Tuesday, December 15, 2009
December 7, 2009
Dear Mr. Alexander:
On behalf of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (asatonline.org), we are writing to you about your article entitled, "Dark Shadows Loom Over 'Facilitated' Talk" (December 2, 2009). This piece described a gut-wrenching experience faced by parents of an individual with autism who, through facilitated communication, falsely accused her father of sexual abuse.
We want to formally extend our appreciation for this story, which highlighted a tragedy far too many families have experienced. In particular, we want to commend you for including a summary of research conducted by Doug Wheeler, who found that facilitated communication (FC) was not effective.
Readers might have benefited from additional information surrounding the lack of evidence for FC – as well as the established evidence for other interventions. There is no methodologically sound research to support the effectiveness of FC and numerous peer-reviewed scientific analyses have replicated the findings of Wheeler. A number of professional organizations (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics, Association for Behavior Analysis International, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and others) have issued policy statements condemning facilitated communication and have advised against its use. These policy statements were put forth in the mid 1990s and have remained in force.
Moreover, effective interventions to teach communication and language have been established, such as functional communication training, mand training, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), comprehensive behavioral treatment, and others. A summary of alternative intervention techniques for which there actually exists scientific support would have been beneficial to those readers interested in more viable interventions.
Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Media Review Committee, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D
President, Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Read More at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/.../health-mental_health