I believe facilitated communication helps put the person typing on track. It provides comfort as a type of entrainment occurs. As the facilitator - agent, I serve as a catalyst for untrained thought to organize itself for conscious expression. Adhering to the energy of another, I suppose helps the person typing calm down his own chaotic flow and express it in the context of my language system.
As the facilitator/agent, I open the channel for this to occur by joining energy with the person typing. In doing so, I suspect a union occurs at a subconscious level. Love, trust and expectation of competence appears to aid the connection.
I feel facilitated communication accesses consciousness and deepens the relationship of the parties involved. FC creates a sense of balance as partners move in tandem and establish a rhythm. Disengaged channels are suddenly all on the same wave length; submerged in free flowing thoughts. As a facilitator/agent, Facilitated communication has expanded my parameters of consciousness.
Supporters of FC contend the nonverbal person may have been gleaning information from his environment even if he has not been formally taught literacy skills. The Detractors believe the facilitator may be leading the person typing without even knowing it. I postulate that the autistic person typing have been gleaning information from the knowledge base of others, the subconscious mind, and universal field of thought.
My experience has been this: that facilitator influence can and does occur. The children are so sensitive to my thoughts that their messages can be distorted by my tendency to project and anticipate. If I remain blank, it is nearly impossible for me to keep the flow of communication going. It is even more difficult if the person typing is hitting the keys independently while I am holding the device than if physical support is provided.
The individuals with autism that I have worked with are very open and receptive. If I am providing physical support, or just holding the communication device without any support of the hand typing, my mental prompts are easily picked up.
I hope that allowing them to ride my thought patterns is a component of the process; yet, I am frustrated that the relationship between the autistic person typing and the facilitator/agent has not been studied. Researching the basic principles and limitations of the process is necessary to determine what is valid. People with severe autism will remain an enigma if we continue to define their experience in the context of our perceptual reality.
A phenomena is occurring; however, I feel the wrong questions have been asked. Concerns have revolved around ‘who’ the information is emanating from, rather than the ‘relationship’ that is occurring that allows for the information to be transcribed. How does this relationship occur? What are we to learn from it? Does it help the person with severe autism understand our language system? Does it help us understand their system of direct knowing?
Having been involved in the process is a gift that comes with responsibility. I am not a scientist or researcher. My responsibility is to tell the truth of my experience, and to serve as a subject and a navigator for those interested in further study. Please let me know if I can be of service.
I have served as a teacher of individuals with autism for 18 years. What they have taught me was to be sure of nothing and open myself to the extraordinary. As FC controversy rages on, many students have been denied this intervention due to lack of understanding of all the variables. It is time for the secrecy to stop!
Mary Ann Harrington