Facilitated communication is a controversial technique for assisting individuals with autism and related language impairments to communicate. It typically involves an adult facilitator who physically guides the individual's hand to select letters or symbols from a communication device, such as an alphabet board. When facilitated, many individuals with autism have supposedly shown unexpectedly advanced language skills, including the ability to spell and compose highly sophisticated messages. The technique is controversial because the facilitator may intentionally or unintentionally influence the selection of letters or symbols. Indeed, considerable experimental evidence has shown that, more often than not, it is the facilitator, rather than the individual being facilitated, who is responsible for the content of the resulting messages. In light of this evidence, numerous professional groups have issued position statements highlighting the lack of empirical support for facilitated communication and the need to verify that facilitated communications are free from facilitator influence.
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