Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

Diversity in Autism Learning Profiles – Being a Non-Visual Learner – PECS – Why That Wouldn’t Work For Me (But Can Work For Others) on the Autism Spectrum


Me at 6 Months Old With My Teddy

Me at 6 Months Old With My Teddy


Note – This is personal to my profile all profile are different on the Autism spectrum

Looking back at my learning profile at school, I lived in a world of visual fragmentation and word blindness, seeing things in pieces not wholes –  form agnosia, prosopagnosia, simultagnosia, semantic agnosia & visual – verbal agnosias this also meant I didn’t have visual memory. Early signs of this was where in my photo to the left appearing cross-eyed, lack of spacial awareness from an early age, not understanding visual contexts (running into the sea with clothes on), drawing by route and touching my enviroment.


Damage to the posterior parietal cortex causes a number of spatial disorders including:

  • Simultanagnosia: where the patient can only describe single objects without the ability to perceive it as a component of a set of details or objects in a context (as in a scenario, e.g. the forest for the trees).
  • Optic ataxia: where the patient can’t use visuospatial information to guide arm movements.
  • Hemispatial neglect: where the patient is unaware of the contralesional half of space (that is, they are unaware of things in their left field of view and focus only on objects in the right field of view; or appear unaware of things in one field of view when they perceive them in the other). For example, a person with this disorder may draw a clock, and then label it from 12, 1, 2, …, 6, but then stop and consider their drawing complete.
  • Akinetopsia: inability to perceive motion.
  • Apraxia: inability to produce discretionary or volitional movement in the absence of muscular disorders.


PECS wouldn’t have helped me piece things to together in context and I certainly wouldn’t of seen it as a functional tool I would seen the card in bits and pieces and being mono-tracked I would have had three pieces of communication to deal with

  1. The cardholders voice  – Would have been jumbled
  2. Picture – Would have been fragmented and therefore no meaning nor context would have been made
  3. Word/s – Jumbled and distorted due to dyslexia and visual-verbal agnosia


I learnt best by touch – touch meant connecting, communicating and integrating, touch was more meaningful than the jumbling of too many words (written or expressed). This is how it worked for me. 🙂

  1. Sensory Exploring – touching, licking, sniffing, rubbing, mouthing
  2. Sound Exploring – checking the phonics and depth of sound, through touch and echolalia
  3. Environmental Connecting – “Mapping out surroundings” by using a kinesthetic system

Remember all learning profiles are a diverse as the communication profiles and sometimes they both inter-relate and connect.

Paul Isaacs 2014



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

3 thoughts on “Diversity in Autism Learning Profiles – Being a Non-Visual Learner – PECS – Why That Wouldn’t Work For Me (But Can Work For Others) on the Autism Spectrum

  1. Paul I have dyslexia too and irlen I got assessments on Tuesday But I am scared about them . I really need the help that I need but I hate assessments .

    • Dear Jennifer – The Irlen Assessment is based on your profile so they will got through the spectrum of colours that will suit your processing and use – sentences, numbers, visuals etc you tell them what is best 🙂 You will be fine. 🙂 Kindest regards Paul

  2. Pingback: If I Wasn’t A Person First Then What Would I be? | Paul Isaacs' Blog

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