Autism & Keyboarding, Matt Hobson's Success

| by Val

Recently some families have shared about successes experienced at the keyboard by their autism affected loved one.

When mentioning the keyboard as a form of communication for those who are non verbal, it strikes the nerves of many professionals. Memories are still fresh with regard to research that debunks facilitated communication - which utilizes the keyboard, and it appears that there is justification for the skepticism. Understandably, some sensibilities have been offended by the emphasis of facilitators who have been known to put their own words in the ones for which they were supposed to be facilitating. 

There are, however, a few that have been helped by facilitated communication.

A Times article by Claudia Wallis describes her experience while meeting with families and professionals involved with faciliated commuication.  The are some individuals who have been liberated, in a manner of speaking, from their non-verbal world.  According to Claudia Wallis...

...But at Syracuse, I became convinced that at least some facilitated communication is for real, and for someone with no other form of communication, it can be life altering. (link)


A truer statement cannot be found - if one compares it to Matt Hobson's reality. Well over ten years ago a news station did a profile on Matt and his mother Nancy, who together, learned to communicate via facilitated communication. After utilizing their form of communication for a while, one day Matt typed, "I'm so glad you found me in here."

Matt Hobson is now 28 years old and getting ready to graduate from college. He and his mother have co authored a book called, I'm So Glad You Found Me In Here.

From Skeptic's Dictionary comes the following...

...While several studies have indicated that facilitated communication does tap into the mind of a person who heretofore had been incommunicado, most studies have shown that facilitated communication only taps into the beliefs and expectations of the facilitator.


However, even the skeptic points out that giving a means of expression to those who are non verbal in any way we can is not a bad thing, it is only bad when facilitators so completely put their own words in the mouths (so to speak) of the ones for which they are supposed to be facilitating - that it is an impotent. The skeptic does say... Nevertheless, there are many testimonials supporting FC, namely, letters from clients who are grateful to FC for allowing them to show to the world that they are not retarded or stupid. Some of them may be from people who have been genuinely helped by FC.

One family recently shared about the long process of giving their young son a way to communicate via keyboarding. From a BBC article

...We started getting him to type the words he knew how to sign and made very, very slow progress. We often thought of giving up. After a couple of years he started reading signs and we saw that he could read. We started asking him questions and he would type all sorts of things we had no idea he knew.


The point of allowing keyboarding as a form of communication, is that it seems helpful to some - and the proof is usually in individual, ongoing outcome. Using the keyboard, is like giving one a pencil and some paper. Or using the keyboard can lend greater social sense, as I think of my autistic daughter's use of the cell phone. She texts way better than she talks! Use of the keyboard does not always indicate that the use of facilitated communication, as the program understood in research - is at play.

Communication provides a sense of freedom, without some form of communication a person is isolated. I am glad the use of keyboarding (typing) is beneficial for some.