Home News ASHA Responds to WSJ Op-Ed on Rapid Prompting

ASHA Responds to WSJ Op-Ed on Rapid Prompting

by Carol Polovoy
Attentive mother helps son use laptop at home

In a letter to the editor published in the Sept. 27 Wall Street Journal, ASHA President Elise Davis-McFarland defends ASHA’s positions that discourage the use of facilitated communication and the rapid prompting method (RPM).

The letter is in response to a Sept. 23 op-ed piece in the same publication, written by a blogger with “nonspeaking autism” who claims he learned to communicate with RPM.

“Readers [of the op-ed] may come away with the impression that ASHA is the only organization that doesn’t recommend RPM,” Davis-McFarland says in the letter, noting that the associations for communication sciences and disorders professionals in Ireland, Australia and Canada have similar positions for the same basic reason—the lack of high-quality scientific proof of RPM’s efficacy.

Davis-McFarland says that ASHA’s positions are based on thorough, year-long, peer-reviewed process, and will review its statement if any rigorous studies showing efficacy are published. The association, she says, cannot rely on anecdotal accounts when making practice recommendations, “particularly when the practice of RPM bears many similarities to a widely discredited technique, facilitated communication, which has been proven ineffective and resulted in serious harm.”

ASHA encourages the use of augmentative and alternative communication devices that foster independence, absent the involvement of prompters or facilitators. “Proven methods that allow an individual to have a truly independent voice are being used successfully every day, all across the country, by speech-language pathologists,” she concludes.

Carol Polovoy is managing editor of The ASHA Leader. cpolovoy@asha.org

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G. S. Jeffery September 28, 2018 - 3:51 pm

Neither ASHA’s statement nor your blog entry acknowledge the fact that Ido Kedar now types independently, which would be considered an a proven form of communication by ASHA’s standards. He typed his op-ed independently. The op-ed that states he types independently by learning to type through RPM. This is not an anecdotal account. It is a fact. If only ASHA didn’t contradict itself so much, it wouldn’t have lost the respect of thousands of people.

Idiotic parent September 28, 2018 - 4:38 pm

Well, isn’t that nice? Glad you have something to fill your time. Discrediting stuff for us idiotic masses that can’t make a single move without scientific research. I can’t even choose toilet paper without some good scientific research! Thank God I’ve got you reasonable “experts” to look to to tell me how to help my non-speaking autistic child! I mean I know nothing about autism, no clue what my kid is doing or what they are trying to convey. I think I’ll just hand my kid Proloquo2Go on the iPad and sprint from the room—he should be able to figure it out in his own, right? My kid learning to use ACC should require no instruction or assistance from me. If I’m standing in the same room with my kid when he uses it—it might not actually be him typing l, but me. I mean he used to do ABA therapy on himself too—couldn’t have anyone influencing him, after all. If I work with him or train him—then it is totally invalid. Just chuck it all out the window. If he needs even a little bit of support or encouragement from me, then it’s all crap! Thanks for clearing that up for me ASHA.

Ivonne September 28, 2018 - 10:01 pm

Has ASHA taken the time to have a face to face meeting with any of the many non-speaking autistic individuals who use RPM to communicate? You cannot discredit a methodology based on a lack of scientific evidence when you don’t even allow these non-speaking autistic individuals to represent themselves and tell you how RPM has completely changed their world. Shame on you ASHA to promote themselves as “Making effective communication, a human right, accessible and achievable for all”, yet deliberately closing the doors to communication for so many non-speaking autistic individuals. My daughter is 19 and until March 2018 has never been able to communicate at all using any of the methodologies endorsed by ASHA. Finally after 19 long years of struggling, countless hours of a number of therapies, countless hours of picture exchange therapy, hundreds of thousands of dollars in any treatment, ABA therapy and so on, with no improvement what so ever, finally, because of RPM her world is completely changing for the better. For the first time after 19 years she is answering questions using her own words. Her overall skills, demeanour, sleeping patterns, has changed for the better. Shame on you ASHA.

AnnT October 26, 2018 - 9:39 pm

Shame on you. Your position/names will be shadowed in shame for years and years to come. Perhaps there is fear that parents can find a sustainable way to work with their children and achieve communication without a life-time of being held to unsustainable and unrealistic goals that ASHA supports with AAC devices and teaching that remains ignorant to this day on motor planning issues in those with autism. ASHA needs to educate itself into the research readily available on reasoning skills that enable TRUE expressive language, not rote button pushing such as “i want cookie”. As a parent, pediatric therapy owner and frequent collaborator with OTs, SLP,s BCBAs, and Special Educators who work every day with RPM students….your position represents nothing more than hubris (professional territorial fear that clouds the ability to be open minded). Can you hear the SLPs running away from ASHA now? Your position has emboldened RPM practitioners of all backgrounds to stand firm and hold their ethical values to the highest standard of providing what each individual needs. Bye ASHA.

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