Deconstructing an interview with Vikram Jaswal

(Cross posted at

In this week’s post I focus on an interview published two weeks ago by Shannon Rosa, of the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, with Vikram Jaswal, a University of Virginia psychology professor. In the world of facilitated communication (FC), Jaswal is best known for two things: (1) his collaboration with Elizabeth Vosseller, credited with inventing of a variant of FC called “Spelling to Communicate” (S2C, akin to the Rapid Prompting Method, aka RPM), and (2) his publication in Scientific Reports of a study that used eye-tracking equipment to detect evidence that purportedly showed that S2C is a legitimate means of communication. (A critique of that study is here).

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Chance is a great equalizer, but sometimes there are better options

With a wave of its regulatory wand, the Philadelphia School District, as per an article in this week’s Philadelphia Inquirer, has drastically increased the percentages of underrepresented minorities who qualify for Philadelphia’s “selective admissions” high schools. Here’s what’s changed:

(1) Students from six zip codes that were traditionally underrepresented have been “given preference” at five of the top high schools.

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Deep Thoughts via facilitated communication vs. moderate autism

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years examining messages that have been extracted via facilitated communication from minimally-speaking individuals with autism, who are generally diagnosed as severely autistic.

Here’s an example from a recent study (critiqued here) involving minimally-speaking individuals. (These individuals are also called “unreliably speaking”, as their spoken language is often at odds with what they type via FC, as we see here). 

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Standing silently by while the trolls take over

The recent takeover by pseudoscience believers of certain discussions on a Facebook group devoted to evidence-based practices reminded me of something I just re-posted (also with this commentary) at Out in Left Field. To the various phenomena I discussed in that old post, I would add the tendency of people to stay out of nasty discussions, even when, or especially when, it means not standing up for people on your side who are making evidence-based arguments

Here’s the thing:

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Facilitating communication with Microsoft Word

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Microsoft Word lately, and I’m finding that Word has become increasingly confident about its sentence-revision skills. With growing alacrity, it inserts blue squiggles under ever more words and phrases. Yesterday I decided to see what would happen if, instead of clicking “Ignore”, I selected the suggested edit. Below are are some screenshots (most of these are from a chapter I’ve just finished up called “The challenge of minimally-speaking autism: Facilitated communication vs. evidence-based assistance”):

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It took my autistic son a split second to come up with this word. He was engaging in one of his favorite pastimes: hypothesizing about mischief.

(Thank goodness for hypothetical constructions like “if.. then” and “what if…”, and for his ability to learn them: once he did, some 15 years ago, he had a way explore mischief without actually engaging in it, and life got better for all of us).

Anyway, on this particular occasion he was hypothesizing about what would happen if he were to…

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Recovering Out In Left Field

About year and a half ago so a strange mishap occurred on my old blog, Out in Left Field. All the posts were erased!

To this day, the culprit remains unknown to me. And I’m also not sure when the erasure occurred, as I had moved over to this blog with Catherine back at the start of 2017.

I was able to find backups of some of my posts on various computers and on, but the earliest posts, which dated back to a laptop that crashed long ago, seemed lost forever.

Until today, that is. 

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