Can’t or won’t?: Evidence relating to authorship in facilitated communication

Emerson, Anne; Grayson, Andrew and Griffiths, Adrienne (2001). Can’t or won’t?: Evidence relating to authorship in facilitated communication. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 36 (Supple pp. 98–103.



Most experimental evaluations of Facilitated Communication (FC) provide no evidence that this technique is valid. Important as they are, controlled test-based studies have characteristically not done justice to the complexity of the issues which surround FC. This paper summarises a long term evaluation project involving various forms of data collection. In this study too, controlled testing has shown very little evidence for the validity of the technique. In contrast, other sources of data, including records of naturally occurring message passing and intensive video analysis have provided evidence that the communication skills of some FC users have been enhanced. An overview of the project is presented, and discussed in relation to the blurring of findings (observations of behaviour) and inferences (judgements of communicative competence) in the extant literature.

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