Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

Once all of her major ‘negative’ or ‘avoidant’ values were ‘healed’ in this way, Felicity asked Mary to list her values all over again. This time, he did not give her any help other than a page of blank lines for each area of living (that is, work, living, relationships and feelings). None of the values she now listed seemed to be in the ‘negative’, ‘avoiding’ or ‘away from’ form, and none seemed to contain hidden conflicts.

To check on this, Felicity asked Mary to imagine herself possessed, each in turn, of a job, a life, a relationship and feelings in which the first six of her values for the area were present. With each area, her faced flushed, a grin of self-satisfaction and pleasure spread across her face, she nodded emphatically, her chin lifted a bit and her posture seemed to straighten. Felicity thought that the traces of lines in her face also smoothed out. While thinking of having her first half dozen values in a couple of areas she even giggled a little. Felicity was pleased. But he wasn’t quite satisfied.

When Mary was thinking about having a job in which she had the first six values she had listed, in addition to these reactions, there was also a slight frown of puzzlement. He asked her why. She said it was just that she couldn’t quite figure out how she could have a job in which she could feel busy and useful, and in which she could also feel relaxed and peaceful. She had placed these two values at positions three and four, respectively. Felicity said he understood the problem and she could probably fix it if she wanted to. She said she did.

Before doing that, however, Felicity asked her to look over her lists of values again carefully. Were these the values she ‘wanted to have’ as her values, or were there others she would prefer to have in addition to or in place of any of them – using any principles she wanted to use to make that determination. She examined the lists thoughtfully. She thought her life would be ‘better’ and happier for her if she was a little more ‘thoughtful’ or ‘considerate’ of others. This value was in ninth place in her list in the area of ‘living’. She was asked whether she felt it was properly placed at the ninth rank. She affirmed that it was, at least the way she felt now, but she still felt it ‘ought’ to be higher. Felicity asked her at what rank position she thought it ‘ought’ to be placed. She thought it ought to come fourth. Felicity pointed out that would mean that her fourth value, ‘assertiveness and courage’ would come fifth, that ‘sharing activities with others’ would then come sixth, and that ‘enjoying teasing others’ would slide to seventh place. Is that how she felt the list ‘ought’ to be? She cocked her head thoughtfully, nodded firmly and gave a definite ‘yes’.

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