Multiple method validation study of facilitated communication: II. Individual differences and subgroup results

J Autism Dev Disord. 1996 Feb;26(1):19-42. doi: 10.1007/BF02276233.


Potential individual variations in the effectiveness of a shared communication method, facilitated communication (FC), were examined among 20 students with autism and related disorders. To minimize the limits or disadvantages of a single method, we used multiple methods, including auditory or visual input, and simple pointing responses to pictures or words, as well as typing. Data were collected after 6 weeks of FC, and follow-up data up to 7 months later. Findings differed across methods, but there was little clear support for the validity of FC in enhancing communication over communication that students produced independently. Significant facilitator influence of responses was found, but was far less extensive than in other studies. However, an "abdication" pattern of responding was found for some students, in which high performance observed with independent responding was lessened on trials when FC was introduced. That is, these students may become more passive communicators when FC is used. The complex detected and undetected influences in the process of communication through facilitation are discussed, as well as risk factors in the use of FC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / complications
  • Child
  • Communication Disorders / complications
  • Communication Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Speech Therapy*
  • Vocabulary