You are correct, sir. I apologize for the error—I have seen this mistake (and someone correcting it) in crosswords before, but know too little about golf myself to have prevented myself from making it. Thanks for pointing it out.
Ah--thanks for the correction! Glad to learn of glass lizards.
Reggie, thanks for your comment. I'm not calling Staff Sergeant Massey a liar, I don't have any grounds for doing so. I'm merely reporting that in researching the back-and-forth between Massey and his critics, it's difficult to tell exactly what happened from the conflicting stories.
I'm a great admirer of the film The Good Soldier, and I'm impressed by Staff Sergeant Massey's courage in following the dictates of his conscience after the war. I wish more veterans would do as he's done and come forward to tell their stories publicly, the better for the American people to know what's really going on over there.
Kenny, thanks for your input. I've posted this response in the letters to the editor section.
First of all, Id like to thank the letter writers and commenters for adding their thoughts and perspectives on my article. The subject of facilitated communication (FC) turns out to need much greater attention than the 750 words I wrote in my review of A New Kind of Listening.
I appreciate Kenny Dalsheimer and Alison Latimers setting the record straight on the reasons for the disclaimer at the end of the film. In talking to Dalsheimer, I was told that the Institute had been shown a rough cut, and that a decision was made to add the disclaimer. But I misunderstood his explanation and thought the Institute had requested it. I apologize for the error.
Like Dalsheimer, who didnt want FC to be the focus of his film, I didnt want it to be the focus of my reviewthe film tells the story of an inclusive theater group, and the FC question is tangential to its main points. But I felt that to leave unmentioned the serious doubts I felt on seeing the communication depicted in it would betray my responsibility as a reviewer, would amount to an act of willful ignorance along the lines of the emperors new clothes. I watched the video very carefully, repeatedly pausing and rewinding. It seems clear that at times Chris Mueller-Medlicott is typing without looking at the keyboard. This was the cause of my initial suspicions.
As far as the accusation of lazy journalism and of failing to do proper research before writing my article, I acknowledge that I could have contacted more sources. But again, the credibility of FC was not the focus of my article. And, in fact, I did research the issue rather extensively before I wrote about it.
There is a vast wealth of material on FC on the Internet. The disclaimer at the end of the film states, For training guidelines and research validating facilitated communication please visit: www.inclusioninstitutes.org. I visited the site, and read the better part of the information posted there. I found much other relevant information at the Web site for DEAL (Dignity, Education and Learning: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~dealcc/), an Australian organization directed by Rosemary Crossley, the inventor of facilitated communication, and at numerous other sites.
I also came across a documentary that appeared on the PBS series Frontline in 1993. The film, Prisoners of Silence, echoed many of the doubts I experienced while watching A New Kind of Listening (a transcript of the show is here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/programs/transcripts/1202.html. It has also been posted to Google Video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3439467496200920717&ei=Yl_ySoKDIY3uqQKH0ow9&hl=en#).
The Frontline documentary, and much other research available or referred to online, presents overwhelming evidence against facilitated communication. Study after study has revealed messages typed using FC that originated from the facilitator, not the client. In 1994, the American Psychological Association resolved that Peer reviewed, scientifically based studies have found that the typed language output (represented through computers, letter boards, etc.) attributed to the clients was directed or systematically determined by the paraprofessional/professional therapists who provided facilitated assistance . Consequently, specific activities [involving FC] contribute immediate threats to the individual civil and human rights of the person with autism or severe mental retardation.
The FC communitys responses to specific criticism do not seem credible. In the face of the accumulated evidence, they accuse their critics of professional bias, poor study design, and a desire to silence people who are disabled. They point to a few cases in which clients using FC have gone on to communicate independently. This is a marvelous outcome for those individuals, but it doesnt diminish the grave danger to the rights of other FC clients, for whom the evidence indicates that in the majority of cases, someone else is essentially speaking for them.
The issues surrounding FC inspire intense emotions that can cloud rational judgment. Its not surprising that many therapists, family members and advocates would prefer to ignore evidence that it doesnt work. To be sure, in the specific case of Chris Mueller-Medlicott, Im not prepared to make any definitive claim about the validity of his communication. His family and others around him were in a better position to judge than a critic who watched an hour-long film in which he appeared.
I do, however, want to share with Indy readers the results of my research on facilitated communication. I invite those who are interested to look into the matter for themselves and decide which arguments they find most persuasive.
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