3/19/2012

Mustering an Argument

Facilitated communication proponents (and by this I mean the people who actually peddle it and themselves as facilitators) can be sneaky--Biklen has made sure the talking points they use are well-laid out, that it's couched in rhetoric about inclusion, and that he and his facilitators come off as near-saints who believe that competency should be presumed rather than taught.

Competency is easy--if they can get parents and educators (who should know better) to assume that all nonverbal individuals understand the complexities of a particular language, then no learning curve is necessary--and competency presumed is competency demonstrated. It fits in with parents' most intense desires.

So facilitators will go to great lengths to play out "yes, but" exchanges (see comments). When the quality of one's argument is "yes, but did you watch the video?," there's nothing to discuss. Evidence hasn't been offered, at least not of the validity of what's on the video.

Yes, but...
"...it's only the shoulder being touched."
     An established relationship with a facilitator allows subtle cuing via the arm or shoulder, with the result being the letters being typed that the facilitator wants.

"...she's only holding the keyboard."
   And shifting the keyboard, providing cues as to what key to press.

"she's only sitting beside the typist."
   And moving her hands, fingers, or some other body movement to indicate the key.

We cue our students (as teachers) with our tone of voice, our eye gaze, our body movements. We do the same with our children, our pets (and even our spouses).

"Yes, but autistics can't read body language."
    Not true. Autistics, like anyone familiar with another person, can read subtle cues that strangers might not catch.

So if a facilitator wants to argue the merits of FC, "yes, but did you watch the video" is not an argument with any evidence that FC works and is independent communication.

4 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

"They can't read body language".

Oh, yeah.... then how come my mostly non-verbal kid can tell when I'm both upset and happy??

Then there's the current new infatuation with bad words... yes, I know he's 10 but developmentally in a lot of ways he's about 6... about the age where those words get the negative parental response and the laughter from one's peers.

Then there's the fact that the last couple of days he's stayed in long clothes but this morning, like his bro, he came down in shorts and t-shirt (WAY too hot for Mar here)... Asked him why "Gregory go school shorts".

"Don't read body language".... yeah... right.

Ren said...

I have to agree. That whole "autistics can't read body language" seems bogus even without any evidence. I've seen plenty of kids of all ages and ranges on the spectrum "read" others well. I think it's "encoded" in the very primal parts of the brain, if I remember neurobiology well.

K Wombles said...

And yet, the myth that autistic individuals can't read body language continues to thrive, sort of like that lack of empathy myth. It's entrenched within the social impairment component, and while it is true that there is difficulty in decoding some visual and verbal cues or picking up on sarcasm, for example, in general, making blanket statements regarding autistic individuals' abilities to decode nonverbal communication is as likely to be wrong as it is to be right. Context and situation matter.

Yet, FC proponents would argue that it is the inability of an autistic to get body language that would make the facilitator cuing them through a touch on the shoulder impossible.

farmwifetwo said...

Russ tripped getting onto the bus this morning so I called the teacher so she could check him over when he got there. He was determined he was going and wasn't interested in Mothering but he was upset.

She and I were laughing at the "autistic children aren't suppose to do that...." In his case the "bad words". He's also learning to lie - or in his case advoid answering. He sneaks better than the best cat burglar out there. If he hears you he quickly closes out the computer so you can't see what You Tube video he was playing - he's not allowed on You Tube.

All these very "normal" child reponses from a child that people quickly realize when we are out in public isn't very "normal" at all.

Just b/c you only speak to those in your caregiver sphere (see new def'n DSMV), and appear to ignore the rest of the world... Doesn't mean you didn't pay attention.