Saturday, January 7, 2012

ABC's 20/20 Looks at Facilitated Communication and the Wendrow Case

In the autism community, there are plenty of heated opinions, which lead to even more heated attacks against those who believe differently. Some of the fiercest attacks come from those who believe in debunked treatments like facilitated communication. No other treatment offers such fantastic results. Autistic individuals who've been unable to talk, write, communicate are suddenly able to speak eloquently with the help of a facilitator. 
For a desperate parent, it must be a dream come true--one's child communicating finally, the words flowing. All those hopes and dreams suddenly realized, parents are not likely to be skeptical of this sudden flowering of skills.

For nearly two years, I've been writing about facilitated communication and trying to convey the research and prevent parents new to the autism world from falling for it or its kissing cousin, rapid prompting method.

ABC's 20/20 just ran an entire episode on the tragic Wendrow case, which I, along with James Todd, have written about this past year. This is a must see episode. Seeing this family and listening to their story is far more compelling than dry words on a screen.

For other pieces on the Wendrow case and facilitated communication, please click these links:

Holding Educators Accountable For Evidence-Based Practices: Facilitated Communication Isn't One 

Facilitated Communication: A Price Too High To Pay 

Skepticism Of Stories To Good To Be True 

Facilitated Communication: Bandwagon Endorsements; It All Feels Good 

Why Rapid Prompting Method Still Doesn’t Pass the Evidence-Based Test 

Facilitated Communication: A Literature Review 

Navigating The Autism World: Facilitated Communication Is Still Pseudoscience 

Facilitated Communication Quackery Gets Journalistic Promotion In Annapolis 


Caroline said...

As the mother of a daughter with severe autism, viewing the segment last night stirred up feelings of both anger and pity- anger towards the parents, educators, police and prosecutor, and pity for the daughter and son.
The parents absolutely should be held partly accountable for whtat happened to them and their children. FC has been discredited for well over a decade, yet these well-educated people drank the Kool Aid anyway. Having a child with an incurable developmental disorder does not excuse embracing pseudoscience. The only good things that came out of this travesty were the financial settlement from the police (hopefully it went into a special needs trust for the children) and the fact that it will serve as a warning to dissuade parents from considering FC in the future.

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