Autistic man breaks through the silence

What a great story.



  • attackman

    Given the history of facilitated communication and it’s modern descendant, Rapid Prompting Method (neither of which is acutal communication from the subject), I’m unwilling to believe this young man’s story until both the details seem credible and we get some reviewed research on the methods in play. That said, if this is truly independent communication, this could get interesting.

    • http://mattstocum.com Matt Stocum

      The fact that he doesn’t communicate with the father as well as with the mother is another strong indicator that it’s the mother doing all of the communication.

  • http://mattstocum.com Matt Stocum

    I really hate to be the grumpy skeptic, but this is a story of a mother who wants to talk to her son so bad she’s fooled herself into it. “Watson hesitated, then grabbed his mother’s hand and slowly typed the last word of her sentence.” The mother is the one answering the questions, most likely without even being aware of it.

    • Timmy

      The article does state that:

      “Even then, he struggles. Watson initially found it easier to grab his mom’s hand and guide her outstretched finger to type words rather than extend his own. He doesn’t do that much anymore but still prefers to clutch her hand while he types with his own finger.”

      So he does type with his own finger, but previously did not. If this is really the case, I’m willing to believe the article. Of course, it is up to the journalist to verify it.

      • http://mattstocum.com Matt Stocum

        A common method of facilitated communication is where the facilitator holds the patients hand, but the patient points out letters with his hand. It sounds like that’s what they’re describing.

        • http://madebytyler.com/ Tyler Hayes

          Can you break it down for me a little bit more? I know those with autism, for example, use other peoples’ hands essentially as tools. They see the hand as a tool, not an extension of the person. (Or at least that’s what I was taught when I was in school.) But when I read the fairly comprehensive discussions Watson has with his mother about his autism and his school/”abuse” history it seems pretty clear to me it’s he who is speaking, if even via his mother’s hand?

          cc @Timmy_de_G:disqus @attackman:disqus

          • http://mattstocum.com Matt Stocum

            First, just to be clear, I’m not accusing the mother of lying. I think she believes what she’s saying. I just think she’s mistaken. If you watch a video of facilitated communication sessions, the autistic child is almost never looking at the board, but the facilitator always is. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible for kids who otherwise can’t speak, for some reason, but are still able to read and spell. Notice how that’s missing from this story? Any discussion about when Watson learned to read? The closest you have is a Dr. Suess book which he carries around with him and flips through the pages of. Where did he learn the word “incessant”? Certainly not from Dr. Suess.

            Watch the video around 1:40 where you see him and his mother typing. She’s clearly guiding his hand. Show me a video where he’s typing without her looking at the screen.

            I also wouldn’t take the allegations of abuse as proof of anything. The mother could have suspected her son was being abused by the school.

            If you want more information, read this link http://www.skepdic.com/facilcom.html

          • http://madebytyler.com/ Tyler Hayes

            That’s helpful. Thank you.

          • http://mattstocum.com Matt Stocum

            And really, if I am right, and the mother is talking to herself, so what? If it makes her happy, it makes her happy. It’s just when you see these stories hit the media, with absolutely no attempt to verify, and just being linked with comments like, “what a great story,” that’s where I get annoyed. This makes me trust everything on The Loop a little less.

  • johndhynes

    It’s called facilitated communication and it’s just like dowsing. Notice he only types when his mother holds his hand; she’s the dowser and he’s the rod. There is no evidence that he’s producing words independently. see http://www.skepdic.com/facilcom.html

  • johndhynes

    An even better analogy is a ouija board.