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Why isn't Facilitated Communication going viral??? Q & A

January 24, 2015

The other day, this question was posted in a forum dedicated to parents and professionals using FC or RPM as a communication strategy with individuals who have autism and who are limited/non-verbal:


Q: Why is RPM not going viral? I don't get it..... All the beautiful souls being able to express themselves, all the opportunities for Autism research.... Does anyone have the answer?


A: Below is my response and my story: 


From a professional perspective, I felt the same way! When I first saw my non-verbal students successfully communicating through FC, I could not believe this wasn’t being talked about/ implemented everywhere. There are millions of individuals who are thinking and capable of communication, if given the proper training, support, and opportunity…so why was so little being done about it??


At the time, I was the director of education for a school for students with autism and in the ‘dissertation phase’ of my Ph.D. program.  I felt so passionate about the topic, I was determined to make FC the focus of my dissertation (after pursuing another topic for the past 6 months).   I felt that high quality research needed to be done for the topic to become widely accepted and I felt both motivated and well equipped to design a successful (valid and reliable) study that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the communication strategy.  I pursued the topic for 1 full year, read as many books as I could and countless research articles on the topic.  I drafted a 62-page literature review, consulted with professors at Syracuse University, and submitted 7 strong FC related proposals to my dissertation committee.  Unfortunately, the topic was too controversial for my university and, after a year of intense research on FC, it became clear that if I wanted to finish my Ph.D. program, I had to switch the topic of my dissertation all together. 


I was devastated, but vowed I would pursue the topic further, once I had the degree and credentials.  Presently (nearly 3 years later), I have the degree to pursue the topic further, but funding a high quality study, validating the communication strategy is a current roadblock… However if the funding existed to create and execute a well designed study, providing sound evidence that FC and RPM are valid, research-based strategies, funding and acceptance would likely follow…leading to greater access of these strategies to more individuals whose lives would forever be changed if given access to their right to communicate.