Starting Down the Path to Independent Typing

“I believe we cannot isolate physical independence from the other two elements of facilitated communication – communication and emotional support. Although I am called an independent typer because I no longer need physical touch, I cannot walk into a room, and type without a facilitator. The facilitator must still provide communication and emotional support to allow the independent typing to happen.”
Sue Rubin, from a presentation in California, August 1999

Sujit Kurup on Independent Typing, ICI Workshop, October 2012

  • Independence is getting to attest my words as my own and have sense of ownership of my thoughts, as others around would acknowledge.
  • I feel rightful need to send out this message so none questions authorship of my words.
  • Very tough to find my rhythm and go out by myself. —But I felt the urgent need doing it (independent typing) by myself.
  • Scary but my real firm thought and determination and my mom’s support could set me to my goal.

What is Independent Typing?

  • Facilitated communication/supported typing is used:
    • With people with severe communication impairments
    • By persons with movement differences
  • Facilitated communication/supported typing involves:
    • Physical support
    • Emotional support
    • Communication support
  • Moving towards typing independently is fading the supports given till the individual is typing on their own.
  • Long-term goal of facilitated communication training.
  • Easiest way to achieve the goal is fading physical support.

Why Independent Typing?

  • Independent communication should be a goal of all FC users and thus take complete responsibility of their communication.
  • Helps in validating their communication.
  • Improves the FC users self-esteem and capability to do other skills independently.
  • Fading facilitation should be a goal for all facilitators.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]

When Should You Start Down the Path to Independent Typing?

  • Should begin at the time when the technique of supported typing is introduced; talk about independent typing as the ultimate goal.
  • Fading facilitation should begin soon after the FC user and facilitator have become comfortable using the technique and established in the process.
  • These include looking at the keyboard and a set rhythmic movement while typing.
  • FC user should be sufficiently motivated for it to succeed.

Important Elements of FC Training

  • Begin with more than one facilitator.
  • See independence as ongoing process.
  • Understand the role of movement
  • Facilitators and FC users collaborate to develop skill together.
  • Practice and establish a routine.
  • Recognize the importance of confidence – “Can Do” attitude.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]

Getting FC Training Started

  • Prepare a road-map to move towards independence in typing.
  • Have short-term goals and long-term goals.
  • Planning for this goal should involve the FC user and all their facilitators
  • FC user has to play an active role in the planning process, with their ideas and inputs.
  • Identify movement issues of the FC user and provide support to help overcome.
  • Therapies / strategies, including:
  • Determine the least amount of support a person needs for typing.
  • Find the base line before we can begin to fade back supporting with with least to most strategy.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]

FC Training Techniques for Success

  • Use routine, predictable information first such as name, address, date and set work activity.
  • Using iPad apps like ACT spell, Spelling zap, to help in independent pointing.
  • Regular practice is critical: Practice, Practice and more Practice!
  • Be patient, supportive and expectant.
  • Need thoughtful interaction and prodding.

Although independent typing should be the goal of every FC user, it may not entirely be feasible to everyone due to underlying neuro-motor issues like severe tremor, very low muscle tone etc. But even these highly impaired individuals could try independent pointing using the carpet board strategy developed by Rosemary Crossley and/or various iPad / Android apps.

It is important to always keep in mind that even though there will be numerous road blocks on the way – Never Give Up! Never Give Up! Never Give Up!

More information: Not So Fringe After All: Supported Typing as a Part of AAC, M. McSheehan, AAC Presentation at the 14th Annual Autism Summer Institute, Concord, NH., August 2012 (PDF opens in new window)

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]