Facilitated communication was introduced in the United States in the early 1990's. Known as FC, it is generally described as a technique in which a facilitator supports the hand, wrist or arm of a non-verbal person to aid them in typing and communicating responses.
When first introduced, it was widely hailed as a breakthrough that allowed large numbers of non-verbal people to communicate effectively. However, FC became highly controversial when numerous studies showed that often facilitators were influencing their subjects' typing by guiding their responses, even prompting the American Psychological Association to adopt the position in 1994 that "facilitated communication is a controversial and unproved communicative procedure with no scientifically demonstrated support for its efficacy."
Subsequent literature, studies, and views on FC largely discredit the technique. However, a small number of peer-reviewed articles did publish confirming evidence that validates some individuals' use of FC. Some experts believe that FC can be effective in certain specific circumstances. A subject's personality, disorder, motor skills, emotional commitment and work ethic are all critical factors influencing the possible effectiveness of FC. It is also heavily affected by the skills and training of the facilitator. Though Sue Rubin learned to type by having a facilitator support her hand and arm, she has now been typing independently for years.
For a summary of some relevant studies over the last decade, click here.