Background to my interest in teaching children with autism


            As Alton departed from his last follow‑up interview, Felicity felt the now accustomed sense of loss as a friend moved on to take up his life without Felicity.  Nor was there now anybody to whom Felicity might sum up his solution to the mystery Alton had presented.  Felicity was not surprised that a person could react defensively by reducing his level of consciousness to drift toward sleep in order to protect himself from thoughts of or exposure to dirt – a pervasive environmental stimulus.  Although none were known to have adopted Alton’s ‘homosexual’ solution, he had seen many people who reacted in that sleepy way in the past.  Indeed, a colleague and he had elevated to a diagnostic procedure the use of muscle relaxation followed by simple presentations of dirt stimuli.  They used it as a means by which to verify psychogenic narcolepsy in droopy-eyed people, whose appearance was reminiscent of the baggy-eyed and sleepy cartoon character Henry Chickenhawk.  Neither did Felicity harbour any serious doubts that deconditioning Alton’s fear of dirt would simply make unnecessary the narcoleptic response.  This, in turn, would no longer make it necessary for Alton to create ‘shocking` homosexual remarks and behaviour so that others’ reactions could keep him from drifting lethewards [i.e., towards lethargy]. 

            But Felicity was vaguely troubled.  He wondered whether Alton was unique, and whether any other person would ever react as Alton had in adopting homosexuality as a way to cope with narcolepsy.  Perhaps, he thought, this strange event is simply another example of the truism that everybody is different and entirely unique.

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