GBH Openvault

FRONTLINE; Prisoners of Silence


(UPDATED 12/21/94)

License Clip

This program cannot be made available on Open Vault.

More material may be available from this program at the GBH Archives. If you would like research access to the collection at GBH, please email

Prisoners of Silence
Program Number


Series Description

Premiered January 1983 Since January 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's - PBS - flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its television broadcast debut as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 23 years is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience. Series release date: 1/1983

Program Description

Facilitated Communication (FC) has been heralded as a breakthrough technique for nonverbal people with autism. The method uses a helper to control the involuntary movements of an autistic person's hand, allowing that person to type his or her thoughts on a keyboard. Thousands of people have begun using FC, but many scientists reject FC as simply not real and believe that it is the facilitator who is unknowingly controlling the hand of the autistic individual. This program presents a comprehensive investigation of this controversial technique, interviewing the leaders of the FC movement, scientists, facilitators and parents of autistic children and raises tough questions about the implications of its use for people with autism and their families.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Public Affairs
Chicago: “FRONTLINE; Prisoners of Silence,” 10/19/1993, GBH Archives, accessed December 8, 2023,
MLA: “FRONTLINE; Prisoners of Silence.” 10/19/1993. GBH Archives. Web. December 8, 2023. <>.
APA: FRONTLINE; Prisoners of Silence. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.