Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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The Currency Of Being An Individual?

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Mental Health & Lockdown

I suppose times are hard at these moments and one needs time to reflect upon the differing aspects of life, love and true connection.

Admiration, inspiration is not love or connection it is looking at someone from a far, human beings have learnt to live (through the western world) to project how they expect or are told to be feeling, thinking and acting and not connecting with how they are truly are from the inside.

Education & Learning

The education system is broken and needs to change goes beyond logistics,ethics timetables and class structure it is how children are taught, respected and listened to.

That has to be held to account. I have always seen children as “little people” meaning they are of equal valour and should not be patronised but seen on a level that embraces and acknowledges them as human beings.

When one is a teenager you are expected to be an “adult” which is a subjective phrase to you to use because biologically and chronologically a person isn’t anyway, emotions are not explored in a way which is not attuned to the individual.

A person at the very least in a structured educational environment should be given the opportunity to have a healthy relationship with them, to understand, process them and to explore them without fear of judgement or the vices of division.

Practically of life is one thing but love for a fellow human being is not. Why? Humans are not cookie cutter pre-molded mind-scapes or sausage laden meat blobs of sameness.

In an egalitarian framework we in practice could acknowledge all people’s realities, inner worlds and perceptions of equal and balanced valour with everyone else.

Mental Health & The Culture Of “Fame”

Is that why our mental health system is clogged full of people feeling unfurnished? Unsettled? and inferior? Is it to do with the trans-generational and false concept of emotions that is being passed down on to the next? Is societies currency of fame, money and the material and external as basis of “success” damaging and warping young mindsets into a journey not of self discovery but same discovery. This is worthy of reflecting upon not in a overly logical or intellectual sense but an internal one.

Connected Reasons For Actions & Choices

How many people are there in the world that do things only to oblige? All the time? That do things upon themselves because they have to keep up with the Jones? Like it has has been pre- written that this time and thus this moment they must be thinking, feeling, acting and doing like pre-programmed machine people to make friends on this level, have sexual intercourse on this level, marry on this level and have children on this level.

Now its not these life choices that I am bringing into to question, its the level of connectness with the ACT of doing these things on an emotional level that I am questioning. Never do things because you are shoe-horned under false pretences.

You do not got to a party as someone else for everyone would love and adorn under the falsehood of projecting, knowing full well that if you went as a real human being you would shunned at the doorstep.

Self Love Isn’t Selfishness

Unhappiness is sometimes a person who’s good character has been polarised, a person who has been made to feel expendable and exchangeable and this all comes down to what a person feels connection is. True connection is having a level of self-love and self-care but not at the expense of another persons reality.

Paul Isaacs 2020


Is Bullying “Normal”?

Here is an interesting observation, many people who bullied me at school and during my time in education I have heard have always said they “observed” the acts never instigated implying overtly they were witness’ not people to take part in the act.

Let’s be frank you did on a daily basis commenting on my appearance.

  1. How I talked
  2. How I walked
  3. My weight
  4. My lack of friends
  5. My lack of intelligence
  6. My emotions
  7. My parents, my grandparents
  8. My social status.

This would happen at class, during breaks/lunchtime, waiting for transport home/during transport and at the place were I live from the ages of 5 to 16 years old.

This also included parents and teachers.

However just because I have made conscious and dedicated effort to see and take the good out of your actions, to not let them define me, to not be bitter or hold on to reductive actions of revenge or futile bitterness of the past that doesn’t not mean your acts were correct.

I can be objective and say it was your homelife, your sense of unfulfilment socially and/or academically, clashing of personality, the chemical imbalances that come with teenagehood, the peer pressure etc.

To which is true, however in terms of projection and hurt you flung on me was vile, cruel and cowardly you made me feel worthless and at multiple times I wanted to not live.

Bullying isn’t a “normal” part of growing up, it isn’t a right of passage, it isn’t a phase and the word itself trivialises the actions which is, psychological and/or physical abuse and projected trauma onto another human being.

I thank you for bestowing these actions on me because you gave me a framework how not to treat people, I understand a lot of you have families and children.

I hope you have matured and changed as you have grown and I sincerely wish your young one’s do not go through what I went through.

I refuse to be a victim of the past, for I do not want it to live in my future.

Paul Isaacs 2020


In The Last Ten Years

Looking Back

The last ten years have been very intersting in 2009 I was recently out of the Mental Health Services with two personality disorders, auditory hallucinations and psychosis, I was self harming and attempted suicide.

Early Infancy

By clinical observations I was serverely autistic, I was profoundly meaning deaf, meaning blind, body disconnected, oral apraxic and didn’t gain functional speech till later in infancy. I was and am thankful to my parents who had no means of any interventions (in the late 80s many were dated).

In 2010 I was diagnosed with autism and OCD and my speaking career started off in which I went freelance in 2015.

“Standards of Success”

By “non-autistic” standards I “made it” in many ways I suppose. I was considered “retarded” by the village I lived in and was targeted and bullied by the children and adults till my mid-teens.

Education

I was targeted and bullied at school from primary to secondary when I finally left in 2002 (with an isolated incident of sexual abuse) in the latter.

I went on to do an ICT coursecfor a year and had the greatest experience of my life from and educational perspective it proved I could be educated.

Bullying and Employment

The bullying in employment started in 2002/3 so multiple jobs were lost and gained.

I was thankful to the autism base in Chinnor in around 2008/9 for supporting me as well as the start of my speaking career in 2010. Over that period of time I wrote and authored 5 books.

The bullying in employment stopped in 2015 when I went freelance and started working for My World.

This is longest time in employment that I have been safe, comfortable and seen as a part of the team.

I Am A Person-First

People wonder why I use “person-first language” this is why because I do not want to be defined by a “label”. I do not like serperatist “them and us, us and them” rhetoric we (as beings) are all a part of the human race

From 2013 onwards to now I am pleased to have met some of the most wonderful and friendly people in both my personal and professional life.

Love and Life

I lost my Gramp in March 2017 due to metatastic prostate cancer, one of my dearest friends and mentors Polly (Donna Williams) in April that year also to metatastic breast cancer and my Nan in December 2019 due to pneumonia. I shall always cherish my fondest memories of them.

I almost lost my Dad in 2011 due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia and then meningitis in 2018 as well as my Mum in May 2019 due to a complex thrombotic disease.

Creative Mindsets

I have had great fun dabbling in art, poetry and what I call “insta-modelling” in which to my surprise and support from my friends up north has been rather enjoyable!

I have been interested in androgyny for many years prior and have been told I look as such.

One of things I can do well is pluck my eyebrows which I consider an achievement as much as anything else! 😉

Conclusion

So look beyond what is here, look beyond what is heard, what is seen, what is touched and sense people because every cherished little person is special and of equal valor and humility in this world.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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A Tall Tail Of Somotisation Disorder

The Beginning

I started getting symptoms of this in late infancy around 11 years old this was related to mitigating factors both to do with neurological processing such as aphasia, alexithymia and visual agnosias, environmental factors bullying and emotional triggering.

Psycho-Somatic Trauma Based Response to Negative Environment Experiences?

I would get sensations of my body “melting”, headaches, stomachaches, tingling in limbs, face and lips and by the time secondary school came and chronic bullying persisted in the first two weeks the pain would start again as stated above.

In particular, the pattern of shrinking was observed in two parts of the brain called the putamen and the caudate, a change oddly reminiscent of adults who have experienced early life stress, such as childhood maltreatment.

These sensations would cause me to have intestinal discomfort ranging from chronic constipation to nausea.

I would go to the school reception during lunch break sometimes on a almost daily basis saying either about a stomachache and/or headache. I would sit in floods of tears wanting to go home this went on for approximately 18 months as my nervous system was also being pushed as panic attacks usually followed before and/or after an episode of pain.

This meant that obsessive-compulsive disorder manifested in persistent hand-washing, counting, checking and reassurance around illness and disease began which last from the ages of 12 to 15.

Psychological Pain Presenting as Physical Pain?

What is Somatic Symptom Disorder

People with somatic symptom disorder experience real physical symptoms — they are not imagined. These symptoms can vary in intensity from mild to severe and often include breathlessness, exhaustion, or weakness, though pain is the most commonly reported symptom. Doctors may be unable to pinpoint a medical reason, or there may be a clear and diagnosable medical cause. However, people with somatic symptom disorder are likely to experience the symptoms of their illness more severely than is common.

 

Fast forward to this year and very recently I woke up in tremendous pain it started with an “itching” sensation in my lower arms and legs, then they felt like they were on fire, I got up and moved my legs persistently for 40 mins trying to “release” the sensation

I went to the GP this week who confirmed somatisation disorder secondary to an anxiety disorder, PTSD, depression and hypercondriasis which makes sense.

Pain would be triggered by talking about illness in any context,so for example people on the bus sat behind me and in the GP waiting room for example the described pain would migrate and move from my lower back, to my upper back from upper limbs to my lower limbs my body would begin to shake and adrenaline fired through my body, my stomach muscles would cramp up and it would gurgle.

I went for a walk two nights ago and my feet went “numb” this caused great distress and panic as I walked home however bursting into tears was a great release for me.

Conclusion

Now most of pain has subsided but what does psycho-somatic pain represent? For me I feel it is unprocessed emotions, recent environmental distress and need for my body and brain to calm down.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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A Lesson in Time – Mental Health Assessment Pre-Diagnosis

Paul 7 Years Old

Family Assessment

Tuesday 11th February 1997

Presenting Problems

Mr. Isaacs was unable to attend today as he is a shift worker and since accordingly this date he has been changed to day work. My initial impression of Paul was of a much younger lad (he is eleven in May) physically and psychologically.

Paul was eager to explain his concerns to me and at times was very insistent on not letting his mother give a more comprehensible explanation of the situations that had occurred.

Paul’s major sense of unhappiness and the reason for his referral is that he feels he is verbally bullied at school. he gave examples of being taunted primarily about 1.) The he way walks. 2.) Shuffling his feet. 3.) He wears glasses – and he has been called “four eyes”. However, he feels that the teaching staff are against him . In year 4 he had an unhappy relationship with his form teacher. It does seem one particular occasion he was humiliated – but to the infants so they could show him how to behave.

Mrs Isaacs also incited another incident which seemed to have upset her more than Paul. It became apparent that when Paul was explaining his situation at school his explanations tented to be repetitions of his parents points of view.

Paul after became muddled and it seemed there gaps in connecting and associating. It was also significant that when Paul referred to “she!”- his pronunciation was really that of “he” – I did check several times, but it appears that both Paul and his mother were unaware of this – which was marked. (receptive hearing problem? speech difficulties?).

Mrs Isaacs pointed out that Paul always had difficulties “concentrating” and settling down to work – she remembers this as stemming as far back as three year of age – When he attended play-group. she also recalls at this age and ever since that has had problems with “interacting with others” (her words). Paul has not many friends and it was brought to Mrs Isaacs’ attention by the teaching staff that he was a “solitary figure” in the playground. His mother also pointed out that they lived close of approx ten houses and that there were other children of Paul’s age, but he tended to say in.

Her explanation for this was that he felt safe and secure behind closed doors. Paul did mention some of his friends, but found it hard to articulate what he felt about his friendships with them. He did admit to hitting out at people at times is was significant that he mentioned his father hit him when he was angry. Mrs Isaacs denied this. Paul’s response was “I suppose Mum must embarrassed that I said that.”

Paul’s self-perception is that his “fairly sensible” , however he admits to being influenced by others into “being silly”, but he feels other children are being “sillier” the than him – “going over the top”. He feels he doesn’t go over “the top”. Paul has recently had to go back to the very basics in Maths with one other pupil. Mrs Isaacs conveyed concern and irritation that the teaching staff had not picked up on Paul’s severe difficulties with Maths; especially in view of him starting upper school at Lord Williams East in the new academic year (Sept 1997). Paul’s reading age is estimated as that of a nine year old. it appears the only positive subject that could of was Paul’ art. Mrs Isaacs believes and feels the teaching staff convey negative messages surround Paul’s overall performance. Mrs Isaacs explained that Paul gets very “worked up” over homework assignments, Paul also stated that he cries very easily hence his vulnerability at school in being bullied. It appears Paul suffers from anticipatory anxiety and expressed his fear of commencing upper school as he has heard he will get “beaten up”. Is is of significance that Mrs Isaacs was unhappy at ‘Long Crendon Primary School’ and suffered “bullying” at ‘Lord Williams’ East’. Mr Isaacs is also being scapegoated at work – he is being ‘verbally bullied’ (Mrs Isaacs’ words) and harassed and feels under a lot of pressure.

Family History

When referring to the history of the pregnancy Mrs Isaacs requested to speak separately – she explained she told no one of the pregnancy – only her partner (whom she is married to). She had been rushed into the JR as Paul “was distressed” – he was a month premature and was in SBCU post birth. She was unable to breast -feed Paul remarking they had said “she was too big”. Transition to weening had been unproblematic. Had been slow in walking – 18 months? He was sleepy baby and had to be woken up for feeds – He had been a “good baby”. However Mrs Isaacs had fond toddlerhood difficult – his “boisterousness”. Paul has had three operations 1.) Circumcision at 2 years 2.) Grommets 3.) Adenoidectomy at 4 years – at the JR and Radcliffe. Tonsillitis – query – Tonsillectomy otherwise healthy. Mother with Paul for all operations – no significant complications

Paul would like help with “the teasing” – he said it although it had been easier recently he wants to be able to cope with it better if it worsens again. He also says he is very sensitive and works himself into a state easily. There is also much anticipatory anxiety regarding this move to Lord Williams’ East in the Autumn. In ascertaining his mood he expresses no helplessness or hopeless feeling and denies suicidal ideation or such thoughts. He does covey and sense of confusion and bewilderment over the treating of staff’s “rude words” (his words) about his self-presentation. (persistent anxiety).

  1. Assessment from Psychologist (educational?) to check on cognitive abilities and overall school performance.

  2. Social skills group at “The Park Hospital for Children”. (mother drives) for interaction with class.

  3. Possible Family Therapy – concerns regarding Paul;s parents and levels of depression. Re-enactment of mother’s unhappy school experience and father’s “bullying” at his workplace, especially regarding “authority figures”

Cognitive Abilities , Cognitive Impairment & “Mental Retardation”

“It became noticeable he had very slow speech”

There was a massive transition in 1993/1994 prior to this interaction before this I was echolalic, meaning deaf to large degree around 80 to 90 percent and unable to speak in a fluid manner. Having visual agnosias, oral apraxia and challenges around receptive language meant that getting an interpretive and expressive framework was slow, stilted and lengthy. I went through bouts of selective mutism and hating my “connected” voice which then in turn triggered exposure anxiety.

there appeared to be a gap in connecting and association.

Still having complex visual and verbal blockages meant that my “cognitive abilities” were hidden and therefore not “seen”. I have no doubt that the lady in question had her own frame of reference on how I was processing the information so thinking I was “retarded” was just the tip of the processing iceberg.

Bursting into tears quickly’ – Alexithymia, Body Agnosias and Trauma

There are many overlapping reasons why this was happening at this point – the reason in which I was at this assessment was the persistent and verbal bullying from a senior member of staff at the primary school which I attended.

Having body agnosias meant that I couldn’t gauge or manage my own emotional states this would be related to alexithymia the inability to “know” your own states of emotion, the ability to “internalise” them and mentalise them on a “conscious” level. However many years later when I wrote my first book I came to realise that on a “unconscious level” all my experiences were unlocked through typing.

(receptive hearing problem? speech difficulties?)

I was traumatised from an early age by expressive language (but at times would be intermittently intrigued) due to a language processing disorder (aphasia).

I was triggered by exposure anxiety, dissociated easily and would struggle to get incoming information with “meaning”. Living in the world of the system of “sensing” before awareness mind and the ability to make interpretive connections.

Battling Books & Formulas & Artism

He has severe difficulties in maths.

His reading age has been estimated at an average age of nine.

Not being able to mentalise in a visual – verbal way meant that I had challenges around comprehension and getting meaning from books, written words and maths. (dyslexia, dyscalculia and visual-verbal agnosias). I found the process of writing very difficult the way in which I held the pencil, the ability to concentrate on each letter and sentence formation. The same goes for maths.

My solace for extraction and distraction was art which was were my mind was freed and felt “at home”. I started from a very young around 5 smearing paint on to a piece of paper and I was hooked from that point on then transitioning to drawing by route during this period of my development.

Prematurity & Height
“There is some evidence that babies who were born premature tend to be shorter in childhood, but they usually catch up with those born at term in late adolescence. But our study shows that women who were born very preterm fail to reach the stature you’d expect based on their parents’ and siblings’ heights.”12 Dec 2016

She noted that developmentally and that I seemed “younger” than my age from a psychological and psychical perspective. There is a link between having a short stature and prematurity, currently I am only about 5’8′ I do not think I will be growing vertically anytime soon.

Did I Have An Attachment Disorder?

I can assure you I was lucky that my parents gave me love, support and grounding even though they didn’t know that I was on the autism spectrum. Did they both have difficult childhoods and upbringings? Yes they did for many different reasons.

My Father had parents his whom were his primary caregivers who didn’t not show him love, affection, boundaries or a sense of meaningful inclusion. Both of his parents were cold and aloof and didn’t seem to understand (be it wanting or otherwise) the serious practicalities of what parenthood meant for in a child’s development and emotional well-being.

My Mother was seen as a disappointment to her Mother who was constantly comparing my Mum to other people explaining that she needed to be more like other people as opposed to building up her own sense of self identity, self-worth and autonomy.

The truth is I am and try to be a objective judge of character when it’s presented to me and the answer is no I did not have an attachment disorder and my parents were not to blame for anything.

My Mother fits the solitary, serious and self-sacrificing personality types. She is giving, emotionally connective and generous.

My Father fits the conscientious, mercurial and adventurous personality types. He is assertive, pragmatic and forthright.

I love and value them as human beings because despite their own “shit” they didn’t fling it consciously or otherwise on to me.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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School Reunion & Moving On

Once I was told why don’t you go to school reunion’s? Having thought about this answer and the infinite amount of timely words I could plunder on this subject. I figured it would best to say never go back to the person you used to be you will only get lost again.

People change for all sorts of reason’s and those people who knew me time is about being the best version of yourself.

For those who bullied me who clad it with denial or detachment or the “phase of being a teenager” you probably needed a hug and listening ear more than I ever did.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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My World- Autism, Ethos & Humanity

I am pleased an eagerly proud to be working for a small autism organisation called My World and day centre for people on the autism spectrum. This summer it shall be four years of service to which I have contributed my consultancy work.

With people who have a narrow, conceited and reductive view of what autism “is” and how one is supposed to “act” and “behave” noting that it has “one look” so therefore “one approach and intervention” is wrong and that doesn’t happen here.

At My World all the caring and empathic staff are valued, open-minded and willing to learn this means that what is taken is a person-centred approach, looking at the person’s mental health, learning styles, information processing challenges and ultimately sees them as people or equal worth and value going about their day and purcuits.

Our success is our ethos, open-mind natures, ability to learn new things and approaches and empathy which encourages people in the end to be the best version of themselves.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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Be The Best Version Of Yourself

In a sometimes mind boggling world of shallow, narrow cucumber minded folk. Remember to be the person you want to be, when you close your eyes, wake up, make breakfast and go to work.

Short and timely travels within a flesh vessel of chemicals, minerals, fluids and too many a complication to bubble upon the cooking fat of existence.

I do no t adhere to clubs of a singular mentality for sometimes a heard can lead the blinkered people towards darkly paths of anxiety and self recriminations.

So I say crumble the falsehoods of separation, for they create longer bridges of acceptance to cross, know you are one person with the ability of helpfulness to share love upon everyone.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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Atypical Features & Androgyny

I have atypical eyelids, shaped eyebrows, a crooked mouth and nasal bridge however people have told me either I look like a woman and/or have features of a woman for which I am flattered by their optical observations of my variants of my somewhat fruitful and irregular visage.

Androgny can be a look as much as an attitude a timely peek into someone who is a mixture of masculine and feminine.

I am not perfect and that is what should be cherished a feeling of unshackled non-perfection I find solace and tempered grounding beneath my limbs in these thoughts and I can smile freely. 😊

Paul Isaacs 2018.


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An “Autistic Mind?” Really?

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Stretched along a small fractional time-span of life which I have lived in comparison to the elders around me, I sought to wonder my inked mind of swirlyness in which fragments put out of the ghost-like fog like bearing lanterns in London in times of old.

My mind is blocked in certain areas of passage but not as much as it used to be in terms of having a “seeing mind” and “hearing brain” that boggles with pre-filtered thoughts that extract readily through my fingertips as if a giant piece of knowledge was wailed with me knowing why or what it is used for.

I would say if anything my mind is “human” as subjective as a term should be, but never the less as true as the sun in the sky and the forests in the wood that is in mind at the heart of the matter, the core that runs the coils, the heart-mind that beast my inner cavern of light and darkly thoughts .

My eager soul is not wanting the when whole cake of me to be seen as “autistic” because in the end if you had an “autistic cake” would it really just taste of “autism” I think it tastes of so much more drenched a mouth of fruitful flavoursome differences that colour my being stretched on a canvas of existence.

Paul Isaacs 2018