John Warburton

John Warburton

John was one of the Centre's earliest clients. His mother, Sue, brought him to us in 1986 when he was attending Yarrabar SDS (for children with IQs below 50).

John had dyspraxia and intention tremor. Once he had been introduced to an adapted communication device he rapidly developed fluent communication and moved to a regular secondary school.

In 1989 John passed the tests administered by the Investigation into the Reliability and Validity of the Assisted Communication Technique. He eventually graduated from Deakin University, majoring in Creative Writing. He won awards for his writing, which often showed his acute sense of humour.


This is a portrait of strange me.
I cannot draw, so you can see
I'll have to paint it all in words.
My eyes are blue, my hair is fair,
My type of speaking is quite rare,
A skinny weed I seem to be.

Inside I am a man of dreams -
Of fearless deeds and cunning schemes,
A handsome superman
In fact, when in a pensive mood,
I'm better far than Robin Hood
Or even Sherlock Holmes.

I'm Liberace on the keys
And white Shark Norman on the tees,
Jack Brabham in the car.
So when you meet me at the school
I may be Armstrong in the pool -
So look out for the


(Norman, Brabham, and Armstrong are Australian sporting heroes.)

And later


Sixteen years of super dreams
Have faded to reality -
No longer images of fame
Drift through my personality.
Once I loved to sit alone,
Dreaming I was flying high
Taking capsules to the moon,
Fighting Rambo! Now I sigh.

Each day I was like a super scout,
Making the world a better place,
Playing tennis just like Cash
In every game I held the ace.
Cached in my mind, a mighty fund
Of stories with myself as hero -
Now at last the sad truth dawns;
Down my hopes have gone to zero.
Here I am, a weakling lad.
What replaces all my dreams?
Earthbound, speechless, without friends,
A teenage misfit in blue jeans.

John had a genuine talent.

John featured in Communication Unbound, Doug Biklen's first article and book about facilitated communication, and in my book Facilitated Communication Training, under the alias Ian.

John and Sue remained in regular contact with the Centre regarding partner training and equipment upgrades.

Sadly, our friend John Warburton died unexpectedly in 2020.

As the news of John's death has spread, tributes have come from around Australia and the world, acclaiming him as a pioneer and an inspiration.

He will be much missed.

Chris Borthwick, February 2020

Anne McDonald Centre. 538 Dandenong Road, Caulfield 3162 Victoria, Australia Ph: 03 9509 6324, Fax: 03 9509 6321
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