Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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A Humanistic Psychological Approach To Autism

maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramide

 

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.

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.

congruence

  • 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

 


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Not Proud Nor Ashamed – Balanced About Being On The Autism Spectrum

Premature 1I Was Born A Human Being

I was born in 1986 and as far as I know I was born a human being just like the 7 billion other people on the this earth and of course I had my issues related to autism not being able to speak, not seeing the world as a coherent whole, faceblindness, receptive and expressive language disorders, oral apraxia, hemiplegia and list goes on. These thing are not “me” being face-blind isn’t me, being aphasic isn’t me and  being hemiplegic isn’t me either.

Autism A Describing Word

“Autism” is describing not defining for some people autism is a culture a place to be in and around a shared culture, however I do not believe that autism is a culture but has been created as such and maybe the question is who created culture? What rules apply? What rules don’t? What is “autistic”? What isn’t “autistic”?

I often wonder I feel however so more closer to being a human being then defining myself by one word which means different things to different people.

When I was formally diagnosed in 2010 with autism I was told by my parents that you are still “Paul” and this diagnosis only changes one thing that you aware of what difficulties you have had.

Autism Is Apart Of? Not The Defining Factor? 

I would agree with them and be understanding my autism and as clustering of differing conditions I was able to piece together my “autism” not as I saw fit but looking at deeply and introspectively enough to understand myself and hopefully empower others.

I know what autism is for me it is apart of not the defining factor I feel indifferent and balanced about what it means. I have done enough research and consultancy work to know that personality types, co-conditions, environmental factors, metabolic disorders, auto-immune disorderslearning types and communication styles,  will have an impact on the presentation of one’s “autism” so what does that mean?

  • Not one intervention works for all
  • Not all the issues are the same despite have a similar and/or same diagnosis
  • Not all people with autism have the same wants, needs, or desires
  • Not all people on the spectrum have the same communication profiles
  • Some people on the autism spectrum have auto-immune and metabolic issues which impact on functioning
  • Some people with autism have dietary disabilities which impact on learning and information processing 
  • Some people on the autism spectrum will have undiagnosed personality disorders and mental health co-conditions that keep being called “the autism” when they are not

I AM autistic but I HAVE immune deficiencies, I HAD cancer (apparently I can’t actually un-have it, its called remission) , I HAVE Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome… I also HAVE visual perceptual disorders, I HAVE language processing disorder, I HAVE mild learning disabilities.

I do not feel I AM these things, they are not ME, they walk alongside of me, often as parts of my autism, and whilst I AM autistic, just as I AM immune deficient, and I AM mildly learning disabled, Autism is not the sum total of who I am, it does not define my entire being or personhood, even if my personality traits are archetypally relatively ‘autistic’, I remain a person WITH autism… someone who HAS autism and, ok, IS autistic. The rest is war mongering militant separatist fascist crudola

– says Groucho
“PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER”.

Polly Samuel 2013

Overall autism is not the defining factor of my me. My personhood that will always shine first not because I am ashamed of my autism nor because I am not proud of it either I remain balanced in what that means it gives me clarity and sanity. I am a human being first.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism “Specialism”, Personality Profiles, Reverse Bigotry & Being Human

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Many times people often focus on the person’s autism as all of “them” this means that the “autism” is the reason for all of their behaviours, reactions, actions and motivations. If you are on the autism spectrum you may well be aware of autism “stereotypes” such as an overtly logical, literal processor and extractor of information. If this is true in some cases it is far from the bigger picture and is far from the broader palette that is actually out there.

Let’s look at three examples of differing personality types

For the person with a Idiosyncratic personality type not fitting in a running along their own path maybe something that has brought them joy and/or isolation by “dancing to their own beat”, being naturally non-conformist, inventive and intuitive.

The Idiosyncratic Personality Type believe that your interests lie in (Oldham, pg. 252):

  • not being like anyone else
  • marching to your own beat
  • being unconventional
  • being original
  • standing out from the crowd

For the person with a Conscientious personality type they may be fixed on being productive, useful and striving for success the fear of failure and self loathing could hinder their development for continued perfectionism, however being pragmatic and ordered in nature along with highly motivational work ethic has its benefits.

The interests of the Conscientious Character Style include (Oldham, pg. 62):

  • having strong moral principles and being certain
  • not resting until the job is done and done right
  • being loyal to families, causes, and superiors
  • working hard to do well
  • achieving and accomplishing things
  • loving to work and be challenged

 

For the person with a Solitary personality type being focused on being alone, in a “inner world” and not be swayed by praise, acknowledgment or criticism this may come with a lack of social and emotional development however their comfortable observations of the world offer patience, tranquillity and healthily reserve.

The interests of the Solitary Personality Type include (Oldham, pg. 275):

  • not needing anyone but yourself
  • being unmoved by the crowd
  • being free of the need to impress and please
  • being free of emotions and involvements with others
  • having clarity of vision rather than sentiment and intimacy
  • discovering and recording the facts of existence

The Problem With “Specialism”

Nobody is better than anyone else and that accounts for people on the spectrum too. I strive for balance, objectivity, kindness, empathy and equality. If someone is going to be militant with the focus being that people off the autism spectrum are collectively “wrong” then reverse bigotry is still bigotry and doesn’t into the framework of empowerment it creates more divisions, voices, lost, realties not acknowledged that in not progress but quite the opposite.

Personality types and the richness of them are for all people to share I have noted that mine are idiosyncratic, serious, mercurial and self-sacrificing by narrowing your bandwidth and not acknowledging that personality types have much to about development as the neurological and biological challenges means you are missing the fundamental part of “humanness.”

Promoting equality in difference and diversity, is what I believe in and I’ll strive for the opportunity to do that, wherever I find it.

Any derogatory or dismissive stance relating to non-autistic people as a group is no less a form of prejudice as any in history.

Polly Samuel

Autism, Personhood, Personality Types and Identity

Theses aspects of a person/human being  are different for all but at the same time very real so if someone’s “autism” is just seen as “collective autism” in other words all the “traits” are “autistic” then that reductive way of perceiving will mean that the personhood and associated traits may well be ignored. This will have an impact of self-identity, self-worth and could potentially push these personality types into “disordered extremes” impacting on functioning further.

Looking at the full package of autism that does include personality types and disordered extremes and the inter-relation that have on the person’s perceptions, mental health, identity and reactions to environment.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Celebrating My Gramp’s Life

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My Gramp had a wonderful send off yesterday the night before we said our goodbyes at the chapel of rest. He looked serene and calm in blue. I touched his face for the last time his skin soft and his hair the texture of snow. The next day we went to Oxford Crematorium to pay our respects and celebrate his life.

I firmly believe that in order to go to a funeral you must have known the person on a superficial level and that you aren’t there for your own selfish agenda to cleanse your sins of not being there while they were living, treating them poorly in life and making it all about you it is the ultimate hypocrisy.

I am so glad it was a celebration of his character, ethos, humour and outlook.

Gramp was a kindly fellow who cared deeply for his friends and family and would spread his kindness to those who took time to get to know him. He was funny, serious, charming, witty and above all loyal. He took shit and as another friend said made sculptures out of them from the people who decided to damage his character by spreading rumours to the verbal tirades he always knew who he was and carried being true to himself thats is what I loved about Gramp he loved life.  xx

Paul Isaacs 2017


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To Polly – A Friend – Thank You

 

To Polly A Friend

Words cannot plunder

The source of your wonder

A light in the bleak dark

Words that make their mark

A kindly soul with the gift to give

A balanced example of how to live

A humbling experience your facts and humour

Your words, pictures and  legacy will forever nearer and sooner

Empowerment 

What can I say? I often have wondered how to put into words how I feel about the impact that Polly has made on my life, the words, the support, the chuckles over our skype chats the personal and professional guidance that was given in the blink of an eye. She has helped broaden my professional career, empowered me to find myself and ultimately has given me invaluable tools.

Setting Examples 

The kindness and concern the building blocks shown by words and example and the insatiable zest for life and to “just be” in your own skin, to have fun, to be serious, to be balanced, to be caring, to be selfless, to be you, to understand me and other, to be giving and to be caring, to not put yourselves above and to finally find yourself and pave your own journey so you may have the tools to experience life anew. That is what I think when I will remember Polly a shining example of balance, breaking of barriers, retaining self, not selling out and creating her own path.

Connecting 

I meet Polly briefly in 2009 at a conference and connected with her on social media a few years later. I value her friendship because she showed me that relationships can be built on safe, secure and balanced foundations and to expect anything less is the time to move on and pave something new. I am fully aware people knew Polly far more than I did in terms of length of time and so forth. I would like to say that the impact she made on me and her continued friendship online put faith and self-belief back into a realistic and doable perspective.

I thank you Polly for giving me the tools to empower, for giving me hope, laughs, reality and solutions and just being you.

Nobody Nowhere – Paper Owl Films 

Paul Isaacs 2017

 


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Hope is Universal. It’s for everybody with Paul Isaacs #isharehope Episode 107

Chris+WilliamsMany thanks to Chris Williams for conducting the interview with me to following the I Share Hope project please click here.

Paul was branded as a “naughty child” at school. He was classically autistic in his early years and gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through mainstream school 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.

After a string of unsuccessful jobs, Paul’s mental health suffered. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy. Paul was diagnosed by an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with High Functioning Autism at 24 years old.

paul-isaacs-i-share-hopePaul wanted to promote autism awareness and help others on the autism spectrum, in the hope that others would not have to suffer as he had. He became a speaker for an autism organisation and has not looked back! Presenting speeches, training and conducting consultancy, Paul is now a freelance speaker, trainer and consultant who continues to raise the profile of autism at every opportunity. Having done much research, he is keen to explain the differences between Asperger’s Syndrome & Autism using Autism Consultant Donna William’s (Polly Samuel’s) ‘Fruit Salad’ model.

Paul firmly believes in retaining the ASD acronym. He says there should not be a negative stigma around the word ‘disorder’. His message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability and every person with autism (and all people) should be a valued member of society.

Paul in his spare time likes to meetup with friends, create art and write poetry which is both a creative and relaxing output for him.

Hope is Universal. It’s for everybody with Paul Isaacs #isharehope Episode 107

Summary: Paul’s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?

Paul Isaacs:

Hope to me is…you got a feeling then create that into action and then hopefully you can make way for the action. Hope is the building blocks of something that you want to change and it could be anything where you actually instill positivity or at least objectivity in someone and go from there. It’s giving someone a realistic framework.

Question 2: Who has shared the most hope with you?

Paul Isaacs:

I would say it’s my parents because they gave me positive foundations, they have given me a sense of real life, introduced me to real life. Not candy-coating it, not giving it any sort of gloss. This is real life. They make me feel that negativity is a normal part of life, failure is a normal part of life, losing is a normal part of life – it’s a part of life. Success is brilliant, but it’s also about learning from failure and understanding your weaknesses.

Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?

Paul Isaacs:

The one thing that was difficult for me as a person looking in hindsight or in retrospect is the way in which the community didn’t understand my behavior or understood where those behaviors were coming from. One of the sad things for me was how my parents were treated. Within the community, a lot of assumptions were made about their parenting skills. I suppose at that point, that would probably be the time where my parents would have wanted someone to talk to about the difficulties. I would say, looking back in hindsight, it was so much to do with me, but it was more to do with the alienation for misunderstanding. I just think it was a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding that caused the initial alienation.

It was constant criticism which then of course hurts the parents and when I went for education, it was never really anything positive. Of course it’s understandable because I was in a mainstream school – this is a non-specialized environment. Again, I’m not bitter at the teachers. Actually, my first year of primary school, that’s five years old and one of the teachers said “I don’t know what to do with him.” She was completely lost, but of course she’d be completely lost. It’s almost if you hear that saying “victim of circumstance”, they weren’t necessarily bad people. It was just a circumstance that happened and then it rolled on from there really.

Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?

Paul Isaacs:

I have only been doing this job for about six years in terms of speeches and consultancy and I have never ever seen a community with absolutely really nasty politics, militancy, bullying. I mean I’ve seen it on social media. I mean someone doesn’t say it’s the status quo, being ganged upon, trolling. I’ve never seen anything like it. Another thing that concerns me is the glamorization. You shouldn’t glamorize anything. Glamorization is not objective. If one size fits all condition so you start saying all autistic people are this and that and the other, what you’re doing is sadly creating a set of stereotypes and in any other context, would stereotypes be acceptable? No.

So, what I’ve learned is don’t get sucked in by it, do what’s in your heart, don’t define yourself or autism that it’s a superpower, that you’re special. The thing that has kept me grounded – I was born a human being like you and like anyone else. I was born a human being so I don’t overinvest in my autism at all. When I go to work, I’m a human being, when I go out there, I’m a human being. I don’t glamorize and I equally don’t demonize the issues. You keep objective. What don’t you hear about in autism? There are people with autoimmune conditions, metabolic disorders, tissue connectivity disorders, and neuropathy, things that affect the body and have an effect on that person’s functioning. In other words, autism is an adjective – it’s not a definition. It’s a stacking of preexisting conditions and depending on the stacking – you can get a more refined stacking, you can get a more complex stacking, you can get a more intermediate stacking.

When I speak, I don’t want you to remember me. I don’t want the ego to take over. I just want people to remember what I said.

Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?

Paul Isaacs:

(1) Get to know people.
(2) Say hello – connect with people.

Listen to the interview with Chris Williams and I on Soundcloud 


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Being Thankful For My Parents

Mum and Dad Early 80s

Please note this is from a personal perspective

It may sound like a cliche in many ways to create a blog with a title such as “Thankful for my parents”  but that is how I feel I know that many people may not for many reasons feel the same as me and that is fine.

I am thankful for them because they  have given me good boundaries, have treated me as a human being then growing up as an infant, teenager and now as an adult, they do not let my disability “define the whole package” (I have written many a blog about that subject), guided me to know that failure and being wrong is normal part of life, to accept and take responsibility for both positive and negative actions, to help people who need it, to always be truthful and be true to yourselves.

I value their sage wisdom as many of these “mantras” and “life skills” come from past mistakes and “failures” but as my parents have noted failures are the fruits of success and success comes in many different forms as example setters for us all.

Paul Isaacs 2016