Communication Unbound: How Facilitated Communication is Challenging Traditional Views of Autism and Ability-disability
Douglas biklen retirement tribute
Douglas Paul Biklen (born September 8, 1945) is an American educator best known for promoting the discredited technique of "facilitated communication", an augmentative and alternative communication technique for people with communication impairments, particularly autism.
Biklen learned of work of Rosemary Crossley and developed the theory of facilitated communication in Melbourne, Australia and exported it to the United States. According to this theory, some individuals whose communication is hindered by developmental coordination disorder can communicate with the aid of a facilitator, who supports the patient's hand while he or she types words on a keyboard. However, critics claim that what the client types is actually produced by the facilitator, and this has been demonstrated in numerous scientific publications. In all controlled studies where clients and facilitators are given different information, the client types the name of the object seen by the facilitator, not the clients; none of these studies have been reviewed by scientific parties in severe disabilities.
Biklen co-produced the 2004 film Autism Is a World, directed by Geraldine Wurzburg. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, but its positive portrayal of facilitated communication was criticised by autism researchers such as Gina Green of San Diego State University. Green stated that making a film without "even a hint, much less a disclosure" of the evidence against facilitated communication "is appalling". Biklen also produced the film My Classic Life as an Artist: A Portrait of Larry Bissonnette at Syracuse University.
Biklen has worked at Syracuse University since 1969 and founded the university's Facilitated Communication Institute in 1992. Following Burton Blatt as Dean, Biklen has been university leadership with the Center on Human Policy since its inception. In August 2005, Biklen became Dean of the School of Education. The appointment was criticised by the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health and by some members of the special education research community.
Biklen and his faculty have received support through scientific competitions such as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Biklen was also a founding member of the International Association of Persons with Severe Handicaps, which has organized special educators across the United States.