An intervention that works, and one that doesn’t

There was a story on News24 this week about how the iPad is being used in South Africa to help children with autism communicate. Applications developed for the iPad are very useful in this regard. This has been known in other countries for a while now.
A second story I saw was very alarming. Julian Wendrow was accused of sexually abusing his autistic daughter. His wife Thal was accused of ignoring the abuse. Then I read that the accusations came about when the daughter was using Facilitated Communication.
Uh oh.
In Facilitated Communication, a Facilitator “guides” the arm of a disabled child to “help” him or her type on a keyboard. Notice the inverted commas? In every case where Facilitated Communication has been tested, it has been shown that the communication has come from the Facilitator, not the Facilitatee. In one such experiment, Facilitator and Facilitatee were simultaneously shown pictures that the other couldn’t see. Sometimes the pictures shown to the two were the same, sometimes they differed. In every case, the Facilitatee typed what the Facilitator saw. As one comment put it, Facilitated Communication turns the “Facilitatee” into a ventriloquists’s dummy. It now looks as if the case has been dropped, but the damage has been done.
Perhaps the worst part of the story is that the Wendrows themselves requested that Facilitated Communication be used.


About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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