Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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I Am Not Special – Just A Human & Part Of Humanity – Autism is Part Of Not The Centre Of

Act for Autism Event 2022

Act For Autism – Autism & Transition To Adulthood Event this morning I was talking about my “Living Through The Haze” and life on the autism spectrum from a personal perspective.

Birthing Complications & Trajectory

Covering the early aspects of birth, placental abruption and prematurity – with an association with language processing and visual perception.

Agnosias, Aphasia, Context & Connection

Being a meaning deaf, meaning blind & object blind child whom lived and communicated by pattern, theme and feel, externalising – sniffing, licking, tapping, rubbing and to internalise and how that impacts language association.

Being so faceblind that I didn’t recognise my own face in washrooms and mirrors until mid-teens (thinking it was a girl).

Once functional speech came it was that of a three year old (expressively) and exposure anxiety made the directly confrontational world difficult to navigate.

Being pain dead and body disconnection and not reacting to physical trauma.

Autism, Mental Health & Personality – How That Impacts on Self

Secondary conditions such as mood disorders, OCD & dissociation came while in infancy and more complex conditions such as schizotypal, borderline personality disorders, psychosis and auditory hallucinations came in the guise of a nervous breakdown in 2007/08.

I was diagnosed with autism in 2010 and visual perceptual disorders in 2012.

But I still “buzz”at lights, twinkles, colours, shimmer and shine, sounds and words.

The ups, downs and in-betweens of education, employment, autism as a fruit salad, autism, asperger’s & “aspiauts” profiles.

The Human Factor Of Complexity

We (as human persons) are all walking fruit salads, patchwork quilts, raw ingredients yet to be cooked etc. I know my story is my own (I am not representing all) and that is fine.

Overview of Speech & Reflective Points

– Living with significant information processing challenges.

Agnosias (body, face, object, auditory and semantic and this impacted perception/learning & attachment)

Alexithymia (not perceiving self social/emotional feedback)

Oral Apraxia (and words not being able to escape)

Aphasia (language processing and phonics being distorted)

– Not getting a shared sense of social until my late twenties

Living Half and World (hemiplegia).

– Living in a world were interpretive language was not “king” and “feel speak” was/is.

Exposure Anxiety that in its extremes denies selfhood.

Not being logical and literal in navigating the external world (akin to a mind full of confetti)

Personality Disorders that make one feel “mad”

– Seeing that being human is more significant than anything else no more and no less

For All These Pieces What Then?

“Paul” is made up of many things from my upbringing, my landscaped enviroment and people I have met. I stay steadfast in the middle not wanting to indulge, over-invest in such artifices of identity because people as humans are made up of so much more then one word, one label and one describer.

I value the depth nature of human connection beyond the notions of separate invisible lines drawn amongst the invisible sand of othering. For bigotry and denial of shared humaness is still a saddened treading of human mindscapes. I am simply a person who didn’t ask to born (as we all are) so I must take what I have use it with yearning for a fantasy of what “life could be like”.

“Autism” just is “is” it doesn’t define a person in totality and to the path of weathered extremes is like being in the eye of the storm you observe the chaos within the peace – we are (as human beings not a group) made up of multiple ingredients and the same for autism, no one profile is the same, no one experience is the same.

You Cannot Save Anyone – Selfhood Comes From Within

Giving yourself but having steadfast notable autonomy of self cared nuances uplift the soul from the caged stones of uncertainty to the angel whom may fear his wings to be severed a half life deserted.

An eternal garden of one’s own can be tended with up most clarity ladened meanderings of the brain cages experiences of the outer flesh world. Our pastures memories plucked and resown eternal.

You cannot save anybody in this world from the internal torments of their baron life pastures full of bloodied thorns, grating sole that burns the mind soul with every movement. You offer helped hands and give them alone the chance to create their own life seedlings a chance to saunter in new foundational nutrients

One must be able to tend to their mind sphere and understand that giving guidance doesn’t mean plucked ears will clad into the pollen so earnest, tempered responsibility means your selfhood as on going footings most balanced to another.

If people have a baron mindset a tear may be shed for their lives pained thorn throne which their body has been punctured for a lifetime of hardships, however the ploddings are meeting are but an husk for the internal bile that ferments.

To come to internal peace one must look inside out and lurk amount the multiple embryos of sadness, embrace them, be kindly and let them settle as the venom sloshes out and you are reborn through the thronged mossy motherhood.

Paul Isaacs 2022


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Exposure Anxiety – Working With Involuntary Compulsive Avoidance, Diversion & Retaliation Responses

Note this from a personal perspective of Autism & Exposure Anxiety

Viewing Exposure Anxiety As Ego-Dystonic In Adulthood

When I was younger I used view Exposure Anxiety as a part of selfhood in which it was both sanctuary and a cage, a place reside and to hide and place to regulate from the intensity of the nervous system response it would create.

Selfhood, Personality & Mental Health

My view of selfhood has progressed over the past decade with an understanding of personality types, attachment, sociability, core beliefs, outlooks, environmental adjustment and the disordered extremes which can a do entrench functioning.

Mercurial/Borderline, Solitary/Schizoid, Idiosyncratic/Schizotypal, Self-Sacrificing/Masochistic & Serious/Depressive.

I was diagnosed with Borderline & Schizotypal Personality Disorders in 2008 along with mental health conditions auditory hallucinations and psychosis.

Exposure Anxiety, Core Self & Perception

It has come to my attention through two friends also on the autism spectrum that Exposure Anxiety still has an impact on my ability to converse and interact. Impacting on friendships and a shared sense of social. I thank them for pointing this out as it clear on reflection it still is having an impact.

Here is how presentation EA presents currently (the reactions aren’t personal to the listener but a reaction to exposure the compulsive need to “get rid of” the feeling.)

  • Socially Distancing Dialogues & Observations
  • Stilted Telegraphic Language
  • Bouts of Temporary Mutism

How this relates to core self is for you to imagine if you wanted to want, wanted to be, wanted to connect but your nervous system response is blocking to protect the “core self” through a complex nervous system response it could dictate and take over the original contextual reasoning of the conversation.

Perception is multifaceted and also gaps in knowledge are perfectly acceptable, if my reactions are causing potential upset, sadness, frustration or even anger for that I am sorry because regardless of its underpinnings that is the reality for the people involved not myself.

From a personality perspective I am naturally solitary only letting a few people in to my world on a personal level.

Riding Along With Other Information Processing Challenges

Alexithymia means I do not always understand or verbalise my own emotional states in real time, then there is social perception which for me is a mixture of simultagnosia, semantic agnosia coupled with a language processing disorder meaning conscious thought and mentalising internal frameworks and word association can be slower.

Shared Sense Of Social

A reduced ability to get a shared social sense of self and other can be seen in the in Conscientious/Obsessive Compulsive & Solitary/Schizoid personality types/disordered variants. It can make people feel like they aren’t being listen back they aren’t receiving the “feedback” in real time.

It is also be seen in autism “fruit salads” to varying different degrees, presentations with varying components and this can have impact of connected responses and internalisation processes – all self and no other or all other and no self.

Failure Is My Friend

As odd and as counter intuitive as it sounds I am pleased to have met and embraced failure in this area, it keeps me balanced, humble, objective and understanding (at least from my own personal view) how brilliantly unimportant I am in the vastness of the universe.

Paul Isaacs 2022


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Halloween – Autism, Information Processing, Sensory Integration, Perception & Beyond

Note this is been broken down into three accessible and relatable aspects of the holidays with different observations of what could be happening – this is from a personal and professional perspective

Halloween that other traditions (old, new and reformed) happen at certain times of of the year, in which people act accordingly with the customs made. In its more commercial form Halloween includes buying costumes and masks, going around the neighbourhood asking for sweets – trick or treat and so forth.

I am going to go through some of the potential challenges that could present themselves during these festivities.

Fireworks

Those with sensory hypersensitive (sensory integration challenges), auditory processing challenges and hyperacusis may have problems with filtering the noises of the fireworks that could lead to emotional dysregulation and distress, developing phobias such as phonophobia.

This can be broken down into two processing aspects

Sensory Integration (auditory hyper-sensitivity, hyperacusis)

Auditory Agnosia (perception of sound and not knowing its origin)

Phonophobia definition

Phonophobia, also called ligyrophobia or sonophobia, is a fear of or aversion to loud sounds (for example fireworks)—a type of specific phobia.

It is a very rare phobia which is often the symptom of hyperacusis. Sonophobia can refer to the hypersensitivity of a patient to sound and can be part of the diagnosis of a migraine. Occasionally it is called acousticophobia.

Symptoms of Phonophobia

Desire to flee
Intense fear of loud sounds
Excessive Sweating
Irregular heartbeat.
Nausea or dizziness
Panic Attack (fight, flight or freeze)
Fainting
Severe mood swing after hearing the loud sound (emotional regulation)
Animals

Because of the dogs attuned hearing to pitch a frequencies they also react to sudden sounds which may also provoke feelings of fear, anxiety, aggression also there have been cases of animals being struck by fireworks it is wise to keep them inside.

Knocking On Doors

There could be a mixture of challenges going on here those with social emotional agnosia secondary social anxiety/social phobia may find the interactions difficult, for others it could be language processing (aphasia, verbal agnosia) and following the conversation with the inability to mentalise and also people with communication challenges (oral apraxia/body apraxia) whom struggle to express and need time to do so with presumption of competence.

Different processing challenges to consider

Social emotional agnosia (social perception, not perceiving body langauge, facial expression and/or tone of voice (atonia)

Aphasia and/or verbal agnosia (perception and processing of language, internalising and mentalising)

Apraxia (communication impact by movement of body and speech organs)

Topographical disorientation (challenges with recognising landmarks and places within their neighbourhood)

Sweets & Chocolates

For some people on the autism spectrum this could be a problem for people whom have dietary challenges, food intolerances and malabsorption. This could lead to the person becoming unwell such as stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and distress for the person.

Conclusion

When looking at the specific challenges that could and do present themselves it is important to try and internalise these potential experiences from the person’s perspective.

How do these experiences feel to the person?
What accommodations can I make to help?
Are you giving the person direction and autonomy?

Paul Isaacs 2021


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Anna Kennedy – Autism & Information Processing Workshop

Information Processing Challenges Covered In Workshop

This workshop gives an overview of some (of the many) information processing challenges that people on the autism spectrum experience.

Paul Isaacs 2021


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Autism Bucks Workshop – Autism & Sensory Issues

This is the third workshop presentation is about autism and sensory issues, such as integration, agnosias and sensory amplification.

Further Reading & Links

Sensory Integration Disorder

Sensory Agnosias In Autism

Somatic Amplification (Common with Mental Health Conditions, Asperger’s Syndrome and Alexithymia)

Visual Perceptual Disorders In Autism

Body Agnosias In Autism

Pain Agnosias In Autism

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism Bucks Workshop – Autism As A Fruit Salad

This second workshop is an expansion of autisms using Donna William’s “fruit salad” analogy as the basis. I shall be adding links to expanding on some of the aspects which I spoke about.

Further Reading and Links

Autism & Social Emotional Agnosia

Autism & Alexithymia

Autism & Simultagnosia

Autism & Faceblindness

Autism & Auto-immune Disorders

Autism & Genetic Syndromes

Autism & Dietary Disabilities

Autism & Language Processing Disorders

Autism & Communication Disorders

Autism & Dyspraxia

Autism & Self and Other Integration & System of Sensing

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism, Information Processing and Coronavirus

See the source image

Note – This is from a personal perspective 

Alexithymia & Emotional Processing 

Not knowing one’s own emotional states means that I struggle to connect my conscious and unconscious mind, incoming information doesn’t filter into a connected thought, feeling and inner response which is marrying up with my inner states.

Visual Perceptual Disorders, Aphantasia & Mentalising 

Aphantasia is a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery.[1] The phenomenon was first described by Francis Galton in 1880[2] but has since remained largely unstudied. Interest in the phenomenon renewed after the publication of a study in 2015 conducted by a team led by Professor Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter,[3] which also coined the term aphantasia.[4] Research on the condition is still scarce.[5][6]

Visual learning is the most common form of accessing the information around you, I cannot  retrieve visual information and I do not have a “visual mind’s eye” this is called aphantasia. The aspects that I struggle with are visual fragmentation and simultagnosia (object blindness) and a residual level of semantic agnosia (meaning blindness). So watching the news and making visual-verbal connections takes time for me to access and apply meaning with my system which is largely kinesthetic in nature.

Tactile – Associative Synesthesia & Building Frameworks

There are many different types of synesthesia, but they may be categorized as falling into one of two groups: associative synesthesia and projective synesthesia. An associate feels a connection between a stimulus and a sense, while a projector actually sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes a stimulation. For example, an associator might hear a violin and strongly associate it with the color blue, while a projector might hear a violin and see the color blue projected in space as if it were a physical object.

The way in which I build up frameworks is always on an emotive level I am unaware of my feelings from moment to moment, so I have to EXTERNALISE unconsciously in to text which can be creative in content, emotive and introspective and/or art work which can be abstract an metaphorical in representation. I am not a literal, logical processor of information and I do not have social emotional agnosia  that comes from disconnection of right hemisphere. So INTERNALISATION  comes from the marriage creative process as opposed to overtly factual and linear ones.

Aphasia & Language Processing 

Currently I am around 30 percent meaning deaf which means I can take in large amounts of information for a a short period of time, however I may begin to be flooded with a vast a array of language in which my mind cannot keep up with, it becomes distorted and slowly meaningless, so managing my time and input is crucial.

Conclusion

It is best for people to understand their own autism “fruit salad” and what works for them during times of great uncertainty and distress, build up a level of self-awareness or have someone around you that healthily acknowledges your challenges but still retains the autonomy and respect of seeing you as person.

Paul Isaacs 2020

 


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Autism, Mentalising, Alexithymia & Introspection

Note – This is from a personal perspective

Language Processing, Alexithymia, Visual Perception and Mentalising

As a child I was unable to process language with meaning this meant that the ability marry words with association, then the ability to reason those words into a meta-reality (context and how they “looked”). I was severely face blind, object blind and meaning blind this meant the inability to visual internally my external world meant that I had to use my body to EXTERNALISE to INTERNALISE in other words I mapped out my world through placement, smell, texture, movement and taste.

Body Disconnection, Exposure Anxiety and Dissociation

I was unable to map out my own body, its parts, their placement in association with me or the outside world so I had a level of body agnosias which meant my body with FRAGMENTED as well as my vision and internalisation of receptive language. My conscious mind was seemingly blank as I subconsciously took in the information around me in but was unable to consciously piece it together despite the fact is was near hiding in plain site, akin to playing smoke and mirrors but with my own self.

Exposure anxiety rendered me powerless when confronted with “self” the awareness of my own self existence was too powerful for me to handle. So I disassociated, created characters (each assigned duties, personality types, communication styles) to handle the task of being exposed, mutism, echolalic litanies (once functional speech was acquired).

However I seemed to retain the ability to have introspection, the system of sensing still means I FEEL first and then have to unpick the interpretation secound.
The Self and Other Paradox

Fast track to know I had an experience in which I got to that level which I have described bearing in mind this had not happened in roughly 23 Years! It was shock was unable to do a shared self and other (which can last up to two hours plus), language was losing meaning, visuals where fragmenting (I made error of taking my tints off) and I was feeling detached coming out with stock phrases and it made me think about how I was then

So with help, kindness and assistance of friends and colleagues I was able to map and piece together my emotional states through three videos.
Loss

This video signifies loss that the emotional roller-coaster of meeting loss head on, the process of emotion, the realisation, the impact it has on you and other around them and the great sense of vulnerability that comes with it.

Light and Hope

This video is more metaphor and symbolical in its reverence with me the smoke that plums as he enters the arena is has a great impact on me as it represents hope through the darkness, as he walks to the ring a single light envelopes him which for me feels that light can be achieved in times of such darkness, the creating of light towards end is hope.

This Detachment of Self and Other

The final video to me represents my sometimes lack of ability to get a shared sense of “self and other” and “shared social” in which my conscious thoughts are not married up straight away with other and vise versa, when I LOSE the ability to keep the process becomes mechanical, artificial the automata represents this aspect and also ALL SELF and Casanova represents ALL OTHER .

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism, Mentalising & Gestalt Perception

Note this is from person perspective

Gestalt perception can account for both strengths and weaknesses of autistic perception. On the one hand, they seem to perceive more accurate information and a greater amount of it. On the other hand, this amount of unselected information cannot be processed simultaneously and may lead to information overload. Autistic people may experience gestalt perception in any sensory modality.

Olga Bogdashina 2014

About a month ago I was a friend of mine who is a speech and language therapist who works with people with autism, brain injuries (associated with language processing) other other neurological conditions.

Visual Perception & Memory

She asked me about how I mentalise the world around despite having challenges with visual-verbal connections and the ability to “marry” words and images together. This made me think about how I piece my “world” together and what tools I have used to do so. So she suggested about a simple memory comparison which was to see in the mind’s eye a generic church figure which she could.

Sensory Associative Memory

I said that when I think of a church I think of the feel and texture of the grass, the feel of the aged stone walls, the loud squeak of the wooden door, the musky smell of the aged church. She said can you bring all the those senses (experiences) together. I said I cannot as I think of them one sense at a time.

There appear to be multiple pathophysiological mechanisms that result in apperceptive visual agnosia. These may be related to the misperception of shapes due to defects in representing the elementary properties of curvature, surface and volume149 or failure to integrate multiple elements into a perceptual whole.150 Patients with severe apperceptive agnosia usually have extensive and diffuse occipital lesions and tend to have residual field defects.151

D. Tranel, A.R. Damasio, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001

Conclusion

It’s clear that I have documented about having faceblindness, object blindness and meaning blindness which of course leads to “blindisms” in visual surroundings in which one has “context blindness” in which objects, faces and places lose their significance and visual-verbal meaning.

However it is clear from this conversation that the way in which I store memories through fragmented pieces of information bring about and evoke an emotional connection with what I am talking about.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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Autism, Hemiplegia, Body Agnosias and Textured Insoles

Note this is from a personal perspective
Hemiplegia in Children

I have written in previous blogs about my challenges in the area of hemiplegia which was due to brain injury I had due to complications birth and body disconnection this has meant complications in the area of gait (movement and locomotion), pressure and depth.

Symptoms to Look Out For

Keep in mind that symptoms will vary according to each child. While some children may exhibit all symptoms, others may only exhibit a few. The common symptoms associated with hemiparetic and hemiplegic CP consist of:
Using only one hand while playing, typically surfacing before the age of three
Constantly keeping one hand balled into a fist
Unusually long delay in reaching developmental milestones
Extreme stiffness and/or muscle weakness on one side of the body
Balance and walking problems

Copyright Causes of Hemiparetic or Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Body Disconnection and Low Muscle Tone

Body disconnection has had an impact on my gait also in you think about not being about to perceive the pressure points of movement (toe and heel pressure), direction of legs and knee placement as well as having poor core muscle strength which is my case I feel was to do with being premature and having mild hypermobility/low muscle tone which may have also contributed to my problems with expressive language.

Insoles and Conclusion

Phoebe Caldwell contacted me sometime ago with regards to trying out some insoles which are supplied by a company called Revs Lights and here is my feedback from my experiences of them.

  • Increased input in perceptual awareness of my “feet”.
  • Increased awareness of the pressure needed which had a positive impact on locomotion.
  • Feelings of fatigue have improved due to improve perceptual input and correcting of gait formation and locomotion.
  • Information processing “blockage” has been freed allowing and freeing up space more
  • I feeling of “coherence” and overall grounding improving mood and anxiety disorders

Paul Isaacs 2019