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Shameful Behavior Award Presented to “Facilitated Communications”

01 May

Parents of autistic or similarly impaired children are sometimes led to believe that communications with their child are possible with the aid of a skilled intermediary. Typically the intermediary claims that they can communicate with the child through a process termed “facilitated communications,” wherein the intermediary “interprets” the child’s  communications efforts by supporting the child’s hand or arm over a keyboard while the child is supposedly typing.

There is zero scientific evidence to support such claims. Nonetheless, and outrageously, charges have been brought against parents based on the notion that “facilitated communications” is scientifically sound.

In 2008, Julian and Thal Wendrow were jailed for allegedly sexually abusing their mute, autistic daughter, based on testimony from a facilitated communications expert. Their children were subsequently placed in foster care for months.

We present our Shameful Behavior award to this “expert” (unfortunately we do not have the person’s name), as well as Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca and assistants Deborah Carley and Andrea Dean, for failing to take the time to scientifically evaluate the fraudulent claims.

Eventually, prosecutors admitted the child was not able to communicate via typing or otherwise, and the charges were dropped. (See details here and here.)

Such abuses of prosecutorial power would not occur if our public officials were trained in ET, or would at least consult with those of us who are trained to think rationally and skeptically. It is the height of arrogance and shameful behavior for public officials who have the power to take away our liberty to do any less.

-Ed Walker

 

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