Current Projects

Our most current research project is the IEP Research Study with an anticipated completion by June of 2016.

Invitation to Participate in a Research Study

The Institute on Communication and Inclusion (ICI) in Syracuse, NY and the Hussman Institute for Autism in Baltimore, MD are conducting a collaborative analysis of IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) of students with intellectual and developmental disability labels, including autism, who have complex communication needs who use, or may benefit from, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) in both New York and Maryland. We are looking for parents and students who are willing to provide us with access to current and past IEP documents, so that we can analyze the ways that communication supports are written into students’ academic plans.

This study aims to understand how support is constructed through IEPs in order to meet the school-based needs of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with complex communication needs who use, or may benefit from, AAC. We hope that our analysis will help to establish best practices for IEP writing around communication supports.

Master Trainer’s Research Project

Given that there are training standards for facilitators (Chadwick 1996), but not for trainers in facilitated communication, this study aims to fill the gap through an investigation into effective competencies and dispositions associated with being a trainer. The objective of the study is to identify qualities, skills, characteristics and competencies of highly effective trainers in the practice of supported typing. We are interested in how skilled facilitators/trainers describe their practice, how they approach and carry out their work, what are the central characteristics they develop as facilitators that could be taught and used for other facilitators in developing their skills and capacities as facilitators and trainers. It is anticipated that this study will help us to develop standards and training materials for future trainers and improvement of the practice in facilitated communication.

Lexical Analysis Research Project

The purpose of this research is to examine a corpus of texts produced by both FC users and their facilitators for lexical traits and patterns. For this purpose, we will collect written texts from participants who meet our research participant criteria and will analyze them in both quantitative and qualitative ways. For quantitative analysis, we will use lexical analysis software, as well as statistical methods. The results of this analysis will show whether or not the language patterns of Facilitated Communication users are different than those of their facilitators. In addition to the result of statistical analysis, qualitative analysis will help us to understand how the two groups use specific words in their written conversation, from their semantic and pragmatic aspects. In this process, their vocabulary (e.g. words frequently used in their written conversation) and its usage (e.g. the context and the way certain vocabulary are used) will be the main focus. This analysis will produce a conclusion about the authorship of individuals with disabilities who type to communicate.

Independence Research Project

Many individuals who once required intensive physical support are now demonstrating the ability type with no or limited physical touch and/or to read aloud their text during and after typing (Biklen & Burke, 2006; Broderick & Kasa-Hendrickson, 2001; Kasa-Hendrickson, Broderick & Biklen,2002; Kasa-Hendrickson, Broderick & Hanson,2009; Wurzburg, 2004). Recent research has identified several strategies that appear successful in supporting this move toward greater physical independence. This study seeks to build on that work and consider independence in multiple ways within the context of schools and societies. This study aims to understand how individuals who type to communicate work with their facilitators and trainers to develop greater physical independence and improvement of other typing skills during training sessions over a period of 4 months. We will utilize the Scale of Independent Typing to systematically observe changes in the individuals' levels of needed support. We will also analyze the videotaped training sessions. Further, we hope to develop materials and strategies that can be used consistently with multiple users and trainers.