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Getting Started

Who does this approach work for?

Supported Typing or Facilitated Communication (FC) may be useful for some individuals who have limited or highly impaired speech and who cannot point reliably on their own. This may be due to impulsivity, regulation of movement, eye/hand coordination, difficulty with initiation, and sustainment of movement.

Does supported typing work for every person with disability that can’t communicate?

This method may not work for everyone, but it has showed successful for people with cerebral palsy, autism and other developmental disabilities.

Is supported typing recommended if my child or student has some verbal speech (i.e. asks for bathroom, or says people’s names)?

Typing can broaden the communication of individuals that have limited verbal skills as well as make communication more reliable for individuals that have echolalia or repetitive speech.

If my child communicates through supported typing, should that be the only AAC or communication means to be used?

Supported typing or FC can be used in conjunction with other communication methods (i.e. pointing to pictures, use of speech, etc.) This method should be part of a total communication approach that allows individuals the greatest access to meaningful communication in all settings.

How long until the person learns to type to communicate? And how long to will it take before they can type with no physical support?

Because each person is unique, learning to type is an individualized process. It may take a considerable time to achieve success - sometimes weeks or months. Independence depends also on the motor issues that the person faces, as well as emotional issues. While not all communication aid users will be able to type with no physical support, independent typing is the goal for all users and their families.

Can an individual with a disability who does not talk really interact and communicate?

It is important that individuals with disabilities be presumed competent and desirous of ways to communicate; success or failure will depend not only on the communication user but also on the educational and interactional opportunities he or she finds available. Potential facilitators should seek training during all stages of learning and using the method.

In what contexts can supported typing be used?

This method is used in schools, at home, in social places (e.g. mall, party, restaurant), wherever interactions occur. People can use supported typing to do homework, to participate in a discussion in a college class, to chat with friends in a restaurant, to write essays, poetry or books, to request something or to engage in conversations.

How do I know that it is the communicator typing the message and not the person providing the support?

For each individual who learns to type with physical support, it is crucial that the person learns means of demonstrating authorship. For example, by learning to pass messages, by learning to make multiple-choice selections without physical support, by speaking before and as typing, by typing without physical support, or through other available methods.

Are there resources to support the training process?

Of course! The Facilitated Communication Training Standards (2000) will help support teams develop and maintain best practices and technique. Though not a replacement for hands on training, this comprehensive document will help guide new support teams in establishing best practice and working towards independence. 

A Manual from the Hussman Institute for Autism
Presume Competence
Autism Support 1.0

A guide to successful, evidence-based principles for supporting and engaging individuals with autism.