Friday, June 8, 2007

Facilitated Communication Revisited

There is this person I know. She's NT, more or less. She identifies herself with that group anyhow. She’s sure FC is a sham and a scam and a really bad thing. She’s heard things.

This person and I have a relationship conducted mostly through email. Sometimes we talk in this way for an hour or so, writing back and forth. It’s fun and meets my companionship needs well. Here’s the weird thing, though. Sometimes, I can tell whether or not her husband is home just by the way she writes, even though he hasn’t been mentioned. How come?

There is a different tone and tenor to the conversation. I can’t put my finger on it (with or without assistance) but it’s there. His presence changes her, sometimes directly as he adds his own thoughts to the discussion, sometimes (I believe) indirectly, as his very nearness changes her mood and focus. Maybe his hand touches her shoulder and opens a place in her heart that isn’t accessible to others. I don’t know.

I submit that this is a form of facilitated communication.

NTs and autistics alike are changed in the presence of others. In the best of relationships, the changes are mostly positive. For me, having another person in the room is noticeably draining. For some, it seems to be energizing. I doubt it is completely neutral for many. Using email instead of a phone or face to face conversation, I am almost entirely myself. It is a paradoxically comfortable and frightening thing.

Amanda has written much more in depth on this subject. (Right now, I can't seem to find the specific post of hers I wanted to link to). This is just a recent personal experience I wanted to add.


  1. I have never understood why people are opposed to FC. I have read far too many stories (and known some kids who used it as wel) about people whose whole world was opened up thanks to FC.

    You are right that FC is not just for people with so-called communication disabilities. Even the tone of people's voices changes depending on whom they are talking to. Interesting, eh?

    Karen in CA

  2. Yes, and there is also something called "the observer effect".

  3. Hmmm... From an NSA standpoint, me wonders if a biometric signature could be established when sampling someone's speech patterns to determine who else might be in the room with them. Factors that could be considered against baseline could be tune, tone, pitch, character, rhythm, cadence, inflection, resonance, projection, persistence, consonant and vowel durations, dipthongal transitioning, sputters, stammers and crutches, etc., etc., etc....

    This may be a good topic for some good R&D. It may even serve to gain situational awareness and actionable HUMINT for, say, a hostage crisis, etc.

    An algorithm such as Multiple Excitation Linear Prediction - enhanced (MELPe) could be employed for this analysis.



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