Background to my interest in teaching children with autism


Bart had been driving with the previously mentioned favourite neighbour as his passenger. In his rear-vision mirror, he noticed a truck about a half mile behind him. As they drove along, his neighbour dropped a cigarette and reached down to pick it up. Bart looked over to see what his neighbour was doing, and saw him rolling the retrieved cigarette ‘sensuously’ between his fingers. At that instant he felt a jolt. He was confused for a few moments. Then his neighbour asked, “What happened? Did you hit the curb?” Bart said he didn’t know. The car was stopped. He got out and walked behind the car to see if there was any damage. He saw a small crease in the rear bumper. He remembered nothing else, except that he had a vague awareness that his neighbour had ‘helped him’, until he visited the auto insurance offices the next day. At this point, he saw his car being towed in. Its rear-end was compressed right up to the back of the front seats.

He said he was told that his car had been hit by the truck, had been flung thirty feet through the air, and had come to rest in a snow bank. He was bothered by the fact that he could not remember the impact, the car flying through the air or the collision with the snow bank, and that, following the accident, he had only been able to observe a small crease in the back bumper.

Felicity was overjoyed with the account of the accident. His reaction only served to confirm Bart’s suspicion that Felicity was completely nuts. But what of its post-traumatic consequences? When asked, Bart could think of none. He did remember that his ‘helpful’ neighbour had seemed more irritable and difficult ever since the accident. He dated the accident by saying that it had happened about six years earlier, a year or so before his wife started drinking heavily. A broad smile grew across Felicity’s face. He slumped into his chair and stared thoughtfully at the bare wall above Bart’s head. His internal dialogue resembled most people’s thinking — conversation with one who will not listen.

Finally, he nodded emphatically and declared, “Got it. OK, let’s get to work on the treatment.” Bart’s face went completely blank with puzzlement. “Got what?” he stammered. “Would you care to share with me whatever is going on in that weird, so-called mind of yours?” The pyxie in him shone through and Felicity chuckled. “No,” he said, “I would not care to share it with you. But I think I now understand what happened and I feel ready to try a treatment programme with you. Rather than telling you what I’m thinking, and perhaps risk some sort of artificial change of a defensive nature taking place, I’d like to try a treatment and let us both find out what effect, if any, it has on how you feel.” Once reassured that the treatment could do no harm, Bart agreed to this proposal.

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