Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
Actually, several things of note happened. First, neither of the Pain Analog Measures (quality/pitch or intensity/volume) showed any consistent changes until the middle of the second anxiety-relief conditioning procedure, except that they rose before each tantrum and fell after each tantrum. About midway through the second anxiety-relief conditioning (using the left hand and the ‘Left’ signal), both the sharpness (pitch) and the intensity (volume) of the pain being recorded on the PAM started to decline on average. Even when a tantrum was imminent, the PAM measures tended to be lower than they had been, presumably indicating that she was experiencing less pain as the ‘pain focused’ (left hand) anxiety-relief conditioning was proceeding. Of course, the pain may have come from somewhere else other than her hand.
Second, as if to confirm that Sadie was experiencing at least some pain (perhaps from phantom digits) in her left hand, during early sessions of the second (but not the first) anxiety-relief conditioning programme (when the shock stimulus was connected to her left hand) she threw a tantrum while she was connected to the electrodes and undergoing the procedure. This happened not once, but on seven of the first twelve sessions – and each time her violent actions narrowly missed destroying Felicity’s much cherished $30 shock box. Apparently, the shock stimulation was being experienced by her as painful (as well as anxiety-provoking) when it was stimulating her left hand, suggesting that at least some of the pain she was recording on the PAM may have been from that site.
Third, the frequency and the intensity of her tantrums, as recorded by the ward staff, started to decline shortly after half way through the second (left hand) anxiety-relief conditioning procedure, although they had continued at a fairly constant rate and intensity up until that time. By the end of the second set of twenty anxiety-relief conditioning sessions, the tantrums had become quite manageable, and their frequency was down to about one every four or five days.
Unfortunately, this story does not have a satisfactory conclusion. Felicity went on a vacation for a month starting about two weeks after completion of the second anxiety-relief conditioning procedure. When he returned, he was busy for a couple more weeks with other duties and so he did not follow-up on Sadie’s condition. When he finally got around to checking up on her, he was told only that she had recovered and had been discharged from the hospital. Work demands and other staff vacations interfered, and so he never did get around to finding out just what had changed in her condition, how it had changed, or on what basis the psychiatric staff had concluded that Sadie had recovered.

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