Facilitated Communication: Fact or Fiction? (Part Five)

August 3, 2017 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Finding facts
We may want something to be true with every fiber of our beings. What what are the facts?

Thanks for joining us for the wrap up on this highly controversial subject – facilitated communication. If you’ve only stumbled across this series now, we recommend that you take a few minutes to catch up. If you’ve been with us from the start, let’s pick up where we left off…

In 2006, flying in the face of countless tests that have proved it to be little more than a pseudoscience at best, Times Magazine published an article that lauded facilitated communication as a breakthrough, and claimed that it gave parents around the world an opportunity to communicate with their non-verbal children – an opportunity most of them believed they would never have. Wonderful, yes? Not so much.

That same year, Dr. Lawrence Norton, a school psychologist and adjunct instructor of psychology for the University of Alaska, reviewed that same article. However, Norton’s take on the subject was different. He points to the substantial testing that has proven it to be a hoax, and warns against believing something simply because you want it to be true.

“What were the costs of uncritically accepting these facilitated messages?” Norton asks in his review, “False accusations of sexual abuse were made, parents were investigated for child sexual abuse (some were even jailed), children were placed in long term foster care, families were torn apart, millions of public school dollars were spent to hire and train facilitators, and years of schooling were wasted as autistic children sat in advanced classes rather than learning the life skills they would need.”

And he is not alone in refuting this. Both the Autism National Committee (AutCom) and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) have spoken out against facilitated communication, saying that it is based on “flawed studies that are poorly designed and/or whose results are incorrectly extrapolated to the entire population of FC users.”

Joining them are the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Psychological Association (APA), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; AAIDD) and even the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan (BAAM). Unsurprisingly, this is not even the complete list of reputable institutions who have openly stated that the use of facilitated communication is unethical and unacceptable..

So why? In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, why do people all over the world persist in using a technique that has been proven time and again to be almost entirely without merit. The answer is hope.

Even if the chance is minuscule, each person believes that their case is different…

For the same reason that children believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, it is extremely difficult to walk away from something that offers us hope. Something that offers us something we can’t have through any other medium. In this case: communication with non-verbal persons.

For parents the world over, the opportunity to communicate with their non-verbal children is just too great a prize to give up. Even if the method by which they achieve this is a parody of freedom that strips their child of their last vestiges of autonomy. So what needs to be addressed now is the issue of accountability.

Why is there no accountability for the facilitators who make these perjurious claims that cause so much damage and cost so much money? Why do supposed accounts of abuse made by facilitated communication users count as evidence in court, when facilitated communication is not considered to be an acceptable method of communication for a courtroom. And why is a single unsubstantiated accusation taken as fact, when there is no other actual substantiated evidence available to corroborate it?

Surely any continued use of facilitated communication as evidence of crimes committed in court simply acts to discredit other valid scientific practices, and threatens the integrity of the entire judicial process.

As experienced child abuse and neglect defense attorneys, we understand the lengths that CPS and prosecutors will go to in order to secure a charge. We know how readily charges can be brought and accusations made, even when there is no evidence to back up these claims. We also know how devastating the process can be for parents and caregivers. So if you or a loved one have been falsely accused of abusing a child, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 immediately. WE are here to help you protect your family, and your future.