Perhaps the Emperor Has Clothes After All A Response to Biklen Second Opinion
Second Opinion  |   January 01, 1992
Perhaps the Emperor Has Clothes After All
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stephen N. Calculator
    Department of Communication Disorders, University of New Hampshire
Article Information
Second Opinions
Second Opinion   |   January 01, 1992
Perhaps the Emperor Has Clothes After All
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, January 1992, Vol. 1, 18-20. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0102.18
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, January 1992, Vol. 1, 18-20. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0102.18
Although I may qualify as one who possesses “expertise” in the area of facilitated communication, I believe that the number of unanswered and unposed questions related to this subject precludes anyone claiming expert status. Since completing a 2–day training seminar coordinated by Doug Biklen, I have attempted this technique with 5 children and young adults in New Hampshire. In addition, I have tracked colleagues’ accounts elsewhere in the state. Like Biklen (1990)  and Crossley and McDonald (1980), I am encountering individuals whose social and verbal competencies defy classic conceptualizations of autism (e.g., American Psychiatric Association, 1980; Kanner, 1943; Rutter, 1978). Recently, this came to a head when I was contracted by a school to verify or reject a parent’s claims that her 14–year–old daughter, identified as autistic, visually impaired, and severely mentally retarded, was able to read and spell messages on an alphabet display. The child became greatly agitated upon my entering her home. Attempts by her mother and a second facilitator to converse with her were unsuccessful. She then communicated (via a Canon Communicator) that I was making her nervous—I was in her home not as a friend, but as a school employee and evaluator. The multiple misspellings, punctuation and syntactic errors, along with responses which changed the topic which had been initiated by her facilitator, left little room for questioning who was authoring these messages.
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