Read the PR Newswire release here. 

23 organizations call on ASHA to withdraw misguided recommendations on RPM and FC

WASHINGTONJuly 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — A diverse coalition of 23 civil and disability rights organizations has called on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to withdraw two proposed position statements that recommend against the further use of methodologies known as Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) and Facilitated Communication (FC). These innovative methods teach individuals with speech-related disabilities how to communicate independently by typing and pointing to letters on letterboards.

In a letter to the ASHA Board of Directors, the coalition argued, “If ASHA decides to finalize and place its imprimatur on the position statements, the consequences will almost certainly lead to civil rights violations. ASHA’s reputation as a credible and mainstream credentialing organization that supports the rights of individuals with disabilities would be threatened.”

In requesting that ASHA withdraw the flawed proposals, the coalition raised several substantive and procedural concerns, including that the recommendations:

  • may cause schools to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • are based on the unfounded and discriminatory presumption that people with speech-related disabilities are incapable of complex thought; and
  • were developed behind closed doors and without the input of any users, professionals, or ASHA members with experience with these methods.

Signing organizations include The Arc of the United States, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Burton Blatt Institute, Center for Public Representation, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inclusion International, the National Disability Rights Network, and TASH.

ASAN Executive Director Julia Bascom commented that “each non-speaking person has a right to use the method of communication that works best for them.” Bascom said the ASHA statements could “dramatically undermine the right of all people to the individualized supports they may need in order to communicate. Losing an effective form of communication can result in frustration, isolation, and trauma.”

Since being proposed on June 1, 2018, the ASHA position statements have sparked significant stakeholder concern and helped mobilize a parallel grassroots effort to vigorously support communication choice for non- speaking children and adults living with various neurological and motor disabilities, including autism. The resulting campaign is committed to defending every citizen’s right to access their preferred means of communication to express their thoughts. More information can be found at


Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Iowa)

About 200 people attend an annual conference at the University of Northern Iowa aimed at supporting parents, educators and others who communicate with non-speakers using augmentative communication including facilitated communication.

“What motivates us is how we can bring (different techniques) to our community. We all belong in the same world, and that’s what we believe in,” said Sarah Corkery, the board president of Inclusion Connection and a parent.

Read the article:

Tulane University (Louisiana)

Story about the 2018 graduation from Tulane University of Ben Alexander, a nonspeaking autistic student who was awarded a generous scholarship and majored in English and Jewish Studies. His father accompanied him to college to assist him with motor coordination.

“He said the father-son’s presence gave countless students, faculty and staff “the opportunity to grow and learn from Ben’s unique and thoughtful perspective” and also provided a roadmap for the growing number of students with autism-spectrum disorders who have since enrolled at Tulane. At the Newcomb-Tulane College Senior Awards Ceremony May 18, Ben received an award for outstanding accomplishment in Jewish Studies.”

Read more:

WGRZ-TV (New York)

Buffalo, New York NBC-TV-affiliate story about nonspeaking autistic 7th grader Reagan Fast, who is on the high honor roll at her local public school and whose dream is to study botany at UC Berkeley. Reagan communicates by typing on an iPad and by pointing to letters on a letterboard, which she learned to do through Rapid Prompting Method. She makes and sells knitted hats to help fund other autistic students’ learning of RPM.

“My life has been transformed from a life of being trapped in a body that is uncooperative and unpredictable, into a new life that gives me hope and a future of possibilities.”

Link to story and video (5:20):

Iowa Public Radio

“David James ‘DJ’ Savarese is a poet, prose writer, and recent alumni of Oberlin College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in Anthropology and Creative Writing. He is also autistic and nonspeaking. DJ shares his story through the new documentary Deej, which just received a Peabody Award and will be shown at the Julien Dubuque International Film festival on Saturday, April 28th. The documentary, which was produced by Savarese in partnership with Robert Rooy, follows him through high school and into college as he confronts society’s obstacles to inclusion and chases his dream of a college education.”

Link to story and audio file (30:55):

Ventura County Star (California)

Ten-year-old Camarillo, California author Diego Peña, who communicates by typing on an iPad and by pointing to letters on a letterboard, speaks at Ventura College for the 2018 Diversity in Culture Festival about his best-selling book on Amazon, Anatomy of Autism.

“It is the lifeline to love, friendship, needs and success,” said Diego through his talker. “It is my right as a person to always have communication, no matter how controversial it is.”

Link to story and video (0:56):

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation — Twenty-one-year-old California resident Ido Kedar says, “My mom and dad found me a teacher who taught me to type independently. Then it became really hard for the experts to refute. But it took time to get to this level of proficiency.”

Read the article: 

The Daily Cal (California)

Column in daily student newspaper of the University of California Berkeley by junior Hari Srinivasan about his journey to and experience at UC Berkeley so far as a nonspeaking autistic student, and that of fellow nonspeaking autistic student David Teplitz. Hari types to communicate, which he learned at the age of 13.

“Some of my academic accommodations include additional time for exams, use of a iPad (it’s my communication device), a laptop (I have no handwriting skills) and the use of specialized software such as MathType for my statistics and other math exams. I’m also given a notetaker for classes and allowed to take fewer courses every semester.”


The Daily Cal (California)

UC Berkeley student staff writer for The Daily Cal student newspaper, Hari Srinivasan, is nonspeaking and communicates by typing. In this piece, he explains his neurology and characterizes intelligence in terms of “input” and “output” systems.

“We autistics may yet surprise you, and we have a lot to contribute to society. I shouldn’t have had to wait for a chance meeting as a teen to lead me to communication. My special education teachers should have taught me typing instead of trying to restrict me to the dozen picture icons they decided I needed. Of course, other autism issues such as sensory dysregulation can make the act of typing itself hard. I am still a one-finger typer for the most part, and it took me a really long time to type out this one article.”


Time (Japan)

Time magazine interviews Naoki Higashida, author of The Reason I Jump and Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8, about what it is like to be a person with nonspeaking autism.

“My basic methods of communication are my letter board and computer. The letter-board method involves a card with the alphabet arranged in the QWERTY format. I point to individual letters and “voice” the letters as I touch them. I can also type on a computer keyboard, but I get stuck on or obsessed about certain letters.”