Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy Apart of my Autism Fruit Salad? D.Williams

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Certainly one to consider as part of my “Fruit Salad” I have also always been “stiff legged” so hypotonia in both my legs and middle/trunk of my body, issues with sports, holding cutlery, Apraxia of speech means I do have a monotone voice at times which is loud – with unusual inflection, slow eyes/mismatched eye movements also to do with Visual agnosias and eye darting/flickering. Interesting.  This also overlaps with Visuospatial dysgnosia and Dyslexia. Also Cerebral Hypoxia at birth kind of makes sense to me. The more you learn the more you understand. 🙂 

ATAXIC CEREBRAL PALSY – OVERVIEW – copyright from cerebral palsy alliance 

What causes ataxia?

Ataxia results from damage to the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the balance centre of the brain. The cerebellum fine-tunes movement commands in order to compensate for whatever posture is being used. It also accounts for the various forces being generated by different parts of the body.
What does ataxia look like?
Ataxia can affect any part of the body and impact upon the movements required to do many day-to-day activities.
It can affect a person’s legs, arms, hands, fingers, speech, eye movements and even muscles involved in swallowing.
Effect on the upper limbs (arms and hands)
When ataxia affects the arms and hands it may cause a tremor or shakiness due to the over-correction of inaccurate movements – this means that when a person reaches for an object, they overshoot the target.
It also results in difficulty performing tasks requiring precise finger movements such as handwriting or using cutlery, or movements that require regular repetition such as clapping.
Effect on the lower limbs (legs)
When ataxia affects walking, a person is unstable and likely to fall. As a result, the person usually walks with the feet spread further apart than the hips, which is known as a ‘wide-base gait’. This is done to try to compensate for their instability and poor balance.
This way of walking can sometimes give the mistaken impression that the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because their balance is affected, the person may also fall without reason, or be unable to compensate for variations in the ground surfaces or an accidental mild bump from the side.
Effect on speech and swallowing
Ataxia may have an affect on speech and swallowing. When ataxia affects speech, it is sometimes called ‘scanning’ speech – the person uses a monotone voice with a breathy sound; sometimes there are unusual accelerations or pauses between their syllables.
Effect on the eyes
Ataxia may sometimes cause slow eye movements. When ataxia affects the eyes, if the person attempts to change their eye-gaze quickly, their eyes often miss the target. It is like the eye’s overshoot or underestimate their mark and then have to make ‘catch-up’ movements.

Author: Paul Isaacs

Paul was branded as a “naughty & difficult child” at school. He was classically autistic and non-verbal due to speech articulation difficulties. He had complex sensory issues and appeared both deaf and blind. He gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through the mainstream school system with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem. At age 11, Paul was referred to the children’s mental health service with childhood depression where he was regarded as “developmentally underage” and having speech problems. As an adult, Paul had a string of unsuccessful jobs, and his mental health suffered. He developed both Borderline and Schizotypal Personality Disorders in early 2007. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy Paul or his family. A local autism organisation put Paul in touch with an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Autism at 24 years old. In 2012 Paul was also diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome by an Irlen Consultant who confirmed that he also had face, object and meaning blindness – conditions which Paul describes eloquently in his speeches and training sessions. He also has dyslexia, dyscalculia and also a dissociative disorder. Having started working as an local autism organisation as a public speaker in 2010, Paul joined their mission to promote autism awareness. His hope is that others will not have to suffer as he did. Now also a core member of our Training Team, Paul continues to enhance true understanding of autism at every opportunity. Paul has released and published 5 books on the subject of autism published by Chipmunka publishing and has contributed to other books too. Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society. Apart from autism related blogs Paul also write about movies, fashion, art and anything that is of interest. As of August 2015 Paul now works as a freelance speaker, training and consultant in and around the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire area. If you are interested please contact him via email at

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