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Facilitated Communication Controversy

By:Mary Ann Harrington
Date: Thu,27 Aug 2009
Submitter:Mary Ann Harrington

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Most people who have closely followed autism over the past twenty years are aware of the facilitation communication controversy. Many however, are not aware that non verbal individuals, who hit the keys independently, but need a partner in close proximity are subject to the same type of influences.

Facilitated communication is a practice where a nonverbal individual, unable to type on his own, is given hand or arm support as he types on a letter board or keyboard. The person giving the support is known as a facilitator. Most supporters of the process contend that physical support provides assistance with movement difficulties and that it may also afford emotional support. They usually claim the information is coming entirely from the person typing. Supporters often say the nonverbal person has been gleaning information from his environment even if he has not been formally taught literacy skills. The Detractors believe that the facilitator is leading the typist, possibly subconsciously.

Many of the students I have worked with easily make the transition form arm or wrist support to hitting the keys on their own, provided I am holding the communication device, have some physical contact, and/or remain in close proximity. Whether I provide arm support or not, 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 seems even more difficult if the person typing is hitting the keys independently while I am holding the device, than if physical support is provided.

It has been awe inspiring to partner with these incredible souls. However, to not mention a type of “telepathy” as a possible explanation for the phenomena is unethical and most certainly dangerous.

I am frustrated that the relationship between the person typing and the facilitator has not been studied. Researching the basic principles and limitations of the process is necessary to determine what is valid. We need to stop defining the experience of individuals with severe sensory differences in the context of our perceptual reality.

A magnificent phenomenon 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? Does forming a sympathetic resonance with the facilitator help the person typing calm down his own chaotic flow? Are brainwaves of both parties entrained to the same frequency? Does this synchronization serve as a catalyst for free flowing thought to organize itself for conscious expression? Does this relationship assist in accessing information from the subconscious, the knowledge base of others, and the universal field of thought? Is true independence possible or will some level of partnership remain necessary?

I do believe facilitated communication has many benefits or I would not use it. Most important, the person typing appears to enjoy it. Whether I provide physical support, hold the communication device, or just stay in close proximity to the person who is typing, my students have lead me to believe that it relaxes them. Unconditional love, trust, and expectation of competence may open the channel for this seemingly subconscious blending. A sense balance seems to be created as we move in tandem and establish a rhythm. It is as if disengaged channels are suddenly all on the same wavelength; submerged in free flowing thoughts. We are in flow! My perception is: I am part of them and they are part of me. I am thankful!

Serving as a facilitator/agent/catalyst/partner has expanded the parameters of my consciousness. It has been a remarkable gift. I am hopeful others will step forward to share the entirety of their experiences. A paradigm shift of this magnitude demands it!

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Mary Ann Harrington said:

Hi Beth,

Just saw your comment, I will check out your website and try and contact you. My email is [email protected] Put something on the subject line like FC so I do not inadvertently delete the message since I receive so much spam. Really look forward to talking to a fellow traveler.
Wed,11 Sep 2013,03:16:40 GMT

Beth K-G said:

Hi Mary Ann,
I hope this still finds its way to you as the last post I see in this conversation was in the fall of 2009.

I was encouraged to read your words, expressed with clarity and honesty. Many are having expereinces they are afraid to share with others or confuses and frightens them so much that they abandon facilitating altogether.

I would very much like to talk with you more directly. You can reach me through my website which is I live in Toronto.

Best wishes,
Fri,24 Aug 2012,15:47:51 GMT

Brenda Grubb said:

You have got it spot on Mary, there is a great stumling block caused by those people who have much to offer but afraid of being ridiculed by their peers; co-workers, etc. So lets give them some more encouragement, by starting to formulate your project in the way they would most want to be involved in. Before the scientists will come forward they like to see for certain a valid reason for whatever they are researching, and maybe they are already doing so in a small quiet way, but the more the tutors can provide the justification - and this would mean putting their faith to the test; after all, if they are working with these young people anyway then to me that must mean they already believe in what they are doing? - so all it needs is for them to share some more, their experiences on a more public platform like your suggestion of a conference / seminar; and the ideal placee for this would be from America, which is truly the future hub of 'The New World' after all this present mess has been dealt with, and I truly think / hope that by these such dialogues here, then can it all begin in earnest. I am not a tutor, or involved in anyway, but I can see how wonderful it could be, were this project to really take off, and indeed so easily can do so - if everyone who has a practial interest in this subject would simply stop; think about the future and put aside their fears of being ridiculed; or standing up to any vague threats about their employment status, should they act out of turn with those of equal status. Let them now know for sure that this is what is intended to happen, - the only true fear, is fear itself, - other than that the tide is truly turning in favour of this getting under way - so please get in touch with Mary Ann, and let her know you are right there at her side!(-:-)xx
Wed,07 Oct 2009,23:13:58 GMT

Mary Ann Harrington said:

Hi Brenda,

i am also excited by at seeing articles in harmony with my own starting to come forth. I believe many of us are being worked with at the same time. As more people come forth and share the truth of their experiences, the faster and stronger this consciousness expanding material will take root. If enough like minded thinkers, not afraid of ridicule come forward, scientists will eventually have to take the abilities these kids demonstrate seriously. They have so much to teach us about consciousness.

Thank you again for your kind words and support,

Mary Ann
Wed,07 Oct 2009,15:58:46 GMT

Brenda Grubb said:

Oh! please don't let that worry you Mary Ann! As I am led to believe, there are very strong spiritual/metaphysical links between the two Countries, which will assist in the stabalising of strong energies flowing to and from the both; thus making the future outcome very positive indeed. I have noticed other articles in harmony with your project coming forward onto the site, so its all starting to happen now; I'm just praying it will continue - there is a saying abaout keeping the pot boiling; in other words; keep the momentum of the energies now being created on the move; in a positive forward movement. In this way we will all overcome this present period (Hiccup) in our evolution(-:-) God Bless Mary Ann Love Brenda XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Wed,07 Oct 2009,14:36:33 GMT

Mary Ann Harrington said:


Thank you so much for your plea that others get behind me. i appreciate your support s on this controversial subject.

Thank you again for your support. I hope you will continue to add your great insights.
Love and blessings,

Mary Ann

PS Sorry, but i am not from England. i am from the US.
Wed,07 Oct 2009,01:59:21 GMT

Brenda Grubb said:

The vision is about to begin I feel, and from the right place too! The understanding that resides deep within the psyche of us who live in this particular country is thus:-

To ignore all surroundiing energies from a metaphysical point of view, knowing full well that we receive energy to go forward for very significant reason, that is; to use it in the intention given, as it is passed through to us as individuals and as a group system, and as we know it is via the group system that the building up can truly begin within the lower physical/material world. Now, this system could be used for Positive & Negative roles; we all know that the negative roles can and does create riots on the streets, and all of that scenario, for this is the energy that creates wars etc.. and is certainly not the use to which I refer to here! The energy which is now inthe infancy of structuring itself on the world scene in ernest is very positive; and will be for the future of life on earth in general terms, lets make no mistake. This country has always brought to the fore many; many of the fundemental things which ae in use throughout the world; and this will ever be the case as long as we have dear soulds like our Mary Ann.

I obnly hope and pray that many others will get behind Mary Ann, and get this thing off the ground, and who knows it COULD quite easily grow into a school college for the exclusive use of these special children who have so much to give the world and everyone in ti!

This is written soley for the use of giving some strength behind this seed now so strongly sewn, and is being fertilised through the comments we are all contributing to! - So, come on guys and gals come forward, put your knowledge to good positive use. Bless you Always Mary Ann xxxxxxxx
Sun,13 Sep 2009,12:17:36 GMT

Mary Ann Harrington said:

Hi Char,

I'm glad you found this site too! Thanks for your comments. I know you are aware of my journey and I am grateful for your support.

If enough facilitators or agents tell the whole truth of their experiences, and openly question all the variables, people called to the forefront of ideation by these incredible souls would start to be taken seriously.

It has been an arduous uphill journey. I would love to have a meeting at the summit. Mystics and mediums would be deeply appreciated guests and an important part of the exchange with our nonverbal friends. The more intuitively receptive the facilitator/agent, the more apt he might be to be able to step aside and let the communication come through and perhaps tell when influence is occurring.

As you know, I am a stronger sender than receiver. I certainly don't have all the answers. What I can offer is a series of pertinent and unanswered questions as well as demonstration of the nonverbal persons ability to receive. I suspect these gifted souls are also practicing a form of mediumship where they are in touch with subconscious or superconscious; however, unlike a medium, they need an intermediary to express them.

I am optimistic that it will happen! The universe supports open exploration and truth. Falsehoods and half-truths eventually fall by the wayside.

If and when you feel ready, please share your experiences and encourage others to do the same! For those you might know who don't feel ready, encourage them to share information anonymously. Information not shared is wasted.
(We need t leave the next generation something to build on!)

Love and blessings,
Mary Ann

Sat,12 Sep 2009,23:20:28 GMT

Brenda Grubb said:

Dear Mary, Just thought that the following piece, may be of use to the diiscussion here - which can and must be taken seriously; and must move forward with great strides! I have posted this elsewhere on the site, and thought this part of it was very significant just now.

Autism does prove beyond doubt that the physical body alone is not the complete person; that life is truly so much more than what we see/sense with our five senses.

This debate must be expanded; and I guess that those who are meant to read the comments here will indeed do so, and may they take on board what is written by those who have the perfect vision of what is possible, they are merely speaking up for and behalf of the children letting all who would listen know that the future of mankind lies not in the hands of politicians etc.. just look at the knowledge these children possess and please to take notice of it:-

This article involves those people who hold the future of life on planet earth in their hands, well, you could easily say that includes each one of us, and you would be right; however, for now I am inspired to focus on one group of us - Our Children, or, rather those who are ‘quite special’ so are capable of turning everything around so that a very positive and strong future can be had by all humans as they live out their life’s span on Mother Earth.

There are those on the earth now, who can and do live quite comfortably in ‘the two worlds’ simultaneously. They are quite capable of knowing the future, for they are already there. So if the rest were able to let them show the way forward we could, all of us, quite easily know and begin to reshape the projection of life on Mother Earth.

Of course these children are needing the adults who can accept their way of seeing life, and so can readily bring the understanding they hold within forward, and allow them the freedom of using the knowledge they possess, - more than that; they could quite easily assist them in putting it into practice were they farsighted enough to see the potential in these special people; rather than merely analyzing them and comparing them to ’present day standards’.

We are now on the cusp of a very important wave upon Mother Earth, as we all enter into the Shift in the Consciousness of this very special planet. So, now is the time which is the right time to take the brakes off and stop all the analyzing, and the dissecting of all the information these young people possess.

This is the time to utilize all of the enthusiasm the young possess, and which will carry all through this period of ‘chaos’ as we move away from what has been, and on into what is to come.

By holding onto the idea that because we have all the ‘experience & expertise’ we must be very significant in the scheme of things; we are in effect causing a ‘blockage’ in the future life for all life on this planet, Now is the time when the metaphorical Dandelion Seeds can leave the plant to take flight and be at the Mercy of Natures Winds, to replant them where they maybe most beneficial to future growth before the artificial brain thinks enough to destroy the Plan of Mother Nature.
Bless you Mary(-:-)xxxxxxx
Thu,10 Sep 2009,21:20:14 GMT

Char Brandl said:

There is so much misunderstanding and disagreement when it comes to autism, and so much controversy when it comes to people who type to communicate. Mary Ann, you have always spoken openly about your experiences, and that isn't easy to do - people are all too eager to criticize, or completely ignore (not sure which is worse) what you have to say.
I think something very special is going on, have had many similar experiences, and sincerely hope there will come a day when these things can be openly discussed. I don't have the answers, but DO believe there are better days ahead.

I am glad to have found this site, and will try to stay involved in the discussion.

Thu,10 Sep 2009,16:32:47 GMT

Mary Ann Harrington said:

Thank you both for your comments. I have been waiting for a long time for a full discussion of all the variables. I am hopeful!

Mary Ann
Sun,06 Sep 2009,01:29:03 GMT

Ascend2luv said:

Dear Mary, in response to the following:

"They usually claim the information is coming entirely from the person typing. Supporters often say the nonverbal person has been gleaning information from his environment even if he has not been formally taught literacy skills. The Detractors believe that the facilitator is leading the typist, possibly subconsciously."

The children can communicate pls look at the link below:

Tito wrote:

"One day I dream that we can grow in a matured society where nobody would be 'normal or abnormal' but just human beings, accepting any other human being- ready to grow together."
- Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay, in The Mind Tree, Arcade Publishing, 2003© National Autistic Society
Once in a great while, a special person emerges in the history of science and medicine whose unique set of characteristics sheds light on an entire disorder and sometimes even on the mysteries of the human brain. Tito is such a person. Although he has severe autism and is nearly nonverbal, his ability to communicate through his extraordinary writing is astonishing.

Thank you for believing in these children, I am a mother to one such special child, I have posted on another article but I will repeat the info here. These children are fully able to communicate, its us who cannot understand them or get it.

Much love

Caz x
Mon,31 Aug 2009,13:59:09 GMT

Brenda Grubb said:

I too think that there can and indeed will come forth a lot of information regarding the above article - it will open up a grand debate, should someone persist with the idea. Like all great discoveries; there will be a period whereby there will be some who will be 'in denial' mode before the egg has finally been cracked open to reveal the new understanding of the life of humans, and how we are all just on the cusp of a dew dimensional understanding of that word, and just what it truly does mean to be HUMAN - good luck Mary Ann(-:-)xx
Thu,27 Aug 2009,22:47:54 GMT
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