The ACC-sponsored conference Many Faces of Abuse (Auckland, 10-12 August 2005) features a plenary speaker, Anne McDonald from Melbourne, who cannot talk, walk or feed herself. Her minder, Rosemary Crossley, is the inventor of Facilitated Communication – a technique whereby a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a severely disabled person and thereby enables that person point to letters of the alphabet. This technique gives severely disabled people the miraculous ability to spell out words, sentences and even whole paragraphs of astonishing, unlikely and often wildly pornographic prose. As a result of Facilitated Communication, hundreds of families and caregivers worldwide have had their lives and careers destroyed by devastating and subsequently-discredited allegations of sexual abuse. Among responsible organisations and individuals concerned with mental and physical disability there is now widespread agreement that Facilitated Communication is nothing more than a powertrip for manipulative therapists who prey on the vulnerability and dependence of the severely disabled.
In the US, in an unprecedented move, several major national professional bodies have adopted a formal position opposing the acceptance of Facilitated Communication as a valid mode of enhancing expression for people with disabilities. In the UK Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the High Court Family Division, condemned Facilitated Communication as dangerous and declared that it should not be used by British courts to support or reject allegations of abuse.
Two of the other plenary speakers at the Many Faces of Abuse conference, Jo Massarelli and Marc Tumeinski, are followers of Wolf Wolfensberger of Syracuse University. Wolfensberger is a Jewish Holocaust survivor turned born-again Christian who claims that the medical profession is now killing more handicapped people per year than the Nazis did between 1939 and 1945.
For conference details see: