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FC in Sweden 2005 – 2018 – Experiences and Learning

Ingrid Liljeroth, Gothenburg, Sweden

Psychologist, senior lecture, assistant professor


From a conference in Reggio Emilia, Italy 15 – 16 of December 2018


If you enter something new you never know where you are going. FC, I think, has given many surprising experiences to all parts. Every experience does something with us. What happens can also contribute to new insights and knowledge. The question is Which? Here I will describe our way of learning.


2005 A mother of three sons with autism and without speech got in contact with FC. She learnt FC, started to facilitate and spread the knowledge and trained facilitators. It was in Järna south of Stockholm.


In 2009 FC came to Gothenburg. It resulted in a cooperation with secondary schools for pupils with severe intellectual disabilities and with some activities for grown-up adults. There are FC-users even in Umeå and on the island of Gotland.


In 2010 the Social authority got to know that FC was used in Sweden. They had information of the conflict and recommended that FC should not be used. They informed that they were going to do an investigation. We reacted and under pressure from us they at last, in 2011, arranged a meeting. One FC-user participated and showed that FC works and that he was intelligent. He wrote “We have an intelligent thinking but not an intelligent body.”


Learning: The authorities and we live in different worlds. They believed in tests and evidence. We saw the effects of FC in the individual and in the reality. The reason to the conflict was obvious.


Our decision: We continued to do what was possible but had to adapt – for example sometimes be careful in our reactions.


Late in 2013 we, in Gothenburg, published a study “On the threshold of another world. Facilitated communication in the development and identity of persons with disabilities” (in Swedish). We had followed the development of all FC-users during the first two years. It was ignored by authorities.


FC-users both in Järna and Gothenburg wanted to express knowledge that they saw that we had missed. One example is Joakim’s book LIFE ON EARTH translated to English that you can see here on the conference. There is also a film about Joakim.


2014: The Social authority published the “investigation” – an illustrative example of science when it is destructive. Example: The defined goal was to prove that FC was not valid. Their list of references contained 599 studies but they used only five 5 (0.8%) studies all of the same kind. It was really an obvious manipulation.


Learning: We got wonderful material useful in explaining the role of science and the consequences of lack of experiences and knowledge of the area of the research.


Late in 2014 the School Inspection took a new step and forbid FC in all schools in Sweden. They “trusted” the “investigation” and ignored our letters and trials to get into contact. Even our government and UN have been uninterested in our appeal.


It was shocking. Sweden is known as a country who struggle for human rights but can take a decision to forbid persons with disabilities to use the only form of communication that works for them. When the pupils came back to school after Christmas holiday they were told that they may not write anymore.


Learning and goal: We began to analyze the process. We got an answer: It is possible because we have got an organization based on the same principles as Germany when The state went from democracy to dictatorship  in the 1930th – New Public Management, NPM. A new area to penetrate!


Such an unusual situation called upon the attention of media. They supported the decisions. You can imagine what happens then. During a long period our energy had to be used to meet the reactions with threats, depreciating and anxiety.


2012 -….  Parallel to these processes we have strived for widening our knowledge and experiences in different ways. Since 2012 we have a research project initiated by a FC-user. He formulated a research question ““You will never understand FC if you don’t understand the differences between your and our thinking” and told me to lead it. Our method is regular talks. We have met 33 times during 1.5 – 2 hours during seven years and talked about the thinking and its consequences. The content give possibilities to relate to the processes we have gone through since the start of FC In Sweden.


Conclusions: We have experienced much and become more conscious of the society and the effects of thought patterns. FC has a capacity to open fields that can give many important insights. There our efforts are now. Important is the FC-users as co-workers. We have learnt that they have insights that we lack. They can give important contributions to a better world. I will finish with a question: What is the meaning of disabilities in the society? Perhaps FC can give us an answer!