"Facilitated communication (FC) is a process by which a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a communicatively impaired individual while using a keyboard or other devices with the aim of helping the individual to develop pointing skills and to communicate." (Wikipedia)
It is, to my knowledge, not commonly used in South Africa. It is very controversial, the main issue being just who is communicating, the communicatively impaired person or the facilitator? The danger of misrepresentation and even fraud (even if unconscious) by the facilitator is obvious. FC has in the main been rejected by professional organisations, including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
So, what's the harm? There have been numerous cases of false accusations by facilitators of physical and sexual abuse by parents or other care-givers. Were they actually communicating the intent of the disabled person, or injecting their own (twisted) opinions? The role of therapists in the false recovered memory scams are analogous.
That is exactly what happened in a case in Michigan , USA, as reported by Kim Wombles and Dr. James Todd in Science2.0, Facilitated Communication: A price too high to pay. I highly recommend reading the full article and the comments for a terrifying account of the damage created by a (probably) mentally disturbed facilitator, assisted by the vicious abuse of authority and lack of critical thinking skills by school staff, prosecutors and even the judge.
I quote just the first paragraph of Dr. Todd's account:
"I was one of the defense experts in the original criminal case against the Wendrows, along with Howard Shane, both of us testifying and consulting. It is hardly possible to describe how bizarre,vicious, and unjust the prosecution of the family was. In a rational world, accusations arising from facilitated communication would never be used in court. Facilitated accusations would summarily dismissed, and those who advanced them would be the ones in trouble. After more than a quarter century, there remains not a single methodologically sound study showing that FC has worked for a single individual. Dozens of studies have shown it reliably fails to produce genuine communication. The output is the facilitator's. That is what the science has shown--over and over. That's the reality of FC."This was not the only case of its kind.