Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Parents of autistic children are urging schools to allow controversial communication techniques

Mike is not able to speak. He points at letters on a laminated alphabet board or types on a keyboard that an aide holds. Nationally, most students who can’t talk are in self-contained classrooms or autism programs or, like Mike used to be, in a separate school for students with severe disabilities.
But five years ago, Mike and his mother traveled to Texas to explore a novel communication technique called Rapid Prompting Method that led to what his family describes as a breakthrough. About a year later, he joined a new pilot program in Montgomery County Public Schools for autistic students who rely on keyboards and communication partners.

Montgomery County is unusual, if not unique, in creating such a program. Many schools have denied similar requests for programs that allow rapid prompting, or a similar technique known as facilitated communication that was widely discredited by the scientific community in the 1990s.

In an autism world with few documented treatments and many high-cost promises, the use of these techniques has stirred strong emotions. Critics say they offer false hope to desperate families, while advocates argue that they help some people and that it is wrong to stop exploring the only means some may have of communicating.

Read more here at the Washington Post.