Prisoners of Silence
Facilitated communication (FC) has been heralded as a breakthrough technique for nonverbal people with autism. The method uses a helper to control the involuntary movements of an autistic person's hand, allowing that person to type his or her thoughts on a keyboard. Thousands of people have begun using FC, often to communicate major life decisions like the desire to go to college or to move to a new home. But many scientists reject FC as simply not real and believe that it is the facilitator who is unknowingly controlling the hand of the autistic individual. FRONTLINE presents a comprehensive investigation of this controversial technique, interviewing the leaders of the FC movement, scientists, facilitators, and parents of autistic children and raises tough questions about the implications of its use for people with autism and their families.
Producer(s): Jon Palfreman