Monday, November 21, 2005

Facilitated Communication

What ever happened to Facilitated Communication, the prophecies and divine revelations that autistic people could supposedly reveal and that had approbations of highly respected Torah scholars? It used to be all the rage but I don't hear about it anymore.

See here for a review from Yated Neeman on the subject.

A little Googling got me to a statement from the American Psychological Association:

Peer reviewed, scientifically based studies have found that the typed language output (represented through computers, letter boards, etc.) attributed to the clients was directed or systematically determined by the paraprofessional/professional therapists who provided facilitated assistance... Furthermore, it has not been scientifically demonstrated that the therapists are aware of their controlling influence.

Facilitated communication is a process by which a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a communicatively impaired individual while using a keyboard or typing device. It has been claimed that this process enables persons with autism or mental retardation to communicate. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that facilitated communication is not a scientifically valid technique for individuals with autism or mental retardation. In particular, information obtained via facilitated communication should not be used to confirm or deny allegations of abuse or to make diagnostic or treatment decisions.
Have there been any retractions from the Gedolim who supported Facilitated Communication? I think Rav Shteinman and R. Elya Weintraub publicly supported it. Am I mistaken on this? It's been quite a few years so I don't remember exactly. If they still support Facilitated Communication, why am I not hearing about this anymore? Am I just out of touch?

UPDATE: A reader directed me to this article by Dr. Avraham Steinberg. Of particular interest is his interaction with R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach on this subject. A Gadol who asks a scientist to conduct tests to verify a claim. Gevalt! Oy meh hayah lanu!

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