when a communicator is independently accessing the word board, picture board, or keyboard is the communication considered under the authorship of that individual. Because FC involves continued support, within the AAC paradigm FC is considered to be a teaching strategy and motor access mode that is intended to be faded. The essential issue in FC authorship is whether the communication is under the authorship of the child with autism, the facilitator, or the communicator, or is it a collaboration (see Calculator et al., 1995; Shane, 1994).

There are over 50 research studies of FC with 143 communicators. Based on these research studies, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1994) has stated that there is a lack of scientific evidence validating FC skills and a preponderance of evidence of facilitator influence on messages attributed to communicators (ASHA Technical Report, 1994). Thus, there is now a large body of research indicating that FC does not have scientific validity. Therefore, any significant message communicated by a child through FC should be validated through qualitative and experimental analysis.

While quantitative studies reveal no validation for FC, there are several qualitative studies indicating that some children with autism have developed independent communication skills through training in FC. Beukelman and Mirenda (1998) state that there are a small number of individuals with autism around the world who were communicating through FC and are now independent typists. In these cases, it is quite clear that they are the authors of their messages.

The lack of validation of FC with most individuals with autism and the growing body of research supporting the use of AAC with children with autism suggest that FC should only be considered in relation to broader AAC practices by a team that evaluates a child’s progress in achieving independence in communication. The goal of any AAC system for children with autism is independent functional communication without physical support from a communication partner. The development of keyboarding skills, not simply for literacy learning, but for communicative output, is providing considerable promise in the field of autism. Past research that invalidates FC should not preempt research and practice in keyboarding, literacy learning, and AAC as a communication modality for children with autistic spectrum disorders. However, it draws attention to the need for continued evaluation of independence and functional value in using new techniques.

Assistive Technology, Literacy, and Communication

In AAC/AT and autism research, a link is emerging between literacy learning and functional communication, due to the visual nature of reading and writing and the strong visual-spatial strengths characteristic of



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement