Why we should not presume competence and reframe facilitated communication

In all the excitement surrounding Twitter suspensions and blog shutdowns and disappearing comments on YouTube and questions about my son’s diagnosis by lay people who’ve never met him, and shadowy cult leaders in France who believe that “English spelling is human thought made visible as text,” I forgot to mention that I have a new publication on facilitated communication in Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention.

Here is the abstract:

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Do motor difficulties really explain speech/language difficulties in autism?

(Cross-posted at FacilitatedCommunicaton.org).

This post is the fifth in a series of critiques of articles co-authored by Morton Gernsbacher. As I noted earlier, these articles collectively attempt to present evidence for the drastic redefinition of autism upon which the plausibility of FC depends: namely, the notion that autism is not (despite eight decades of research to the contrary) a socio-cognitive disorder, but rather a motor disorder. More specifically, autism is, purportedly, a disorder in which intentional motor movements, including speaking and pointing, are difficult or impossible to perform.

Today’s Gernsbacher article, “Infant and toddler oral- and manual-motor skills predict later speech fluency in autism,” relates more directly to the motor take on autism than the articles I have discussed already. 

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Twitter suspensions and their aftermath

Every so often my Twitter suspension comes up on social media, with various detractors of mine voicing different theories about why I was suspended from Twitter. 

  • FC/RPM/S2C proponents seem to think I was suspended for “bullying” remarks and/or “violent threats” against autistic individuals and/or autistic advocates.
  • Structured Word Inquiry proponents prefer to think I was suspended because I called SWI a “cult” run by a shadowy man in France with no formal linguistic credentials.
  • Progressive math proponents may think I was suspended for harassing them and finding fault with “social justice math.”

As for Twitter itself, once it suspends an account, it feeds such sundry impressions by one’s sundry detractors with canned messages about the account’s suspension that are automatically sent to anyone who “reported” the account for any reason.

People, naturally, report Twitter accounts for all sorts of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with Twitter’s rules. Some people, for example, prefer to eliminate their critics rather than debate them.

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Personnel departments and personality discrimination

I could have written this post yesterday–and yet it’s 7 years old.

Where is the Neurodiversity Movement when it’s most needed?


  • Does personality diversity count as part of neurodiversity? 
  • What about viewpoint diversity?
  • What about diversity within autism?
  • When it comes to workplace neurodiversity, should we privilege some forms of neurodiversity over others?

After all, all of the above is ultimately a matter of neurology–as opposed to physiology or, say, metaphysics.

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If you’re facilitated, are you an autistic person or a person with autism?

We’ve been getting lots of comments at FacilitatedCommunication.org recently, as well as the occasional email message. Not all of them are particularly friendly. 

Here is an old post about a message I got a while ago. Even though this comment is not about FC,  and even though FC wasn’t as much on my mind then as it is now, an FC connection still leapt out at me.

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Why facilitated communication and its variants cannot be compared to sign language

I recently posted this comment at FacilitatedCommunication.org in response to a comment on a post from last October about Penn State’s hosting of a pro-FC event. Given all that’s gone on since Penn State hosted this conference (for example, this), and the persistence of certain problematic claims, I think it’s worth posting here, too.

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Revolutionary ideas: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

Ongoing claims that schools need an overhaul because they’re based on 19th century models reminded me of this post from 7 years ago.

At this point, I’d take Alfred North Whitehead’s observation one step further. When over an extended period of time a variety of people with compelling credentials and affiliations proclaim repeatedly in mainstream media outlets that we need a certain type of revolution (whether in education, in priorities, and/or in how we think or act), there’s a good chance that this revolution is long over and that the ideas that support it are old hat.

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Stop belaboring the easy stuff and redirect that time to the hard stuff

Recent claims about how students don’t understand the “equals” sign (and therefore require lessons on the underlying concept of mathematical equality) remind me of yet another old post.

(Perhaps the biggest reason why kids appear not to understand the equals sign is because they’re having trouble making sense of the stuff on either side of it).

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Questioning J’s Autism Diagnosis

I’ve never questioned it; no psychiatric or psychological professional who has ever evaluated J has ever questioned it; no one who has actually met J has ever questioned it.

But a couple of non-autism experts who haven’t met him have questioned J’s autism. They’ve either wondered whether J is at the functioning level I report him at, or (!) whether he’s autistic at all. Surprisingly, these folks are themselves autism parents.

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Some clarifications about message passing research for FC and its variants

 In a recent comment on FacilitatedCommunication.org, I wrote:

Any experienced facilitators who are interested in exploring the possibility of ideomotor effects during facilitation will find researchers eager to work with them. Unfortunately, facilitators since the early 1990s have been instructed “don’t test,” and nearly all are compliant with that maxim.

Could it be that the facilitators and parents of facilitated individuals are no longer interested in/curious about exploring the ideomotor effects in FC?

Of course I’m not saying that there are no facilitators/parents who consider themselves to be interested in exploring the ideomotor effects in FC. Indeed, there are such people out there, though in some cases they have alienated potential research partners so much that those particular researchers have no interest in having anything to do with them. Nonetheless, if such a parent/facilitator really wants to, they can certainly find other research partners whom they haven’t alienated.

As for my interest in such research, I’m game–provided that:

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