"Voices from Silence is an extraordinary book about a contentious subject. Mary Craig's family life has been shaped by the birth of two severely handicapped sons. Her earlier book, 'Blessings' brilliantly charted her long and arduous journey to make some sense of this painful fact. The birth of two other normal and bright sons, Anthony and Mark, a supportive husband, Frank, and considerable success as a writer and journalist did much to move her on from this central core of sadness. In the event, Paul, the eldest handicapped child was to die aged ten. Nick, born with Down's syndrome is now an adult and loved and accepted by the whole family. With this apparent happy status quo finally reached, it must have been with some consternation that Mary learnt, almost by chance, that there might be more to Nick's own capabilities – and indeed personality – than she had ever suspected. And the point of entry to this other dimension was called Facilitated Communication.

FC appears, from Mary's lucid and impartial account, be proposing something completely revolutionary. We are used to the idea of physically handicapped people learning to read and write through various teaching aids. Facilitated Communication advances the startling claim that our concept of mental handicap may be entirely wrong – that there may not always be mental handicap. Rather, there may be a simple lack of muscle tone or ability to hold a pencil. This lack of communication skills may have led carers to assume there is no desire to communicate at all. Nick's own attempts at Facilitated Communication, with the aid of a trained FC facilitator, have proved this statement to be dramatically wrong. Now in his late forties and never having received any formal education, he has responded hungrily to the experience of having his hand supported whilst he spells out words on a letter board. Reading over what he has dictated is a humbling and almost shocking experience – he makes us aware of a subtle and reflective intelligence working within him whilst being resigned to a life without a meaningful voice. It throws a heartbreaking light on those apparently mentally handicapped condemned to perpetual silence.

Mary takes us through the complicated narrative that is the turbulent history of FC. Her transparently honest account has one simple purpose and plea – that people should consider the evidence of this communication method, however startling, before condemning it out of hand and denying a large group of people a chance of finding their own voice. An engaging, absorbing, sometimes heartbreaking but always beautifully written and balanced book."

Frances Donnelly, Broadcaster and Novelist


"This is a beautifully written and illuminating book on a moving subject."

Paul Johnson, Historian, Writer and Journalist


"An engrossing, illuminating and moving investigation of the struggle to free minds, locked behind walls of silence. I found it extremely absorbing."

Professor John Carey, Literary critic of the Sunday Times


"Voices from Silence may be controversial, but the history, development and current situation of FC needed to be heard. For me, FC was about both frustration and freedom. Frustration because it's such a battle, it doesn't always do what people hope it will and it isn't a cure. But for me, this was far outweighed by the enormous freedom people felt being able to express themselves for the very first time on matters that were vitally important to them. It is as much about physical freedom as it is about spiritual and emotional freedom."

Canon Roger Royle


"This is an important book and an important issue."

Reverend Angela Tilby, Vicar St Benet, Cambridge, Broadcaster and Journalist


"Brilliantly written and most moving and enlightening... our children are too important to be denied this hope of a voice."

Reverend Bernard Doyle, Former principal of Christ's College Liverpool


"This is a persuasive and powerfully written book... a moving and memorable story but so much more than a story. I hope a lot of people read it, because it could mean so much to people who long for tongues and fingers and minds to be unlocked."

Canon David Winter, Broadcaster and Writer


"This is a wonderful book, full of deep human interest and compassion as well as providing some fascinating narratives."

Professor Terry Eagleton, University of Lancaster


"I found the whole story fascinating; it makes it very clear how much more we have to learn about the human mind and this book will do so much to help more understanding."

Rachel Billington, Novelist and Broadcaster


"To be a sufferer from autism is rather like spending the whole of your life in total imprisonment. Even that is not a perfect analogy because prisoners have hope of escape whereas so many who suffer from the problem have little hope of being relieved of their troubles. Mary Craig has produced an excellent book which will be of help to those who are confronted with this disorder. She has made considerable strides in providing new patterns of communication for autistic people who are speechless and I commend this book and her work without reserve."

Terry Waite, Churchman, Writer and Broadcaster

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