Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
An Unforesightful Foresight
In his early twenties, Ulric was referred for anti anxiety treatment because of an agoraphobic reaction. He felt extremely fearful that some catastrophic event would occur if he was alone, particularly in driving anywhere. His family was exceedingly closely knit, and the family members had adjusted their schedules to make it possible for one of them to drive him wherever he had to go, and to be at home when he was there. The onset of these symptoms dated from an occasion when he was driving alone and experienced a panic attack for no apparent reason. He stopped the car and he got out of it for a few minutes until he had settled down. Thereafter, he feared being alone in the car, or being alone anywhere.
At the first contact, in addition to the administration of a standard battery of tests, a subjective units monitoring device (SURE) was administered to Ulric. This monitoring instrument was administered just before each treatment session throughout the course of treatment. The treatment which was undertaken was systematic anxiety desensitization (using Wolpe’s reciprocal inhibition therapy method). There were twenty-one hour long sessions in the treatment programme, mostly concerned with imagery progressively increasing his independent action, especially in driving, and increasingly while alone.
The monitoring instrument employed amounted to an extension of Wolpe’s method for estimating anxiety on the Subjective Units of Discomfort (SUD) scale. In this method, the person is asked to remember that circumstance in life in which he/she felt the most anxious, uptight and scared ever, and to assign to the feeling experienced in that situation the value of 100. The person is then asked to remember that circumstance in life in which he/she felt the most calm, relaxed and at ease ever, and to assign the feeling experienced in that situation the value 0. The person is then asked to divide up the subjective or felt distance between these two points into a hundred equal units, and then to estimate on that scale how he/she feels now. At all future subjective rating times, the person is asked to maintain the same standard 0 and 100 reference points or situations.

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