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Facilitated communication and authorship: a systematic review
journal contributionposted on 2014-12-01, 00:00 authored by R W Schlosser, Susan BalandinSusan Balandin, B Hemsley, T Iacono, P Probst, S von Tetzchner
Facilitated Communication (FC) is a technique whereby individuals with disabilities and communication impairments allegedly select letters by typing on a keyboard while receiving physical support, emotional encouragement, and other communication supports from facilitators. The validity of FC stands or falls on the question of who is authoring the typed messages--the individual with a disability or the facilitator. The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) formed an Ad Hoc Committee on FC and charged this committee to synthesize the evidence base related to this question in order to develop a position statement. The purpose of this paper is to report this synthesis of the extant peer-reviewed literature on the question of authorship in FC. A multi-faceted search was conducted including electronic database searches, ancestry searches, and contacting selected authors. The authors considered synopses of systematic reviews, and systematic reviews, which were supplemented with individual studies not included in any prior reviews. Additionally, documents submitted by the membership were screened for inclusion. The evidence was classified into articles that provided (a) quantitative experimental data related to the authorship of messages, (b) quantitative descriptive data on the output generated through FC without testing of authorship, (c) qualitative descriptive data on the output generated via FC without testing of authorship, and (d) anecdotal reports in which writers shared their perspectives on FC. Only documents with quantitative experimental data were analyzed for authorship. Results indicated unequivocal evidence for facilitator control: messages generated through FC are authored by the facilitators rather than the individuals with disabilities. Hence, FC is a technique that has no validity.