Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
The fog cleared when Felicity remembered Quirk’s observations about slide change working as a reinforcer to train GSR increases. He noticed that he was changing the slides only when the GSR had recovered and was rising. Was it possible that the act of slide change, being made contingent upon successive GSR increases, was serving as a reinforcement or reward to train the GSR in the ‘comfortable’ (upwards, less sweat) direction? Was he actively training desensitization? Only time would tell. He almost felt annoyed at Sally for making it necessary for him to think.
He was sure there had been no therapeutic benefit from the first dozen or so sessions during which he had been trying to get her to relax, had been trying out imaginal presentations and then had been trying out the use of pictorial slides – all with a remarkable lack of success. Now, as he persisted blindly in this simple exercise of asking her to sit still and watch the slides while he changed the slides for each successive 1,000 ohms of GSR increase, he began to notice and to hear about changes in Sally’s clinical condition. She seemed to be recovering from her schizophrenic symptoms. Surely this could not be merely a random or temporary fluctuation in her psychotic state. She had been a resident of the hospital for some fifteen years without any record of any noteworthy variation in her condition.
Sally and Felicity completed about thirty-five of these GSR and slide change sessions together. Felicity had met with her for only half-hour sessions from the start, fearing he would not be able to maintain her attention for longer intervals of time. After these thirty-five half-hour sessions, Felicity was absent from the hospital for about two weeks on vacation. When he returned, the nurse asked him to see Sally to find out what was wrong. She seemed very different from the other patients. When seen, Sally was lively, vivacious and normally responsive. She exhibited a good range of emotional responses and no thought disorder.

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