Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The first of a series of articles:
Still, the Wendrows had resolutely refused to believe testing that consistently showed [their daughter] functioned at the level of a 2-year-old and that in addition to being autistic, she was mentally retarded.

The Wendrows were introduced to [facilitated communication] in 2004 by Dr. Sandra McClennen, a retired education professor from Eastern Michigan University who had been working with their daughter for three years. She trained the girl to use FC, a highly controversial method through which autistic people are said to communicate using a keyboard, aided by another person.


The Tuesday morning after Thanksgiving break, [facilitator Cynthia] Scarsella asked how the weekend went.

Scarsella guided the girl's right hand over the specialized keyboard. She held her wrist as the girl, striking one letter at a time, typed out a message:

"My dad gets me up banges me and then we have breakfast. ... He puts his hands on my private parts."

Scarsella asked whether the girl's mother knew. She facilitated as the girl answered yes and typed:

"She doesn't say anything."

Scarsella immediately told Natalie Miller, the girl's teacher, who notified her supervisors. Michigan law requires school officials to report any credible allegation of sexual abuse to authorities.

Within hours, police, prosecutors and social workers were on the move.

Within two days, the children were wards of the state.

Within a week, the Wendrows were in jail.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Unholy Pinball Wizard, Baman!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

What a horrible story. The Wendrows are horrible for not coming to terms with the child's handicap, McClennen is horrible for peddling pseudoscience and false hope, and Scarsella is horrible for making a damning accusation.

Hopefully, the horror story will be resolved in such a way that the child will be harmed as little as possible.

Substance McGravitas said...

The Wendrows are horrible for not coming to terms with the child's handicap

This is a very understandable form of horribleness. The best of us sometimes hope for some recognition for our kinder acts, and it's gotta be hard doing everything for that kid if you're having to face up to the fact that there will never be meaningful acknowledgement of it.

I don't think I'd fall for facilitated communication if I were in their place, but it's got to represent a kind of parental promised land.

Kathleen said...

that was depressing.

Smut Clyde said...

It's not quite so depressing and angry-making when I realised that this happened in 2007, when Facilitated Communication was only 'discredited' rather than 'discredited, taken out the back, shot, buried, and dug up to be shot several more times'.

Still, there's a problem with any legal jurisdiction that puts people in prison on the basis of messages from a Ouija board.

mikey said...

So you're saying Anthony Weiner couldn't blame it all on facilitated communication?

Because that would seem quite plausible to me...