When I started visiting my brother more regularly, I tried to think of what I could do to help. Mike is low functioning, autistic and nonverbal, so he cannot contribute much to his own care. The only evidence of how he feels is through his behavior. I had been thinking about making a catalog of his facial expressions to try correlating them with his emotions, but there was not enough evidence to determine which expressions went with which emotions. In an earlier post I discussed the idea of the universality of facial expressions (first explored in man and animals by Charles Darwin in 1872, and more recently by Paul Ekman, in his studies about micro expressions.)
One of the subjects of Michael’s periodic medical reviews was his self-harming behavior, consisting of biting himself, slapping his head and slamming his arm into his chest. Since doctors thought that he had a form of Tourette Syndrome, an obsessive compulsive disorder, behavioral conditioning would not be appropriate. His psychiatric treatment included a change in his medication to extinguish this behavior.
Since success of the medication change depended on whether his self-harming would continue, I thought that a video record of his behaviors would be a step in the right direction. Below is my proposal to his group home management.
No action was taken on my proposal, but I think a lot could have been learned about my brother’s behavior had some kind of record been made.