Last Friday my erstwhile school district “facilitated an emergency meeting” to accept the resignation of its Director of Technology.
So what does a group of highly verbal people who identify as autistic have to do with facilitated communication—and why, as I suggested in an earlier post, do they support it?
The group of highly verbal people I have in mind identify not only as autistic, but also as members of a movement called “Neurodiversity.”
While this movement proclaims to be primarily about advocating for full acceptance of the gamut of neurological differences that constitute humanity, it has, over the years, narrowed down to a much more rigid ethos—an ethos that I’ve learned a fair amount about in a half-year of sometimes heated interactions on Twitter.
To appreciate why today’s hardcore neo-Neurodiversity advocates support facilitated communication, we need to begin by deconstructing this ethos. Here are its central claims:
In my last post, I mentioned several constituencies that have kept Facilitated Communication, for all its definitive debunkings, alive and well: hopeful parents, duped therapists, and well-intentioned philanthropists enriching unscrupulous institutes and their various gurus. I then ended with a teaser about a fourth constituency that has helped enable what is actually a major FC comeback: highly verbal adults who identify as autistic. But before I address their dogs in this fight, I need to showcase one more player that, until emailing with psychology professor James Todd, I’d kind of forgotten about: namely, academia.
This is annoying.
The template we’re using doesn’t show up on Chrome.
Our blog posts are supposed to be framed by a sea-foam color.
Firefox and Safari both show a sea-foam frame.
Plus we now have a logo (designed by Katie’s artist daughter !) for the express purpose of posting stuff to Twitter & FB . . . and the logo doesn’t show up on Twitter & FB.
I foresee hours of instruction-reading and code-wrangling in the days to come.
John Bogle on learning to write in high school:
“My love for Blair [Academy] is pretty close to eternal,” Bogle told students during a visit in spring 2018. “It was at Blair Academy that I learned to use the English language and how to write. My teachers spent so much time with me, mostly with a red pen. But I got better and better under their tutelage. The result is that my writing ability, among other things, enabled me to go to Princeton and start Vanguard and watch it grow into a colossus.”
Carolyn J., a mathematician who co-created the first Kitchen Table Math with me (currently offline awaiting a new URL address) told me a story about leaving academia with her husband, also a mathematician, and trying to find work in the private sector.
The transition wasn’t easy. Only colleges and universities pay you to do pure research in mathematics.
The company that eventually hired Caroline did so because she told the interviewer that she liked to write. That was true. She did like to write, and she was good at it.
After she was hired, the company hired her husband as well. Two new careers because one person knew how to write and liked doing it.
Being able to write is value-add.
Turns out Andrew and I haven’t been following directions. (See: Syntax is not so easy.)
I wasn’t actually aware there were directions, but now that I know I still haven’t read and/or watched them.
This goes to one of the requirements of teaching apps–of any app–which is that people don’t RTFM.
If you need a beta tester to help with that, I’m your person.
This reminds me of a friend of mine whose husband was a composer with, she later suspected, the same learning issues their son had.
She once told me that his studio work was a marvel of intuitive button pushing.
Continuing from where we left off, Facilitated Communication’s lack of credibility is multi-faceted.
As we saw in my last post, the messages that FC typically generates are highly suspect. With their often perfect spelling, sophisticated vocabulary, figurative phrasing, bland messages, and stilted tone, they don’t sound like they’re coming from the young kids and teenagers being “facilitated”–especially as these particular individuals seem to lack the Joint Attention behaviors necessary for picking up even the most basic vocabulary.