The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Community News Network

January 17, 2013

Slate: Is the neurodiversity movement misrepresenting autism?

(Continued)

The diagnoses of Sue Rubin, Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher, on the other hand, have never been questioned. Rubin, featured in the Oscar-nominated 2004 documentary "Autism Is a World," was considered severely intellectually disabled for most of her childhood, with a tested IQ of 29. Bissonnette and Thresher star in the 2011 film "Wretches and Jabberers"; Bissonnette was institutionalized into his 20s, while Thresher grew up in special-ed classes. Although all three are capable of speaking simple words or phrases, their lives were transformed when they were introduced to Facilitated Communication (FC), a method of supported typing. A facilitator holds the user at the wrist, elbow, or shoulder, as is the case for Thresher and Bissonnette, or the facilitator may hold the keyboard in place, as is the case for Rubin. With this help, all three produce sophisticated written work that has enabled Rubin to attend college and Thresher to serve on two state-level disability committees in Vermont, where he lives.

However, FC has been exhaustively studied since Douglas Biklen (the producer, incidentally, of Wretches and Jabberers) brought the technique to the United States from Australia in 1989. Dozens of controlled studies have confirmed that the products of FC reflect the (usually unconscious) movements of the facilitator, not authentic communication by the user. The very few studies that support FC are generally anecdotal or inconclusive; one of the most referenced reports, a 1996 study by Cardinal et al., actually found that success "only occurred with prolonged practice of the experimental task, and there were many inconsistencies in the responses, even after prolonged practice." The case against FC is so strong that it has been rejected by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and the American Psychological Association, among many, many other groups.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014