Before allowing a child who has alleged that he or she has been abused to testify at trial, a judge must be satisfied that the child is competent. In other words, the judge must find that the child has the ability to "observe, record, recollect and recount as well as an understanding of the duty to tell the truth." Determining whether children with certain developmental disorders are competent to testify has recently presented the courts with some difficult issues, as evidenced by a recent case in which the Supreme Court of Kansas upheld a conviction based primarily on the apparent testimony of a nonverbal, nonexpressive child.
James F. Watson,
The Use of Facilitated Communication in Child Abuse Prosecutions,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol31/iss2/5