Hidden communicative competence: case study evidence using eye-tracking and video analysis

Autism. 2012 Jan;16(1):75-86. doi: 10.1177/1362361310393260. Epub 2011 Apr 28.


A facilitated communication (FC) user with an autism spectrum disorder produced sophisticated texts by pointing, with physical support, to letters on a letterboard while their eyes were tracked and while their pointing movements were video recorded. This FC user has virtually no independent means of expression, and is held to have no literacy skills. The resulting data were subjected to a variety of analyses aimed at describing the relationship between the FC user's looking and pointing behaviours, in order to make inferences about the complex question of 'authorship'. The eye-tracking data present a challenge to traditional 'facilitator influence' accounts of authorship, and are consistent with the proposition that this FC user does indeed author the sophisticated texts that are attributed to him; he looks for longer at to-be-typed letters before typing them, and looks ahead to subsequent letters of words before the next letter of the word is typed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Communication*
  • Eye Movement Measurements*
  • Eye Movements
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Video Recording*