At all times, please remember to utilize and promote the standards of best practice in communication support and encourage others to do the same. In particular, support for looking at the keyboard and fading physical support needs to happen all the time in order to foster the person being in control of his or her communication.
When working to support a person to learn to point to communicate it is central to focus on approaching the FC user as an equal. Be sure to interact with the FC user just as you would a person without a disability.
People with disabilities, who struggle to communicate, should be approached as equals. Facilitators should practice the following:
The goal of facilitated communication is to allow facilitated communication users to use language to accomplish all of the typical communication functions that are useful in daily life. To do this, facilitated communication users need to be provided with opportunities be heard. Facilitators should ask themselves:
Physical support may include the following:
Emotional support involves providing encouragement, but not direction, as the person points to communicate. In their role of providing emotional support, the facilitator acts like that of a coach. When providing support the facilitator might say:
It is important to let the FC user know that you understand that this is difficult, but that you also know they can achieve this goal.
Various forms of prompts and cues to assist the FC user to stay focused in the communication interaction, to provide feedback to the FC user on the content of their message, and to assist the FC user in clarifying unclear messages. Again in providing communicative support the facilitator is taking on the role of a coach. When providing communicative support the facilitator is helping the FC user to focus their attention and completed the message.
Strategies for providing communicative support:
When providing communicative support the facilitator might say:
Facilitated communication training is not meant to replace established, effective strategies currently being used by a person; rather, it is meant to provide a means whereby that person can expand current strategies and develop a more comprehensive means of expression.
Many people who type to communicate also use the following communication strategies:
FC users must have the support of a team of people committed to continued successful use of the method. This team may include family members, teachers, therapists and friends. Support and commitment from an FC user’s team is critical to long-term success with augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) and facilitated communication training. In order to be empowered and personally invested in any communication evaluation, planning, and teaching/learning, the FC user must always be included and involved in decisions which relate to the following:
In addition to the facilitated communication user, parents, other family members, and others who know the person well will usually play a vital role in obtaining and providing this information, in initiating action, and in other aspects of the decision-making process.
In order for facilitated communication training to be considered and successfully implemented, two things must occur: an individual needs to be identified as a candidate and those who support that individual need to show commitment to the training process. Both of these elements begin with the assessment. In determining the benefit of facilitated communication training for an individual, the following should be considered:
A primary, long-term goal of facilitated communication training is independent communication. This involves:
The fading of physical support should begin at the outset of the training process, with both facilitators and facilitated communication users working toward this goal. There should be regular training sessions focused specifically on independence, which may involve going back to set work and trying some routine responses and exercises without support. Always provide the support needed for open communication during this process, but continue with the set work exercises while the FC user is working on typing without physical touch.
Facilitated communication training must involve ongoing, active widening of the number of people prepared to support an individual’s communication for the following reasons:
Facilitation with an inexperienced facilitator, or with one who has not worked previously with a particular facilitated communication user, is likely to be more challenging and frustrating than facilitation with someone with whom the facilitated communication user has an ongoing relationship. Therefore, the contact time of facilitators should be arranged so that experienced facilitators are positioned to support the development of expertise and comfort within the new dyad. Inexperienced facilitators should not be expected to provide support beyond their skill level (e.g., in test situations).
Kasa, C. (2008). Adapted from the ICI training standards (ICI, Syracuse University, 2000).