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Facilitated Communication and Rapid Prompting Method


Position Statement of the AAIDD Board of Directors


The Board of Directors of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) strongly endorses the right of people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities to self-determination and recognizes that having an independent mode of communication is essential for individual agency (e.g., taking actions, making choices, expressing preferences).

Based on the current scientific evidence, the Board does not support the use of Facilitated Communication (FC)1 or the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM)2 as modes of communication for people with disabilities. In the case of FC, there is no scientific evidence supporting its validity, and there is considerable evidence that the messages are authored by the facilitator rather than by the individual with a disability. In the case of RPM, there is a lack of scientific evidence for its validity, and concerns about message authorship similar to those for FC have been raised.

The Board of Directors concludes that rather than helping people express their thoughts, desires, and choices, FC and RPM have the potential to effectively take away people’s voices. This is due to the risk of facilitator influence/authorship as well as the potential to displace efforts to access scientifically valid communication modes, such as those associated with the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)3.

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1 Facilitated Communication (FC) is a technique that involves a person with a disability pointing to letters, pictures, or objects on a keyboard or on a communication board, typically with physical support from a facilitator. This physical support usually occurs on the hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder (Biklen, Winston Morton, Gold, Berrigan, & Swaminathan, 1992).

2 Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) is a technique that involves a person with a disability pointing to letters from multiple choice options with the aid of sensory “prompts” which are intended to maintain attention on the task and extinguish sensory-motor preoccupations (Chen, Yoder, Ganzel, Goodwin, & Belmonte, 2012). RPM requires an instructor to elicit responses through intensive verbal, auditory, visual and/or tactile prompts to compete with the individual’s self-stimulatory behavior (Learning RPM – Frequent Questions, n.d.).

3 Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a set of tools and strategies used to solve every day communicative challenges (What is ACC?, n.d.). An AAC aid is any device, either electronic or non-electronic, that is used to transmit or receive messages (Beukelman & Mirenda, 2005); aids range from communication boards to speech generating devices (Mirenda, 2003).

References

Beukelman, D. R. & Mirenda, P. (2005). Augmentative & alternative communication: supporting children & adults with complex communication needs (3rd ed.). Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-55766-684-0.

Biklen, D., Winston Morton, M., Gold, D., Berrigan, C., & Swaminathan, S. (1992). Facilitated communication: Implications for individuals with autism. Topics in Language Disorders, 12(4), 1–28. https://journals.lww.com/topicsinlanguagedisorders/Citation/1992/08000/Facilitated_communication__Implications_for.3.aspx

Chen, G.M., Yoder, K. J., Ganzel, B.L., Goodwin, M.S., & Belmonte, M.K. [2012]. Harnessing Repetitive behaviours to engage attention and learning in a novel therapy for autism: An exploratory analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 3(12), https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2012.00012

Learning RPM – Frequent Questions (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.halo-soma.org/learning_faqs.php?sess_id=339292b13bc175620b479fef7564b5b4#UNDERSTANDING_RAPID_PROMPTING_METHOD

Mirenda, P. (2003). Toward functional augmentative and alternative communication for students with autism: manual signs, graphic symbols, and voice output communication aids. Language, Speech, & Hearing Services in Schools. 34 (3): 203–216. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2003/017)

What is ACC? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.isaac-online.org/english/what-is-aac).

Adopted:

Board of Directors, AAIDD 
January 9, 2019

 

Position Statements of
Other Organizations That
Do Not Support the use
of FC or RPM

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
Facilitated Communication
(October 1993, reviewed June 2008, reviewed June 2013)

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Auditory Integration Training and Facilitated Communication for Autism
(August 1998; Reaffirmed December 2009)

American Psychological Association (APA)
Facilitated Communication: Sifting the Psychological Wheat from the Chaff
(2003)

American Speech -Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Position Statement on Facilitated Communication (August 6, 2018)
Position Statement on Rapid Prompting Method (August 6, 2018)

Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)

Statement on Facilitated Communication
(1995)

International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC)
Position Statement on Facilitated Communication
(November 7, 2014)

Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists (IASLT)
Position Statement on the Rapid Prompting Method
(May 2017)

Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC)
Use of Facilitated Communication and Rapid Prompting Method (January 16, 2018)

Position Statements of
Other Organizations That
Do Support the use
of FC or RPM


Autism National Committee (AutCom)

Policy and Principles Regarding Facilitated Communication (2008)