As the pro-FC movie “The Reason I Jump” (see here for a critique) continues to make its rounds through the film festival circuit and onto Neflix, garnering rave reviews in major newspapers, the men behind the production have been going on the attack against the FC skeptics.
On a blog post from last December, for example, director Jerry Rothwell insinuates that the [many] studies debunking FC suffer from design flaws. He also cites a pro-FC website in support of his claims that “there’s a been a constant stream of research pointing to nonspeaking autistics acquiring advanced language skills.”
In other words, this film director appears to be unaware that none of the rigorous research on autism spectrum disorders supports either
(a) the held-up keyboard (Spelling to Communicate/S2C/Rapid Prompting Method/RPM) variant of FC
(b) the pro-FC re-invention of autism as a motor/oral motor disorder (as opposed to the socio-perceptual-cognitive disorder that the overwhelming majority of the most rigorous research on autism continues to show to be the essence of autism and upon which all the diagnostic screening tests for autism are based).
Nor does the film director even attempt to address the actual arguments about the potential cuing effects of nearby “assistants” holding up keyboards and/or sitting next to the typers as they type—instead suggesting that skeptics simply can’t believe that non-speaking means non-thinking (as if we’ve never heard of Steven Hawking or Deaf people).
Could it be that Rothwell is more interested in promoting his movie than in learning the truths about autism and facilitated communication?
Tellingly, at least two comments on Rothwell’s blog post were recently submitted, but only one of them made it past moderation. Guess which one made it through:
The key point is ‘Naoki doesn’t use Facilitated Communication.’ It is clear from the NHK documentaries, particularly interacting with David Mitchell, that Naoki is spelling out full sentences without current assistance or ‘facilitation’ around content.
So maybe it’s best to keep away from the FC ‘debate’ even if FC incidentally permits more communication through shared attention. One correction I would make to this page is that the eye-tracking study is not in _Nature_ but in _Scientific Reports_, which has a rather poor reputation and publishes practically anything. It may be irrelevant.
Lay people wrongly assume that FC-cuing can only happen through touch. In fact, as the story of Clever Hans tells us, cuing can also occur through gestural/postural cues—a phenomenon that has been replicated in humans. (See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans). Auditory cues—e.g. oral prompts—and board movement (as in with the “Spelling to Communicate” method used with Ben and Emma) also guide messages.
For a repository of rigorous empirical research, including peer-reviewed refutations of many of the key pro-FC United for Communication Choice references you cite here, see: