This article focuses on three factors related to the use of facilitated communication (FC), all of which constitute possible reasons for caution by speech-language pathologists who are considering this technique for individuals with severe communication impairments. First, problems with the theoretical bases of FC are discussed, especially those attributing the success of this method to its ability to target individuals' underlying difficulties with apraxia, word finding, and social-emotional challenges. A case is made that there is insufficient evidence to support claims that FC overrides such problems. The notion of the method unlocking communication and related skills from otherwise competent individuals is also questioned. Next, the subject of candidacy is discussed. Special attention is called to the absence of criteria for initiating, maintaining, modifying, and terminating this approach. Finally, outcomes of the method are summarized. Discrepancies between qualitative and experimental investigations are summarized, along with some possible explanations for these differences. Suggested parameters for evaluating individuals' uses of FC are discussed, along with the continuing need for speech-language pathologists to make informed decisions concerning the role FC will play in their interventions with individuals who exhibit severe communication impairments.
KEY WORDS: facilitated communication, augmentative communication, efficacy, outcomes
Submitted on May 11, 1998
Accepted on June 30, 1999