggest that where behaviorally effective, and where the alternative is the Judge Rottenburgs of the world, its use may bear some consideration.

    Perhaps that is the end point. FC is not generally used with the child who readily responds to alternate, more acceptable evidence-based methods of treatment. Instead, it is almost always part of a last ditch effort for the nonresponsive client. Having unsuccessfully exhausted all other avenues of approach, as educators, what then is your proposed alternative? Are we back to chalking the child up as a lost cause?

    “The point here, is that you cannot expect people to be trained in such questionable methods thereby granting them a position of credibility they don't deserve.”

    I read this as either crediting parents and others too little their judgments on what constitutes true credibility, or perhaps you just attach far too much credibility to “training certificates” in their own right. Parents are far better able to distinguish the wheat from the chaff than you might think. There are many “trained experts” in positions of “credibility” that don’t deserve to be there; this is true of all manner of profession. For most individual user’s families, FC’s credibility is born of results, both behavioral and via the verifiable communications that come over time, not a trainers supposed qualifications.

    I'd conclude by thanking you. This it has been an interesting and thought provoking exchange for me and I appreciate both your comments and the professional manner in which you provided them. It is refreshing to engage in a civil discourse over what is a difficult and so often an emotionally charged topic at best.

    Gerhard Adam
    Thank you as well. 
    Parents are far better able to distinguish the wheat from the chaff than you might think.
    I can fully understand your point, but to extend it ... it never just stops with the parents, which is precisely why we ended up with the Wendrow case.  If parents were all that was to it, then I suspect there'd be much less controversy.  This is why I maintained that such practices aren't allowed.  It isn't that people can't relate to the concept of a last-ditch attempt, or even where it could work (or appear to work) on occasion.  In our society, it immediately rises to the level of either an accepted practice (and all its attendant legal ramifications) or it is discredited.

    There are many such situations in life, where an individual may well go beyond what the medical profession expects, or even achieving objectives that were thought to be impossible.  However, they can never be applied as a standard against which others can place their expectations.  In my view, this is directly a consequence of our modern society and the unfortunate reality that people want guarantees or assurances.   It is no different when we have to go through extensive approval and verification processes to allow drugs on the market which may well save people's lives, but for which they are not given the opportunity in the interest of the public safety and the inevitable lawsuits that would follow with less diligence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    D.5. The above D.1.-D.4. was posted by me (Arthur Golden) as comment #27 on early June 30, 2011. Since then through Thursday night USA time June 30, 2011, comments #28-32 have been posted by Gerhard Adam and momofblogger. The original blog entry cowritten by Professor James Todd and Ms. Kim Wombles prints out to 3 pages and the 32 comments print out to 12 pages

    D.6. (After writing the following point, I decided to post it immediately as a comment to the blog entry, planning to write more later and trying to withstand the temptation to post it as a comment and instead only post it as a message to autistfc.)

    I believe Facilitated Communication is not a "demonstrably dangerous pseudoscience" nor is it among "harmful, scientifically rejected practices in the classroom" and when it is shown that such statements are based on Research Fraud (with an interim report expected in 6 months), there will be no foundation for continuing to make such statements. Please note that in their recent blog entry:

    Professor James Todd wrote:

    "Why would a prestigious university like Syracuse tolerate, much less champion, an "Institute" devoted to a pseudoscientific intervention that simply does not work as its proponents claim?... ...universities will find it in their interest to avoid offering courses in demonstrably dangerous pseudoscience."

    and Ms. Kim Wombles wrote:

    "A new article by Brian J. Gorman, Catherine J. Wynne, Christopher J. Morse, and James T. Todd, "Psychology and Law in the Classroom: How the use of Clinical Fads in the Classroom may Awaken the Educational Malpractice Claim," raises the issue of educational malpractice claims and uses the thoroughly discredited and debunked facilitated communication to highlight the need for educators to be held accountable for the use of "harmful, scientifically rejected practices in the classroom."

    Perhaps if schools can be held negligent for USING scientifically-invalidated methods such as FC with special needs (and other students), the bonus to this would be that universities will be less likely to cash in on discredited but lucrative methods and create departments that teach how to use scientifically-invalidated methods like Syracuse University has."

    I'd never heard of 'Facilitated Communication' in this context until this incident...

    So the unfortunate child could write 'perfectly' (!!!) when guided across a keyboard ??

    One phrase immediately sprang to mind: Ouija Board.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouija

    kwombles
    Lending credence to the hypothesis that Art and his cronies are only interested in FC articles so that they can attempt to spread their propaganda, the piece that really should have had them going, "Skepticism Of Stories To Good To Be True," has has a  single comment, and that piece is the one that really points out why FC is so very wrong. 

    I am, of course, not in any way suggesting Art should feel the need to leave his bizarrely coded responses there. If he, however, actually wanted to rebut the arguments made, that would be different. 


    With today's technology and the wealth of disconfirming evidence on FC, there is no justification for using FC.


    Independent communication means no hands-on manipulation and no facilitator nearby to cue. And it means no canned responses that the individual hits a keyboard to play. We're patient; we can wait for an individual to type his or her answers completely independently. What's the rush, right, when we want to honor the person's freedom to communication indepedently?
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Mr. Adam,
    The above site was not posted for purpose of referencing it. It was in fact a test posting to see if the addition of an http; site address would automatically move the posting to a status of delayed moderation. Where successful, It was my intent to post a private message to Kwombles. Obviously, the test failed. I have since googled an email address for her and hope to contact her that way. I also requested the http:// address be removed from commentary but you are alas too fast for me in responding to it :).

    And no, your comments are not frustrating in the least. They are no less than I would expect or offer myself in your position.

    kwombles
    You're free to post your comments to me here. Please do not contact me at that email address, as I will not respond there. Considering the blog in concern is on the Autism Blogs Directory, something I believe you were aware of, you should be aware of my other email address. I have no interest in private contact with you unless it regards your blog's listing on my directory. 
    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Fine. Here then is my comment. Irrespective the merits of the article presented, I fail to understand why you feel the need to taunt, disrespect and berate Arthur repeatedly in commentary. Such responses add even less to the discussion than what you suggest Arthur’s do. To extent his comments are” bizarrely coded”(your words) you should feel no need to respond to them at all. Arthur is clearly on spectrum. You are not. Your behavior is ill reflective of your supposed professionalism and the points you actually wish to make. it.

    And no, I was not aware the blog in question was on the Autism blog directory. Have never seen it. The article was brought to my attention and since my previous field is law I found the premise interesting.

    I can not speak for others, but I can assure you it is not, nor has it ever been, my intention to propogandize through response commentary. To that end, if you are in control of moderation I would request and appreciate the deletion of the errored http posting as I would not want it to be misinterpretted as did happen with Mr. Adam.

    kwombles
    Maybe it was your son who's familiar with it; he's posted to Countering before and he uses facilitated communication, and the directory is pretty prominently featured. Ah well, the mysteries of it all.   I'm pretty sure this was a blog added as a request, not something I did because I happened to run across it, but with over 600 bloggers, it's possible I'm mistaken. 

    As to your comment itself:

    Let's look at it this way, I was free to comment on Arthur, whose persistence, rudeness, and prior accusations  on another post (and for that matter here) bordered on at the very least extremely offensive and at worst vile, as we have a 16 month history of hundreds of exchanges. 

    Sure, I was free to not respond. Just as you were free not to concern troll. But you didn't and I didn't and here we are. 

    Since you decided to ignore my comment that I felt it unfair to delete your comment since Gerhard's response would disappear, I'll post Gerhard's comment here so it isn't lost and he's free to copy it and repost it.

    "Before this makes any sense, aren't we already being asked to believe that its authentic, and thereby these statements are used to prove themselves?  It's a circular argument.  I can appreciate that it may be frustrating to hear that, but I have no way of knowing who posted those entries or by what means.  I read the essay that was "written" in the Wendrow case and what was written when the facilitator wasn't present, so it will take more than a few internet posts to convince me, personally, of their authenticity.
    I suppose one test I'd like to see is the same ideas being expressed with several different facilitators, all of whom are unknown to each other and have no previous experience with the individual.  If there were some consistency in the ideas being voiced, it might lend more credibility that it isn't simply the facilitator reflecting their own perspectives on things."
    Gerhard Adam | 07/01/11 | 19:39 PM
    I've deleted the comment you were concerned about. I will not feel obliged to delete any further comments from you, though. If you want the ability to delete your own comments, perhaps registering for the site is something you should consider.






    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    "Since you decided to ignore my comment that I felt it unfair to delete your comment since Gerhard's response would disappear, I'll post Gerhard's comment here so it isn't lost and he's free to copy it and repost it."

    Not sure where/when this comment was offered but I simply did not see it. In any case I have no difficulty with Gerhard's response standing as it was a perfectly valid one in absence of any further explanation and given what he thought he was being presented with.

    And yes i did read the Price too High article. I believe it was actually posted as link on the FC yahoo group at some point. I thought it an excellent article.

    As to my "concern trolling". I can only say it is a pity no one thought to do it in the Wendrow case. If they had attitudes of professional and/or personal superiority might not have prevailed and perhaps the situation would not have escalated to the point it did for the family.

    kwombles
    It was directly under your post you wanted deleted.
    In the comments I linked to the newer post on Skepticism of Stories to Good to be true. The one you mention is linked at the beginning of the article.

    The fact is that the Wendrows were introduced to FC through someone who should have known better, allowed to have it implemented in the school because the school was afraid of being sued and none of this would have happened if (1) McClennen hadn't recommended it, and (2) the Wendrows had done some double checking, and (3) the school refused to implement it. Sure, we can go on and list all the other fubars, but it originated with a professional recommending what she had to know was a dubious at best recommendation. It started there and it's a result solely resting at FC's door. The Wendrows deserve our deepest sympathies for being so laid astray by a professional who absolutely had to know she was on the wrong side of science. They didn't go out and comment on all the blogs or stories they could find defending FC and insisting that anyone who speaks against is a fraud or worse (see left brain/right brain blog this week for Stanley, one of Arthur's friends, doing the same old tiresome shtick). 

    There's a vast difference between being the suckered parent who didn't know any better and the well-informed parent who's been exposed to the overwhelming evidence that FC doesn't work and chooses to believe otherwise and tries to convince others it works. One's a victim. One's trying to make others victims, too.

    As for being denied the chance to have it tested at a university, the test is easy enough to do it. Stop facilitating, place your son with a stranger who doesn't touch him, hand your son the keyboard, and get out of the room. Video it, and see what he can do without you or his regular facilitators there and with no one touching him. And you'll have your answer as to what he can do on his own. Set up a blind test with a naive facilitator and with you not present. Betcha there's a psychologist who's aware of FC and who follows the APA guidelines who would create a blind test for you if you're willing to pay. That is, if you really want to know. Post your evidence to youtube. Maybe, if there's anything to your claims, you'll get researcher interest. 

    Hey, there's a researcher by the name of Grayson in England who's big into case studies of FC to "prove" it works.  You could always try that.

    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    D7. I was not aware of your other blog entry until very recently and I have not had the opportunity to read it yet. There are now 41 comments to this blog entry and I also want to carefully read all of them before I make any further comments. It is hard for me to read so many comments on the screen, so I printed them out (total of 15 pages). I realize that I cannot keep track of my own comments unless I number them, as I have begun to do here. I am sorry that Ms. Wombles finds that so bizarre but I have no other solution to my own deficiencies. I especially wish to write a comment in defence of Professor Emeritus Sandra McClennen. However, I feel constrained from freely expressing myself on the blog entries of Ms. Wombles because she has deleted my comments in the past, for reasons I do not understand even with her attempts to explain her reasons. It is also more difficult for me to write comments without providing live links, but it seems that live links automatically result in moderation (which I accept) but then one such comment on an earlier blog was never approved. Therefore, I will leave out any live links here. If I decide to post any further comments here or to the new blog entry, I expect I will not be ready to do so for another day or two

    “There's a vast difference between being the suckered parent who didn't know any better and the well-informed parent who's been exposed to the overwhelming evidence that FC doesn't work and chooses to believe otherwise and tries to convince others it works. One's a victim. One's trying to make others victims, too.”

    Your position effectively disallows for anyone to carry on an intelligent discussion of the topic in open forum or render disagreement with you on any level or aspect of topic without automatically being labeled a “victimizer” by you. While there are a myriad of educational programs and strategies I would promote in front and lieu of FC, I am not going to sit here and deny my experience in order to avoid your misplaced label or for benefit of your arguments where faulty.

    In outlining the test you proposed, are you suggesting that verification of independent typing skills for those who have used FC might be one way to validate FC? I had once considered it a theoretical possibility, but Mr.Todd disavowed me of the notion when he rightly pointed out that even in a situation of individual positive test outcome you still would not know what other influencing factors might have entered in to that individual’s learning to type independently. In our case by example, my child has had years of added OT intervention aimed at developing various isolated motor skill areas and aqua therapy, both of which have helped tremendously in progressing the independent typing skills. And while absent the side value of the interim FC, I would never have put in 12 years worth of energy directed at teaching him to type independently, I have to agree with Mr. Todd in suggesting one is not necessarily consequent / correlative of the other.

    “As for being denied the chance to have it tested at a university…”

    In our instance, the student from the University initially approached us about it, not the other way around. Having been indebted to that same University, for having provided us hours of free occupational therapy services and specially designed programs geared toward developing various motor skills necessary to support the development of my son’s independent typing skills, I would never have declined a reasonable request that we participate in a student’s study thesis whatever the topic. Having said that I will also say FC is not my battle. I have no need to test it on a scientific level. Where my son can tell me that he tossed the mop out, or where he’s hidden the soda bottle, or any other manner of stupid little verifiable things I did not know I hardly need to pay someone to structure me a program so I know he is communicating. Given the individualized nature of the process I do not think it possible to devise a generic test to fairly test FC in any case. And even where a valid individualized case study might be devised I do not see the purpose/value. In fact, I’d argue such case studies might actually promote more harm than good, especially where the scientific evidence already shows facilitator influence to be a real issue. In essence, it is the same problem in reverse presentation from the current state of the science, wherein the nonperformance of one (or more accurately a substantial some) is now seen as determinative of the non-prowess of all others. As between the two, I prefer the current state of affairs. The current position is the far lesser evil.

    While I understand the assertions and concerns of both sides, I feel inclined toward neither, or perhaps better said disinclined toward both. Both have their merits. Both have their shortcomings. As educators I can well understand why you would want to always err on the side of caution, safety and reliability in your educational practices. The only problem I see with this is sometimes the options run out or the leftover alternatives may be even more distasteful than privately pursuing a non-evidence based practice in a highly skeptical and cautious manner.

    OT’s have practiced directed guidance for years without much hoopla. I’ve often wondered over what constitutes the difference between the two since the practical application looked pretty much the same for us. Perhaps it is one acceptable alternative.

    "With today's technology and the wealth of disconfirming evidence on FC, there is no justification for using FC."

    Certainly there is a myriad of technology today that was not available when we started out some 12 - 15 years ago. If however you mean to imply that current technology is not susceptible to communicator influence, I would have to disagree.

    kwombles
    Considering it is today's technology being used during facilitated communication, it's obviously possible to use it and co-opt the individual's communication. That is not the point: there is NO justification for holding an individual's hand, using a dowel to guide his typing, or in any other way physically assisting the individual to type. 
    Output should be done without physical assistance, and it should be done consistently in different settings. Yes, a trained facilitator who has had the time and experience to subtly cue a client would not need to have his hands on the person; he would just need to be in the client's visible field.

    There is a world of difference between using hands-on methods to instruct children and pretending that the hand-held communication is the student's alone.

    Ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable should trump every single time using a method that multiple professional organizations have renounced as being uniformly unworkable. 

    If you want to assess what your son can really do on his own, then I think it's pretty obvious how to figure that out. If you want to make sure that output is always genuinely his own, I think you also know how to ensure that. Protestations otherwise are simply a refusal to look at the situation honestly and openly, based on the science.

    There's no point in discussing the value of facilitated communication with its proponents. The science is unequivocally clear that it doesn't work. It should never be used. That doesn't mean we don't continue to teach students using hand-over-hand methods where appropriate--it just doesn't count as independent output. 

    There are plenty of ways to ensure that even the most physically handicapped of individuals who understand language can communicate. And that perhaps is the pivotal point: that some individuals may be so disabled that they don't understand language and are profoundly impaired. That some parents would rather have false communication and the fairy tale they create rather than the reality and the work that may not pay off for years or ever. And that's the problem: as long as it's about what the parent wants rather than making sure that the child's autonomy and communication is protected, you're going to have parents who fall for the "I love you" gambit that facilitators hook parents on.

    As long as parents, educators, and facilitators are physically or otherwise cuing the communication, they are denying the individual the chance to learn to communicate independently. And that, whether you're prepared to acknowledge it or not, is a travesty and the ultimate betrayal of the individual.






    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    About my comments on research fraud by some of the opponents of FC, the misunderstanding of Ms. Kim Wombles is so extreme that I have decided to not even attempt any further explanation on this or any other blog entry.

    Look for my interim report in about 6 months.

    kwombles
    Given the comments you've made recently regarding Dr. Todd here and elsewhere (I'll take a play from your book and copy it below),  I seriously doubt I've misunderstood what you are getting at. The fact that you've chosen to create an email account with Dr. Todd's name and use it to join your yahoo fc group so that you can post his comments to news articles and blogs under that name there doesn't speak well of you, either.
    This comment of yours is a cop-out. It's one I'm fine with, though, and I hope that when your "interim report" is done six months from now you do not bother to post it here or on any of my other articles here or elsewhere.


    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2011/06/a-controversial-autism-therapy-unravels-a-family/

    Author: Arthur Golden
    Comment:
    Professor James Todd writes about " the multiple FC court cases, mostly civil, that have popped up over the last few years."  My rule of thumb is that "few" as in "the last few years" means 3 and therefore 3 years.  Assuming it means 3 years, "mostly civil" means some were criminal court cases, but the last criminal court case seems to be the Wendrow case, which ended in criminal court in April 2008, over 3 years ago, so by my rule of thumb it was outside "the last few years."  During the last 3 years, there has been only the Wendrow case in civil court, although if you count all the separate proceedings, I guess Professor Todd could count the Wendrow case as "multiple FC court cases" but I think it is more reasonable to count it as just one civil court case in the last few years.  If provided additional information, I will change my statements, but I strongly doubt that there is any additional information.  This is just another example of the gross exaggerations about Facilitated Communications by Professor Todd.
    Arthur Golden

    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” --MLK, Jr.
    Gerhard Adam
    I find it interesting that one would haggle over the number of criminal court cases.  It reminds me of the old joke :

    "Other than THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?"
    Mundus vult decipi
    last comment of Ms. Wombles read and noted.

    D9. About 5 hours ago I tried to post the following comment: "I just posted as message #2083 to the public archives of autismfc a long "Background Statement" (D8) to the thread "Facilitated Communication - research fraud by some of its opponents" and then I gave a live link, which I have now deleted. Since it appears that any comment with a live link is automatically put on moderation, I received the message "Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval". Since I am concerned that my comment from 5 hours ago will not be approved because autismfc message #2083 contains several live links and the site administrotor may not wish to check them out in order to approve my comment, I am posting this comment without a live link that I expect will be posted immediately.

    However, if you scroll up to message #17 (not actually numbered but found if one counts down the comments) posted 06/28/11, 23:29 PM, there is a live link to the autismfc messages. Click onto that live link. Then scroll down to near the bottom and you will see message # 2083 listed on the left. Then click onto the subject name of "Facilitated Communication - research fraud by some of its opponents." I would prefer that any comments be posted to autismfc, but you will need to become a member first, which is automatic. Messages posted by all new members need to be approved by the moderator until the moderator decides to allow immediate posting of messages. All messages go into an archives accessible to the whole world, but messages can be deleted by the moderator.

    I was wrong about the site administrator! Just as I posted my comment (#50), my comment (#49) posted over 5 hours earlier finally appears, with its live link. I guess i have to be patient. My thanks to the site administrator for going through the effort to check out that my live links were, I presume, not dangerous to the website or its users.