Background to my interest in teaching children with autism


With surprising suddenness, the noise and activity stopped. She was quiet for about a minute. Then she started to laugh. Felicity let her get up. She was almost doubled up with laughter for a full five minutes. Hearing this, the psychiatrist entered the room. Rachel looked back and forth at her two doctors, pointing at each in turn and laughing uproariously. They joined in the mirth. Finally, Rachel’s laughter subsided. Through sporadic giggles, she thanked both Felicity and the psychiatrist, gave them each a warm hug and asked if she could now go for supper. It was agreed that was a superior idea and, arms linked, the three of them sauntered off to the dining room.

Rachel was presented at conference the following week and was discharged as recovered. It’s true that she was re-admitted periodically after that to the hospital. However, there were no re-admissions for slightly over a year, and each admission after this ‘treatment’ was for a brief few days ‘for a rest’. Each time, when she was ready to conclude her ‘rest’ cure, she would make contact with Felicity or her psychiatrist. As soon as she met either one of them, without other words, the two together would break into gales of laughter for a few minutes. Rachel would then affirm that she was now ready to be discharged.

Was this a treatment for anything? Felicity certainly wouldn’t affirm it wasn’t. On the contrary, he took to referring to this incident under the title of Mis-Treatment Therapy, or the M-T (empty?) Therapy. He was grateful to Rachel for her good-natured response to his attempt to get her angry at two people who were ‘important’ to her so that she could discover it was not necessary to be ‘nice’ and ‘clinging’ in order to have people like her. From Felicity’s perspective, the important indicator of therapeutic benefit was her laughter, by which she seemed able to dispel her depressions.

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