Facilitated Communication and Rapid Prompting Method: CEB Position

On August 6, 2018, the ASHA Board of Directors approved two new position statements: one on Facilitated Communication (FC) and another on the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM).

Why is ASHA taking a position on particular treatment techniques?

ASHA typically does not take positions on specific products, procedures, or programs. In rare cases, ASHA will take a position when there is a preponderance of evidence demonstrating the lack of validity of a particular technique. ASHA took a similar position in 1995 on Facilitated Communication. 

It is not unusual for a professional association to evolve its policy positions, based on the ever-changing landscape of scientific research and evidence/discovery. This movement away from FC and RPM represents the latest in evidence-based practice.

What are ASHA's two new position statements?

  • ASHA's position is that Facilitated Communication (FC) should not be used because there is no scientific evidence of its validity, and extensive evidence that the "facilitator" is authoring messages. Furthermore, there is extensive evidence of harms related to the use of FC.
  • ASHA's position is that Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) is not recommended because of prompt dependency, and the lack of scientific validity. RPM is another facilitator–dependent technique with many similarities to FC.

What are the differences between the proposed statements?

  • The new FC statement says that FC is a discredited technique that should not be used. There is extensive scientific evidence that messages produced using FC reflect the communication of the "facilitator" and not of the person with a disability.

  • The new RPM statement says that RPM is not recommended. There are no scientific studies supporting the use of RPM (i.e., no studies showing it is valid and no studies demonstrating authorship of messages). RPM is similar to FC, a technique that has been discredited and is harmful. Both techniques are dependent on "facilitators." Because of the lack of evidence againstRPM, the position on RPM has different wording than the position on FC.

In light of the ASHA position statements on Facilitated Communication (FC) and the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), the ASHA Continuing Education Board (CEB) is advising all ASHA Approved CE Providers against offering courses that promote, encourage, or demonstrate how to practice FC or RPM, and similar practices such as Spelling to Communicate—techniques where "facilitators" ostensibly elicit communication from individuals. ASHA Continuing Education (CE) will not accept, register, or grant ASHA CEUs for courses that promote, encourage, or demonstrate how to practice FC or RPM.  If you have FC or RPM sessions within a larger course program, such as a convention, you should review the focus and intent of those sessions and not count sessions as eligible for ASHA CEUs that promote, encourage or demonstrate how to practice these techniques, and should notify attendees that ASHA CEUs will not be offered for those sessions. Courses that report on research findings in FC or RPM may be eligible for ASHA CEUs; however, please talk to your Provider Manager about those courses or sessions prior to advertising them for ASHA CEUs.

If you have courses addressing FC, RPM, and/or similar practices that have been registered for ASHA CEUs, please contact your ASHA CE Provider Manager this week to clarify the status of these courses, and they will advise you on how to proceed.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and ask that you share this information with individuals who work with you to plan and implement courses through your ASHA Approved CE Providership. Please contact Jo Ann Linseisen, Director of ASHA Continuing Education, by e-mailing her at jlinseisen@asha.org or calling her at 301-296-5744 if you have any questions.     

Facilitated Communication and Rapid Prompting Method Statements

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