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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Failure and Success in the Psychotherapy of Autistic Children

The aloofness noted in autistic children often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when their therapist considers it a given, something amenable only to simplistic reward/punishment behavior modification techniques. But the autistic child does have relationships though these are inadequate and require nurturing through play therapy.

No special techniques are required since the basic difficulty of autistic children is communication and play is the primary language in conducting psychotherapy with children. Thus, autistic children must be related to individually with their aloofness not being taken as a rejection of interpersonal contact but merely their inadequacy at it. A recent study found that most infants, who had communication difficulties associated with autism in their second year of life, were later no longer diagnosable as autistic when their mothers were given early intense instruction in communicating with them.

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