Watching autism neurologist Margaret Bauman being taken in by Sue Rubin’s facilitated communication in Autism is a World got me thinking about other neurologists who have suffered similar fates. One in particular has long stood out to me: Mike Merzernich. After studying Tito, son of Soma, founder of the Rapid Prompting Method variant of FC, Merzenich has concluded that “Tito is for real,” and “I think there could be thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Titos out there.”
How can people who should know better about the neurology of autism have been so deluded? Doesn’t their own brain research conflict with the underlying assumptions of FC—namely, the assumption that autism is primarily a movement disorder?
Since its release early this month, How Stella Learned to Talk has already garnered more 5-star reviews than another book released last month by the same publisher (William Morrow). That other book would be the pro-FC I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust. Just a few weeks out, Stella has already broken 1000 in its Amazon sales rankings, a milestone that Dust hasn’t come close to.
The autism movie I watched last week was not an FC movie, but it nonetheless raises a red flag that flies in that general direction. The movie, Music, came out a few months ago and features a non-speaking autistic girl—Music—who is played, controversially, by the non-autistic Maddie Ziegler.
SentenceWeaver’s Diagnostic Grammar Test is ready for beta-testing. The text-input version is here:
And the speech-input version, which runs only in Chrome and requires you to enable your microphone, is here:
The point of the test is to detect difficulties in those areas of grammar that come naturally to most native English speakers but can pose challenges to individuals with autism and to non-native English speakers.
Still, it’s possible for native speakers to take this test and make mistakes: as you’ll see if you try it out, all it takes is a lapse in concentration!
Unlike SentenceWeaver’s teaching tool, the diagnostic tool doesn’t give you corrective feedback. However, since it needs to elicit particular words, phrases, or structures in order to assess particular grammar and syntax skills, it will sometimes ask you to reword your answer.
You’re welcome to try it out on yourself on your kids, and you can sign in using whatever name you’d like. Feedback appreciated!