Food and Behaviour Research

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The persistence of fad interventions in the face of negative scientific evidence: Facilitated communication for autism as a case example

Lilienfeld SO, Marshalla J, Todd JT, Shane HC (2015) Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention  DOI:10.1080/17489539.2014.976332 Taylor & Francis online

Web URL: Please find the OPEN ACCESS paper on the Taylor & Francis online website here


Communication disorder and mental health professionals may assume that once novel clinical techniques have been refuted by research, they will be promptly abandoned.

Using facilitated communication (FC) for autism as a recent case example, we provide evidence to the contrary.

Although FC was scientifically discredited by the mid-to-late 1990s, data we review demonstrate that it is still frequently administered in clinical and educational settings.

We examine evidence for FC’s (a) continued use as an intervention for autism, (b) persistence in academic and institutional settings, (c) popularity in online and print sources, (d) promotion in the media, and (e) ongoing risk to caregivers accused of sexual abuse.

We analyze the sources of these troubling developments, explore their ethical implications, and offer recommendations for addressing the spread of FC and other fad interventions.


Please find the related news item here: 

26 February 2015 - ScienceDaily - Why debunked autism treatment fads persist