Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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What is Achievement?

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Do you judge achievement by the vastness of comparisons or by the person cantered nature of what has been achieved? I have not married nor have I the desired to have children. I ask how is my life welling up with fullness and ethereal walkings amongst the populous of humanity? Because I am comfortable in the roads, paths and darkly forests that tread beneath my feet. I think “achievement” is not what, if or how it’s the reason and honest virtues behind them that make them special and worthy.

Paul Isaacs 2017

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“Doing” vs. “Being”

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“Doing” in its extreme form can consist of over-thinking, over worrying, over-analysing losing grounded functioning and not being pre-occupied with too many things at once denying at times what is right in front of you tentative steps to be taken in the overburdens mind that consist of unwanted thoughts that sometimes never let on to being silenced. I am sure that that wanting to be a “be-er” may consist of flattening thoughts.

“Being” in its extreme form can be pre-occupied with the moment feelings of floating, connection to the situation with yourself, having an inner world to eagerly retreat to that consists of many colours, patterns, shapes and shine being jolted into to “doing” and conscious thought may well be difficult but can be achieved.

None of these things are distraction or detraction of cognitive skills although quirky and paradox like presentations may resume.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Wretches & Jabberers DVD – A Journey Into Autism

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A moving and delightful movie and about two men on the autism spectrum who are both “functionally non-verbal” finding their voices through facilitated and typed communication. Debunking the myths that people who cannot speak with their mouths are “retarded” or “intellectually disabled”.

Tracy and Larry are best of friends and their passion for advocacy leads them to meeting others around the globe who are also yearning and fondly sharing their experiences and voices with a wider audience, showing great empathy, compassion, introspection and deepness through the words that they write to a wider audience. Bringing people into their world and inviting others to think, reflect and reevaluate what “autism” and “intelligence” even look like.  Showing great feats of creativity.

There is warmth, humour, sadness and hope sometimes all at once when listening the candid words and hopefully the viewer will come out of this experience with greater level of acceptance and make less assumptions about what is going on on the “inside”. Please all presume competence.

I highly recommend this DVD.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism As A Describer Not a Definer – Combating “Label Lust” and “Overidentification”

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I have been an autism and advocate for over seven years I have seen many autism “fruit salads” in my time some people with auto-immune problems, other with complex mental health issues, others who see their autism as a curse, others who see their autism as special and unique, others who identify as their whole being as “autistic” others who don’t. I have seen militancy and anger towards people who go against old rhetoric who propose realism as opposed to glamorisation, people should allowed to give their own perspective from different angles, perspectives and offering multiple realities. 

Differing Profiles

With all the the “pieces” I describe in my training sessions and/or presentations are “describing” words the reality for that person will differ from “piece to piece” however that “piece” will have its own name and describing it allows the people understand a fragment of it albeit from a personal and/or observational perspective. Its hard to get the balance right but it is worth it.

Definition vs Describing vs Identification 

It isn’t defining people by the labels offered which is from an educational, resource perspective and even a self-reflective perspective. It is offering a window of what could be going on. I am not the speaker for all (never have been) but I put the questions out there.

 

Human Beings First

If we (as human beings) all defined ourselves by a set of labels it would be rather reductive and in reality a real shame. At the end of my sessions I offer a reality that despite the differing levels of “pieces” and/or disability  they are not defined by  their condition, they are human beings first like everyone else.

Paul Isaacs 2017

 


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Autism and Asperger’s Different Trajectories and Different Presentations?

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Today I was doing autism training and in the team was lovely and inquisitive man with Asperger’s Syndrome as the session went on he shared some of his experiences from not picking up verbal cues, being literal and having sensory integration disorder as well as issues with emotional regulation and possible alexithymia.

It amazes me still that people think that “Autism” and “Asperger’s Syndrome” are still considered to some to be the “same thing” when is clear that even if on the surface some of the issues may be similar many of underlying components are very different. If I use both the gentlemen in question and myself as examples so here goes.

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  • The gentleman seemed to display a level of Social Emotional Agnosia which meant he struggles with non-verbal cues, tone of voice and facial expression he acknowledged that he use past experiences to build up a format of how to understand someone
  • He didn’t have Prosopagnosia (30% of people with social emotional agnosia do so)
  • He was literal in processing of verbal language and seemed to have less impaired visual-verbal processing
  • Possible Alexithymia which is “knowingness of your own emotional states”
  • Seemed to mentalise in a more logical, literal and pragmatic manner which suggests the use of the “left brain” person.

With Myself

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  • I have a mixture of Simultagnosia (Object Blindness) and Semantic Agnosia (Meaning Blindness) which means my visual field is fragmented, distorted and incoming visual information does not have any meaning, context or reasoning
  • I have Prosopagnosia (Faceblindness) as an extending of the already existing issues around visual perception meaning I “recognise people” primarily by patterns of movement and voice
  • I have a level of Receptive and Expressive Aphasia (Meaning Deafness) which even in its current residual form means I “lose” the ability to keep up with interpretive verbal information and struggle with visual-verbal processing
  • I have less literal, logical and pragmatic style of thinking or organised thoughts  I am very much a “right brain” person.

 

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I was asked what I thought the main different feature was between Autism and Asperger’s. I think you’ll maybe find in reading through the site on brain hemisphere specialisation that there are many Aspies who may be better at left brain stuff and many Auties who may be more right brain but not nearly recognised for the abilities they do have as much as they are recognised for the left-brain abilities they don’t have. Whilst most people have a balance of both abilities, being extremely one side or the other clearly means the abilities of that other side are far less practiced. Processing incoming information in a non-Autie manner usually involves using a good balance of the two. So feel free to try the test yourself.

Donna Williams

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Different Trajectories 

Maybe its is because I spent large part of my infanthood exploring through my senses and/or through patterning, theming and feeling struggling to get a sense of what “interpretive information” is and what it means? To be around such information and how to connect all the dots within in my mind. However I appreciated and acknowledged the validity of it in my previous blog post.

I flourish in areas of typing, writing poetry and creativity I love wordplay, sounds,  pitches and the seemingly infinite kaleidoscope colours, shapes, textures and shines they “talk to me” as much as next person.

Things Foundly Remembered

I saw your face with my hands

A voice a distant echo but foundly acknowledged

The smell of the wise tree in the garden the leaves did dance

A new place everywhere to be eagerly explored upwards and onwards

Flomping along the globblyness unstuck and unshackled my hands are free

Looking at the gloaming and silvering shape what plotunes and envelopes my soul

I thank you old friends you are me and I am likewise swashing around in the ink clouds

 

Paul Isaacs 2017

 


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“Idiosyncratic Language” & “Stored Language Responses” in Autism

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Note this is from a personal perspective

Sometimes language in terms of interpretation can be difficult to “use” and “explore” however it may not be a true representation of the “inner world” the person is living in.

Words could come out stilted, mixed up and not in order and if the order is there it may take a lot time to form and lead into a strand of information. When my language was in its earliest “fruits” it was mixture of echolalia which I got from movies, sounds, movements, pitches and dominated my mind but trying to learn “interpretive language” was  “forced” and came from a  “stilted “place”.

  • Give the person time to process the information if the person has a level of Aphasia, and/or Verbal Agnosia
  • Allow time if the person has a level of motor coordination issues such as Oral Apraxia, Body Apraxia and/or Body Agnosias
  • Try using Gesture, Tone, Inflection and Objects of Reference
  • Understand were the stored language is coming from – Exposure Anxiety, Problems with Integration “self and other” in conversation, Body Related “Highs”, Mood, Anxiety, Impulse Control, Selective Mutism and/or Emotional Regulation 
  • See the Person First and Presume Competence

Before functional speech it a swill of verbal and visual information that I could not grasp nor mentalising in a fashion which was tangible my “inner world” was very much there but is was struggle to get it out I didn’t have a lot words to use in my mind as it was endlessly swirling and as I got older (before my later infant years) I was slowly building a firm repertoire of words and has a lot I want to say but couldn’t.

When functional speech came at the around the ages 7/8 the it was expressively of a three year old (in developmental, content and constructional presentation) however this “voice” that seemed to be more “fluid” scared me and frustrated me at the same time as it still didn’t represent my “inner world” I was torn between complex stored responses the basics of “interpretive speech” and wanting to cut off from verbal speech altogether not being able to “hold” mental images of words also delay many aspect of my language but painting and drawing in many ways we’re a creative and communicative effort it created a bridge.

I certainly did not have a Asperger trajectory when it came to expressive and receptive language and getting the point of verbal and contextual significance so when I get tired and my language processing goes down. 

  • Speech will become slower and fragmented
  • I will have consciously find “interpretive speak” words
  • Sentence construction and word placement will be mixed
  • I will get “stuck” on a word and/or sentence focusing on how it sounds

I still type more words than I verbally “speak” however I am grateful that I can and I try and use it to the best of my efforts in fact typing has allowed me to express my emotions with much more clarity, cadence and deepness.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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A Humanistic Psychological Approach To Autism

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Humanistic, humanism and humanist are terms in psychology relating to an approach which studies the whole person, and the uniqueness of each individual.  Essentially, these terms refer the same approach in psychology.

Humanism is a psychological perspective that emphasizes the study of the whole person. Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only through the eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the person doing the behaving.

McLeod, S. A. (2015). Humanism. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/humanistic.html

Looking at whole person means you look at every aspect of the person and how what is going on lets look at this in the context of autism

  • The Environment (social connections, relationships, friendships)
  • Personality (development of personality, traits, types and “disordered extremes” which also connects with communication styles, wants, needs, desires, aspirations etc)
  • Education (types of learning, style of learning, solitary, social, mixed)
  • Information processing (delayed, mixed, information overload)
  • Language processing (literal, aphasia, semantic pragmatic disorder)
  • Sensory integration (over or under processing/integration of sensory input)
  • Sensory perceptional (face-blindness, meaning blindness, object blind and other associated perceptual disorders) 
  • Emotional regulation and perception
  • Mental Health (mood disorders, attachment disorders, dissociative disorders, impulse control disorders, psychosis)
  • Identity (male, female, non-binary, hertrosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual etc) 
  • Co-dependency (dependant personality, passive-aggressive personality and attachment) 
  • Dietary Disabilities (food intolerances, food allergies, chemical imbalances)  
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Auto-immune disorders
  • Seizure Disorders

Holistic Psychology

Holism refers to any approach that emphasizes the whole rather than their constituent parts. In other words ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Qualitative methods of the humanistic approach reflect a holistic position. Social psychology also takes a holistic view.

A holistic approach therefore suggests that there are different levels of explanation and that at each level there are “emergent properties” that cannot be reduced to the one below.

Reductionist explanations, which might work in some circumstances, are considered inappropriate to the study of human subjectivity because here the emergent property that we have to take account of is that of the “whole person”.  Otherwise it makes no sense to try to understand the meaning of anything that anybody might do.

McLeod, S. A. (2008). Reductionism and Holism. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/reductionism-holism.html

I would say with working in the autism field for over seven years you must look at all the factors and how the interact with EACH OTHER such as personality development for example will dictate how  people react and however the underpinnings are to do with biological, psychological and environmental factors.

All Voices are Equal

All voices and perceptions are equal and that means that differing realities, perceptions and knowledge has to be taking into account so that can be. There should be no “them vs us” or segregation burns far too many bridges. This can be from differing realities such as neurobiology, auto-immunity and metabolic disorders, dietary needs and many more.

Listening, Empathy and Autonomy

Self-worth, self-esteem, self-perception are to do with how we feel about ourselves in relation to others and how other’s feel in relation to you here are simple aspects of that.

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  • Trust (Building stable, balanced and honest friendships and/or relationships)
  • Empathy (Showing genuine kindness, assertion and care which is balanced, contextual and meaningful)
  • Listening (Acknowledging the person as a human being first through listening to their wants, needs, desires and aspirations) 
  • Being Non-authoritarian and egalitarian (Show through example, intention and meaning that being equal is the standard stetter nothing more or less)
  • Allow for growth and developmental, psychological and environmental changes  (Change is good it can be progressive, assertive, connective, inspiring and fun)
  • Everybody is a person (Be non-judgmental, objective and constructive the key for allowing growth is to see the person first) 

 

Fruit Salad 2017

 

What makes each person with autism so different from each other?  How do you learn to ‘speak autistic’?  What are the low cost and no cost strategies to help people with autism manage their own particular collection of challenges?

Published in 2005, The Jumbled Jigsaw is an easy to read, ‘quick dip’ self help manual on the ‘Fruit Salad’ model of and approach to the navigation and management of autism.  It exposes autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) not as single entities but as a combination of a whole range of often untreated, sometimes easily treatable, underlying conditions. Exploring everything from mood, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and tic disorders to information processing and sensory perceptual difficulties, including dependency issues, identity problems and much more, it demonstrates how a number of such conditions can combine to form a ‘cluster condition’ and underpin the label ‘autism spectrum disorder.  Most importantly it gives case study examples and clear strategies for management of each piece of autism spectrum ‘fruit salad’.

Donna Williams 2005

My Conclusion is that looking at the “bigger picture”, “the whole person” and the interacting components form an “inside-out” perspective means that you can potentially enrich and EMPOWER people live giving the them the building blocks to make choices, self-assertion, independence and self-worth.

Paul Isaacs 2017