About this Document
This position statement is an official policy of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). It was developed after select and widespread peer review by ASHA's Speech-Language Pathology Division: Diane Paul-Brown, division director; Louise Zingeser, branch director. Crystal S. Cooper, 1994–1996 vice president for professional practices in speech-language pathology, served as monitoring vice president. The contributions of Stan Dublinske, director, Professional Practices Department, and Kelley Turnbull, departmental assistant, Professional Practices Department, are gratefully acknowledged. The Legislative Council adopted this statement in November 1994 (LC 51-94). For additional information, please refer to the technical report on facilitated communication (Facilitated Communication Subcommittee of the Ad Hoc Committee on Auditory Integration Training and Facilitated Communication, 1994, October).
Facilitated communication is a technique by which a “facilitator” provides physical and other supports in an attempt to assist a person with a significant communication disability to point to pictures, objects, printed letters and words, or to a keyboard. Personal accounts and qualitative descriptions suggest that messages produced using this technique may reveal previously undetected literacy and communication skills in people with autism, and other disabilities. When information available to facilitators is controlled and objective evaluation methods are used, peer-reviewed studies and clinical assessments find no conclusive evidence that facilitated messages can be reliably attributed to people with disabilities. Rather, most messages originate with the facilitator. Moreover, facilitated communication may have negative consequences if it precludes the use of effective and appropriate treatment, supplants other forms of communication, and/or leads to false or unsubstantiated allegations of abuse or mistreatment.
It is the position of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that the scientific validity and reliability of facilitated communication have not been demonstrated to date. Information obtained through or based on facilitated communication should not form the sole basis for making any diagnostic or treatment decisions.
ASHA strongly supports continued research and clinical efforts to develop scientifically valid methods for developing or enhancing the independent communication and literacy skills of people with disabilities.
Speech-language pathologists are autonomous professionals who are responsible for critically evaluating all treatment techniques in order to hold paramount the welfare of persons served in accordance with the ASHA Code of Ethics. Speech-language pathologists should inform prospective clients and their families or guardians that currently the scientific validity and reliability of facilitated communication have not been established, and should obtain their informed consent before using the technique.
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Index terms: facilitated communication
Reference this material as: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1995). Facilitated communication [Position Statement]. Available from www.asha.org/policy.
© Copyright 1995 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. All rights reserved.
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