Picture Exchange Communication System and Facilitated Communication: Contrasting an Evidence-Based Practice with a Discredited Method Chapter uri icon


  • Copyright 2016 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Learners with autism require specialized education and supports to ensure acquisition and mastery of various communication skills. This is particularly true for individuals whose disability significantly impacts their language development. Without functional communication, these individuals often engage in severe behavior, have reduced self-determination, and experience diminished quality of life. Accordingly, researchers in special education and related fields have sought ways to improve the communication skills of learners with autism who need specialized language and communication interventions. Although the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is well-established in the empirical literature and has helped countless individuals learn to communicate, the method known as facilitated communication (FC; which also is being called 'supported typing' and 'rapid prompting method') has become increasingly popular in recent years. Few methods in special education have been as thoroughly discredited as FC and perhaps none are as dangerous. This chapter contrasts the thoroughly debunked FC and its pseudoscientific characteristics with those underpinning PECS. A brief historical account of each method is provided along with key scientific and pseudoscientific features that distinguish science from pseudoscience. Ultimately, our intent is to further clarify how FC is not an augmentative or alternative communication method and why PECS is.

altmetric score

  • 4.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Travers, J. C., Tincani, M., Thompson, J. L., & Simpson, R. L.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Travers, Jason C||Tincani, Matt||Thompson, Julie L||Simpson, Richard L

Book Title

  • Instructional Practices with and without Empirical Validity

publication date

  • June 2016