December 1994

Evaluations of Children Who Have Disclosed Sexual Abuse via Facilitated Communication

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse. Ms Babuts is now a student at the University of Rochester (NY) Medical Center.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(12):1282-1287. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170120044007

Objective:  To review the findings of interdisciplinary team evaluations of children who disclosed sexual abuse via facilitated communication.

Design:  Case series.

Setting:  Tertiary care hospital outpatient child sexual abuse program in central New York.

Patients:  Between January 1990 and March 1993, 13 children who disclosed sexual abuse via facilitated communication and were referred to a university hospital child abuse referral and evaluation center. The range of previously determined developmental diagnoses included mental retardation, speech delay, and autism.

Interventions:  None.

Main Outcome Measures:  Medical records were reviewed for (1) disclosure, (2) physical evidence, (3) child's behavioral and medical history, (4) disclosures by siblings, (5) perpetrator's confession, (6) child protective services determinations, and (7) court findings.

Results:  Four children had evidence of sexual abuse: two had physical findings consistent with sexual abuse, one also disclosed the allegation verbally, and one perpetrator confessed.

Conclusions:  These results neither support nor refute validation of facilitated communication. However, many children had other evidence of sexual abuse, suggesting that each child's case should be evaluated without bias.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:1282-1287)