Saturday, July 28, 2012

Carly's Story

Carly's story is a really incredible one about an autistic girl getting her voice through typing. I cannot even imagine feeling trapped inside my body, as she expresses.

Yet a small part of me remains skeptical. As some of you may recall, there were a number of stories years back about facilitated communication, where a trained therapist assists an autistic individual with typing by holding the individual's hand over a keyboard. Unfortunately, studies showed that facilitated communication was not likely legitimate communication, but was actually a result of the facilitator guiding/influencing the communication by placing the autistic individual's hand. There is quite a bit of debate about the validity of the various studies, but they have consistently reported negative findings regarding the efficacy of FC.  I do not know whether FC works in some cases. Many parents are convinced that it does, and who am I to say otherwise? But there is at least some room to imagine the technique could be abused.  A 20/20 story exposed one instance that turned out to be a likely hoax, where a child accused her father of sexual molestation via facilitated communication. Naturally, this news report immediately made me think of that tragic outcome to what seemed to be an amazing therapy at the time.

But in this story, Carly guides her own hand, and at least to my untrained eye, it is pretty amazing. It seems like this "un-facilitated communication" (no one holding her hand) would be much harder to fake and influence than facilitated communication, especially in front of a camera and reporter. For Carly's sake, I hope this is a true picture of what is happening in her mind. And if it is, I think this is a real miracle that opens doors for one young woman, sheds light on autism in general, and offers hope for others.

Click the above photo to see the video about Carly

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