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

Ingrid Liljeroth

Psychologist, senior lecture, assistant professor


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



Reflections about FC and the future in reseach: Can we act together?


These reflections are inspired by Giovanni Nicoli when I met him. He hoped that the conference should strengthen the relations and give possibilities to extend contacts within the FC-area. I think too, that it is necessary if we want to find freedom and acceptance.


The development of FC, facilitated communication, has since the beginning been followed by resistance. The experiences that FC led to were too far from the opinions of what a person with disabilities without speech could understand. They had a low IQ. I recognize this from my own experiences – as psychologist at a big institution, named Vipeholm, in Lund, Sweden. It was in the 1970-ies – a time with a polarization similar to what we see today.


There is now an unrealistic belief that science has answers that you can trust – give the Truth. Because of that science get a heavy role in forming attitudes. The role of science is to form knowledge of a defined area. Knowledge is however not static but in a continual process. Knowledge must be interpreted and transformed when used. Knowledge are not the same for two persons. It is dependent on the individual’s thinking and on the situation.


Nature is polar. There are always two poles, which explains the existence of polarization. In some periods one pole is in power and in others the other pole. We have difficulties to unite two sides. If we choose one pole we deny the other. But that pole is also alive and stores energy. After a period it will be strong enough to take a fight and be  heard.


Just now the evidence-based thinking has taken precedence of interpretation over the qualitative paradigm. Characteristic is simplification of thinking and “thought-pollution” (fake news?). Questions shall lead to “yes” or “no” or “right” or “wrong”. More complex areas are not given space. FC, facilitated communication, is a complex area. Most serious is that reality and the man are excluded. The communication in reality  works through individuals.


I was happy when I read the program of the conference and saw the name of Section 5: “Beyond the concepts of validation and underlying mechanisms”. Beyond is a first step to break the polarization. The polarized situation is no longer stable. In such a phase new openings will appear. We can take advantage of that process. Very much has been built up in the FC-area and a large number of FC-users all over the world have got new lives. A strength!


If we accept the phenomenon of polarity and begin to cooperate with both poles we can start a process that will be creative and give new inspiration. Important is that we are aware of the direction that Rosemary Crossley has followed since the 1970-ies. A new perspective where we cooperate with both poles can lead to a new paradigm. We can be stronger and leave the exposed situation. It will also strengthen FC and the FC-users who can find a role in society.


The program of the conference illustrates that FC is not an easy field to describe and explain on a level of wholeness. We will hear about message passing, linguistics, touch, eye-tracking, tests, social perception, independent thinking, FC-training etc. It is a complex field and belongs to different levels in the scientific hierarchy. If we want knowledge that can be used in the daily life we need many involved persons and we need to cooperate and respect different professional perspectives. Persons with disabilities are individuals but at the same time everybody have something in common as human beings.


I am dreaming of a total new paradigm – a creative paradigm where both poles have roles and the researchers dare to explore an unknown area without defining an expected result. We can start with an open question and curiosity. Last Monday was in Sweden the Nobel Day when the Nobel-laureates got their prices. I have since the 1970-ies  been interested in their thinking. Here is a summary of what good  research is for the laureates:


  • The research is built on visions and passion.
  • The researcher realizes that what you don’t see or what is not yet known can exist.
  • The researcher is guided by exploring and discovering, not by an imagined product.
  • Researcher dare to try and fail, try again etc.
  • Research demand openness and playfulness.


Since 2010 I have been engaged in a research project where I have been inspired of these points. I had just met FC and two FC-users with severe autism and without speech. One of them knew his intention of our meetings. He told me that we should plan research and that I should lead it. Really a surprising “order” and an unknown area! He had defined the research-question too: “You will never understand FC if you don’t understand the differences between your and our thinking.” It was impossible to express a protest. It was challenging but wonderful to get a really difficult task. Sometimes I feel that it is examination in the school of life. There were also practical problems. I live 430 km from where the FC-users live!


I had no idea of what they meant with differences so I didn’t know where to start. We tried different experiments but we saw that it didn’t give the material we needed to answer the question. I felt that I was drawn into a black hole. But I told myself that they must know something. That was a starting point. They could tell me so we started regular talks. We have just finished the empirical part. In seven years we have met regularly 4-6 times a year. Now we have records word by word of 33 talks, every-one 1.5 – 2 hours. I have analyzed the material continually but now I will describe, explain, interpret and give my reflections of what we now know. It is really an overwhelming experience. Next year I hope it will be a book.


The FC-users emphasize that their task is to let FC be a means for us to develop our thinking. My thinking has developed during this process.


If we will widen our knowledge we can use each other and all knowledge that has been developed on different areas and places around the world. It can be a genuine research to let all knowledge and experiences come together and form a new useful system of knowledge.

What are your reactions?