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The Topic of Facilitated Communication in Functional Communication: What It is and What It is Not

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The topic for today’s reading was Functional Communication: What It is and What It is Not. The assigned reading, Facilitated Communication—what harm it can do: Confessions of a former facilitator, presented the case story of the Wheaton daughter’s facilitator where she said that twenty years ago, she was the facilitator in the Wheaton case, a story featured on Frontline’s Prisoners of Silence and, later, in a 20/20 episode with Hugh Downs. She admitted to held Betsy Wheaton’s hand and typed out accusations against her family members. These accusations were graphic depictions of rape and sexual assault that had no bearing in reality. No physical evidence of abuse existed, but her words typed through the guise of FC, put in motion events that caused serious damage to many people including Betsy and her brother who were removed from their home to foster care, while her parents were charged. All this irreparable heartache was caused by my unshakeable belief in FC. During all this happened, she wanders how could she not noticed that she was moving the child’s hand for all this time, and realized that she was having conversations with herself. Also she expressed how everyone in the room, including the guardian ad litem, knew that FC was fake and that she was not the child’s facilitator but the one moving her arm. FC is more about the facilitator’s desire to connect with their disabled family member or client than it is about the disabled person’s ability to communicate through FC. On the other hand, the frontline video showed how non-verbal people with normal intelligence were able to have relevant conversations, and how this people treated as non-functional individuals were using keyboards to break the silence between children...


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...sition. This will avoid that cases as the one in the reading, where the facilitator unconsciously type things for the kids, continue to happen whenever programs similar to the facilitated communication are being used.
Finally, I do not believe that the problem per se is on the FC program but in the individuals that they are using to facilitate the communication between the child with autism and the people around them. I am not saying that this people have a twisted mind and that is why they type that their families sexually abused these kids, but that they are human and so can easily attach to the person and make mistakes as the one presented in both reading and video. Because as the facilitator expressed on the reading is the facilitator’s desire to connect with the child what makes them unconsciously stray from the goal of helping the kid to type by themselves.



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