Analysis finds no evidence for popular autism communication method
A comprehensive review has found no scientific basis for a controversial technique that supposedly helps autistic people communicate1.
In the ‘rapid prompting method,’ a person trained in the technique holds an alphabet board or a tablet and, using words or gestures, prompts an autistic person to point to or tap letters, words or pictures.
The method resembles a discredited technique, called facilitated communication, in which a person applies pressure to the hand or arm of an autistic person to help her share her thoughts via a board or tablet. A string of rigorous studies, dating back to the 1990s, has shown that messages created by facilitated communication are almost always controlled by the facilitator — sometimes with harmful consequences.
“There’s no scientific validity to [rapid prompting],” says Diane Paul, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology at the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association, who was not involved in the study. “It hasn’t been demonstrated to lead to independent communication, and it’s very prompt-dependent.”