I’ve been gearing up for a promised post examining the various messages generated by Facilitated Communication, but in the meantime a few other FC examples have crossed my path.
Here’s another one involving wrist-supported FC. This facilitated individual graduated from high school with honors and became a student at Tulane University. He is majoring in English with a 3.7 GPA, and his facilitator (his Dad) is described as his “constant companion.”
And here’s a case of FC that has evolved from wrist support to shoulder and back support, combined with word-prediction software that allows the boy to select whole words or copy them letter by letter (two videos):
In all of these videos, we see how the facilitator’s eyes remain glued to the screen while the person purportedly selecting the letters occasionally looks away. In the first video, we see this at the very end, at 3:48, when the boy looks at the camera while continuing to type. In the second video, we see this starting at :45, and, most notably, at the very end, at 10:47. Try this yourself, and chances are your finger will land on the wrong letter.
Also of note: the shoulder and back support into which the second child’s FC has evolved may involve subtle pressure cues that he’s learned to associate with different hand movements–movements that he could execute even while looking away from the keyboard. One way to rule this out–if one wanted a well-designed FC experiment–would be to blindfold the facilitator.
A final concern is the word prediction software that these FC keyboards often deploy. In the last video at 6:42 (which is the only time we get a good look at the word prediction process), the word “hard” pops up as soon as the boy hits the space bar after typing “its”. He is at this point at the very beginning of a sentence that eventually becomes “its hard enough to work out what to say for myself.” This sort of prediction might more aptly be termed sentence-prediction. Easily pre-programmed ahead of time, it tells the user, word for word, exactly what to type–taking facilitated communication to a whole new level.