Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Adaptive Technology Week 3

When I was in early high school, my neighbor's third child, Anthony, was diagnosed as autistic. He seemed "normal" until just before his second birthday. As his symptoms increased, he became difficult to babysit. Although he followed simple directions, Anthony was in his own world.

When I watched the documentary, I observed that the first camera shot of Facilitated Communication showed a woman holding the shirt sleeve of her pupil as he typed. As the documentary progressed, the next generation of facilitators seemed to almost guide their charges' pointed fingers to the keyboard. Even before the "big reveal" that FC was not what it seemed, I thougth it strange that kids who weren't even looking at a keyboard could type so accurately with one finger.

The New Hampshire pharmacist, Mr. Gherardi, who was accused of abusing his son observed, "If a new drug had just been discovered, it wouldn't be something that would be just thrown out into the market." (PBS) He questioned why Facilitative Communication, which almost destroyed his life, was allowed to be implemented without blind testing.

According to Bryant and Bryant, students, teachers, and families should all be involved in the use of a child's Assistive Technology. In the video, only one person per student was trained to work with a child. The adaptation could not be used in all environments. AT devices should also promote independence. Even if Facilitated Communication works as the originators believe it does, the autistic child is wholly dependent on a single facilitator in order to do school work. The PBS documentary showed a well-intentioned but poorly implemented type of AT.

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