Facilitated Communication

Peyton types to talk. The strategy Peyton uses to communicate, called Facilitated Communication, involves a trained support person offering a combination of physical (at Peyton’s hand, wrist, or arm) and emotional support so that Peyton can point dependably, typing with one finger on a keyboard. This technique has been used successfully since the 1970s with many people who have difficulties with verbal speech and intentional pointing. Though skeptics have criticized the influence of the support person on the typist, the validity of supported typing has been confirmed by a number of people who have achieved the goal of typing independent of physical support and by respected research studies. The technique is endorsed by organizations such as the the Institute on Communication and Inclusion at Syracuse University, the Autism National Committee, and the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps. Peyton has demonstrated on a personal level that it is a successful mode of expression for her. While it is beyond the scope of this brief section to reproduce all the research that has shown FC to be an effective outlet for the user, we offer at least a few resources that treat the method more broadly and in greater depth.


Institute on Communication and Inclusion at Syracuse University.

Anne McDonald Center in Victoria, Australia

Wretches and Jabberers a 2010 film by Gerardine Wurzberg featuring Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette

Recommended Books

Contested Words, Contested Science Contested Words, Contested Science: Unraveling the Facilitated Communication Controversy by Douglas Biklen and Donald Cardinal
Reasonable People Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption by Ralph James Savarese
Speechless Speechless: Facilitating Communication for People Without Voices by Rosemary Crossley
Movement Differences and Diversity Movement Differences and Diversity in Autism/Mental Retardation by Anne M. Donnellan and Martha R. Leary

Recommended Articles

“Rethinking Autism: Implications of Sensory and Movement Differences”
by Anne M. Donnellan, David A. Hill, and Martha R. Leary. Disability Studies Quarterly Vol. 30, No. 1 (2010).
“Sorting out Speech: Understanding Multiple Methods of Communication for Persons with Autism and Other Development Disabilities”
by Christi Kasa-Hendrickson, Alicia A. Broderick, and Darlene Hanson. Disability Studies Quarterly Vol. 30, No. 1 (2010).
“‘Say Just One Word at First’: The Emergence of Reliable Speech in a Student Labeled With Autism”
by Alicia A. Broderick and Christi Kasa-Hendrickson. JASH Vol. 26, No. 1 (2001).