History Of Facilitated Communication

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In the early 1990s, an educational treatment program was spreading like wildfire all over the U.S. and Canada. This program, known as facilitated communication, promised to revolutionize the way people treated debilitating conditions such as autism and profound mental retardation. The idea behind facilitated communication was that many people with autism or severe mental retardation actually possess normal levels of intelligence. The problem, advocates of facilitated communication argued, is that these conditions simply prevent people from expressing themselves (because of verbal or motor deficits). If you could read the mind of a person with severe autism, the argument went, you would discover a person who could read at a high level, express sophisticated emotions, and even write a touching essay about the pain and isolation of living with autism.…show more content…
Advocates of facilitated communication thought so, and they produced what initially appeared to be remarkable evidence in favor of their position. Autistic and mentally retarded children began to express themselves in profound ways. They did so with the assistance of facilitators - whose job it was to steady the hands of the disabled communicators while they typed or pointed to keys on a letter board. Story after story emerged about mentally disabled persons who, with the aid of a facilitator, began to express themselves in amazing ways. People diagnosed as autistic or retarded scored well on standard IQ tests, wrote brilliant essays, and even composed
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