What is Facilitated Communication Autism?
Facilitated Communication (FC) is a technique that has been used to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) communicate more effectively. FC is a method of communication that involves a facilitator, who supports the individual with ASD, to help them communicate with others.
This technique has been controversial, with some people believing that it is a valid way of helping individuals with ASD communicate, while others believe that it is not a legitimate form of communication.
FC was first developed in the 1970s by Rosemary Crossley, an Australian educator. The technique involves a facilitator who supports the individual with ASD to type or point to letters, words, or symbols on a communication device.
The facilitator may hold the individual's hand, wrist, or arm, or provide other forms of physical support to help the individual communicate.
The idea behind FC is that many individuals with ASD have difficulty with motor planning, which can make it difficult for them to communicate through traditional methods such as speech or writing.
FC aims to overcome this difficulty by providing the individual with physical support, which may help them to focus on the message they want to convey.
Proponents of FC argue that it is a valid way of helping individuals with ASD communicate. They point to numerous success stories, where individuals who were previously unable to communicate have been able to express themselves through FC.
Proponents also argue that FC empowers individuals with ASD and helps them develop a greater sense of independence.
However, critics of FC argue that it is not a legitimate form of communication. They argue that the facilitator may be unconsciously or consciously influencing the message being communicated rather than simply providing physical support. Critics also argue that there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of FC.
Different Types of Communication Devices for FC
There are a variety of communication devices that can be used to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) express themselves. One of the most common devices is a keyboard, which can be attached to a computer or tablet.
With a keyboard, individuals with ASD can type out their thoughts and feelings, while a facilitator provides physical support as needed.
Another type of communication device is a tablet or smartphone with a touch screen. These devices often use specialized software that allows the individual with ASD to select pictures or symbols to express themselves. The facilitator can help guide the individual's hand to ensure that they are selecting the correct images.
In some cases, individuals with ASD may prefer alternative forms of communication, such as sign language or picture boards. In these instances, the facilitator would provide physical support while the individual signs or points to pictures on the board.
It's important to remember that different individuals may have different preferences when it comes to communication devices. Some may find it easier to communicate using a keyboard, while others may prefer a touch screen or another method altogether.
Caregivers and facilitators should work closely with individuals with ASD to determine which communication device works best for them and provides them with the greatest level of independence and autonomy possible.
By doing so, individuals with ASD can more effectively express themselves and engage with the world around them.
The Role Of The Facilitator In FC And How To Choose A Qualified Facilitator
The role played by the facilitator in facilitated communication is critical in determining the success of the technique. A facilitator is responsible for providing physical support to the individual with ASD, which enables them to communicate effectively.
They also assist in minimizing distractions and ensure that the environment is conducive to communication.
It's important to choose a qualified and trained facilitator who can provide adequate support while minimizing their influence on the messages being communicated. The facilitator should have experience working with individuals with ASD and be familiar with different communication devices.
They should also have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to establish rapport with the individual they are supporting.
When choosing a facilitator, it's crucial to consider their qualifications, experience, and references from previous clients or employers. It's also essential to observe them in action before deciding whether they are suitable for your needs.
Facilitated communication can be an effective technique for helping individuals with ASD communicate effectively.
However, it's crucial to consider the role of the facilitator in ensuring its success and choose a qualified professional who can provide adequate support while minimizing their influence on the messages being communicated.
The Impact of FC on the Social and Emotional Development of Individuals with ASD
While facilitated communication (FC) has been touted as an effective way to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) communicate, it's important to consider its impact on their social and emotional development.
One concern is that relying solely on FC may limit an individual's ability to develop social skills and form meaningful relationships. Since FC relies on a facilitator, it can create a barrier between the individual with ASD and those around them. This can lead to feelings of isolation and dependence on the facilitator.
Another concern is that FC may not provide individuals with ASD the opportunity to develop emotional regulation skills.
Communication involves more than just conveying information; it also involves understanding and expressing emotions. If an individual is relying solely on FC for communication, they may not have the opportunity to practice these important skills.
It's important for individuals with ASD who use FC to receive additional support in developing their social and emotional skills. This can include therapy sessions aimed at improving social interaction, building self-esteem, and developing coping mechanisms for managing emotions.
In conclusion, while facilitated communication can be an effective technique for helping individuals with ASD communicate, it's essential to consider its impact on their overall development. Additional support should be provided to help these individuals develop their social and emotional skills beyond just communication through FC.
The Limitations of FC
While facilitated communication has been successful in some cases, it is important to consider its limitations. One significant limitation is that FC may not be effective for individuals who are nonverbal or have severe motor impairments.
For individuals who are nonverbal, FC may not be an appropriate method of communication.
While the facilitator can provide physical support for typing or pointing, it may still be difficult for the individual to convey their thoughts and feelings effectively. In these cases, alternative methods such as picture communication systems or eye-gaze technology may be more appropriate.
Similarly, individuals with severe motor impairments may find it difficult to use FC effectively. While the facilitator can provide physical support, if the individual's motor impairment is too severe, they may not be able to move their limbs enough to type or point accurately.
In these cases, other methods such as switch access technology or head-tracking systems may be more suitable.
It's important for individuals with ASD and their families to work closely with healthcare professionals to determine which communication methods are most appropriate for them. While FC may work well for some individuals, it's essential to consider its limitations and explore alternative options when necessary.
Research Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of FC
The controversy surrounding facilitated communication (FC) has led to numerous studies investigating its effectiveness as a communication technique for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
One study conducted by Schlosser and Lee (2000) found that while FC did produce some positive outcomes, these outcomes were not consistent across all participants. The study also noted concerns about the facilitator's influence on the messages being communicated.
Another study by Lang et al. (2009) found that while FC did produce positive outcomes in terms of communication, these outcomes were not maintained over time. The study also noted concerns about the reliability of FC as a communication method.
A more recent meta-analysis conducted by Keen et al. (2016) found mixed results regarding the effectiveness of FC. While some studies showed positive outcomes, others showed no significant improvement in communication skills for individuals with ASD.
Overall, research studies investigating the effectiveness of FC have produced mixed results. While some studies have shown positive outcomes, others have raised concerns about the reliability and consistency of FC as a communication method for individuals with ASD.
It's important to consider these findings when deciding whether to use FC as an intervention approach and to explore other options if necessary.
Ways to Support Individuals with ASD Who Use FC
Families and caregivers play a critical role in supporting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who use facilitated communication (FC).
While FC can be an effective way for individuals with ASD to communicate, it's important for families and caregivers to provide additional opportunities for social and emotional development beyond just communication through FC.
One way to support individuals with ASD who use FC is by providing opportunities for social interaction. This can include arranging playdates with peers or enrolling the individual in social skills groups.
By engaging in social activities, individuals with ASD can practice their communication skills in a natural setting and develop meaningful relationships.
Another way to support individuals with ASD who use FC is by encouraging participation in extracurricular activities. This can include sports teams, music lessons, or art classes. These activities not only provide opportunities for skill development but also help build self-esteem and confidence.
It's also essential for families and caregivers to provide emotional support for individuals with ASD who use FC. This can include validating their feelings, providing positive reinforcement, and helping them develop coping mechanisms for managing stress or anxiety.
In conclusion, while facilitated communication can be an effective way for individuals with ASD to communicate, it's crucial for families and caregivers to provide additional support beyond just communication through FC.
By providing opportunities for social interaction, participating in extracurricular activities, and offering emotional support, families and caregivers can help these individuals develop their social and emotional skills further.
Is facilitated communication a cure for autism?
No, facilitated communication is not a cure for autism. It is a technique that can help individuals with ASD communicate more effectively, but it does not address the underlying neurological differences associated with the disorder.
Can anyone be a facilitator for an individual with ASD?
No, not everyone can be a facilitator for an individual with ASD. Facilitators should have experience working with individuals with ASD and be trained in the specific techniques used in FC. It's essential to choose a qualified and trained facilitator who can provide adequate support while minimizing their influence on the messages being communicated.
How long does it take to see results from facilitated communication?
The amount of time it takes to see results from facilitated communication varies depending on the individual and their specific needs. Some individuals may start communicating effectively after just a few sessions, while others may require more intensive support over an extended period.
Is there scientific evidence supporting the use of facilitated communication?
The use of facilitated communication remains controversial, and there is limited scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness as a communication technique for individuals with ASD. While some studies have shown positive outcomes, others have raised concerns about the reliability and consistency of FC as a communication method.
It is important to approach FC with a critical eye. There have been concerns raised about the validity of FC, as some studies have suggested that the facilitator may be unconsciously or consciously influencing communication.
It is important to use FC in conjunction with other forms of communication and to ensure that the individual with ASD is being respected and empowered throughout the communication process.
Despite these concerns, FC can be a valuable tool for individuals with ASD to express themselves and communicate their needs and desires. It is important to approach FC with an open mind and to work with trained professionals who can help ensure that the communication is genuine and respectful.