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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Future Diagnosis’ – A Further look Autism and Asperger “Fruit Salads” & The Inner Mechanics

The Changing Landscape of Autism Diagnosis

Looking how the scope of how the autism diagnosis has changed over the decades here is an overview

  • 1940s and 1950s – Autism was considered a form of attachment disorder
  • 1960s – Autism was considered a form of “childhood psychosis”
  • 1970s and 1980s – Autism was considered a form of mental retardation
  • 1990s – Asperger’s syndrome was added as a diagnostic criteria
  • 2000s to now – Autism and the impact of sensory integration issues

The truth is autism is has different trajectories and components it is best to look at autism as 3 dimensional a stacking of pre-existing syndromes/conditions/disorders that are person-specific.

So let’s look at the breakdown between “Autism” and “Aspergers” Fruit Salad looking at through the lenses of Donna Williams’ analogy.

 

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Autism “Fruit Salad”

 

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Aspergers “Fruit Salad”

 

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Conclusion

On the surface “Autism” and “Aspergers” may appear the “same” but digging deeper and looking at the profile differences and what makes up the differing profiles surely means that the wants, needs and interventions will be specific to the person in question and what they need will not be the same. Autism is not a generic “one size fits all” condition it is made up of many different elements specific to the person.

It is my wish that in the future when some is diagnosed with autism they will look a the full package this would include potentially different professionals being involved if differing diagnosis are willing to be made such as –

  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Neurology Specialists
  • Dietary Specialists
  • Genetic Counselling
  • Gut, Immune and Metabolic Specialists
  • Mental Health Psychologists & Psychiatrists
  • & Other Empowering Interventions

 

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, Alexithymia, Body Disconnection, Mental Health & Loss

Tulips

 

Note – This is from a personal perspective

In short space of time two people dear to me had sadly passed away my Gramp Gilbert Harpwood and my friend Donna Williams (Polly Samuel).

I knew that because of alexithymia I would find this process lag and that I wouldn’t be “emotionally connected” straight away this led me to going day to day with no sort of emotional context at all despite showing on the surface seemingly “connective” emotions they were not connecting with me on the inside.

Alexithymia /ˌlɛksəˈθmiə/ is a personality construct characterized by the subclinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.[1] The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating.[2

Expression Of Grief

After the month and half since my Gramp’s loss and not long after Polly’s I started getting pains in my arm, stabbing and throbbing like a vice was clamped on my left arm. I quickly ruled out tetanus (which is serious bacterial infection) this then progressed into neuropathic – like  pain which was shooting from my neck, jaw, arms, legs, feet and groin “settling” in places for minutes and hours with a “warm”, “tingling” feeling as it moved.

I know this based on having a family history of mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders many things came into place as well as somatisation disorder which is a pseudo pain diversion.

Anxiety and Somatic Disorder

Somatic symptom disorder occurs when a person feels extreme anxiety about physical symptoms such as pain or fatigue. The person has intense thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the symptoms that interfere with daily life.

Anxiety Neuropathic-like Symptoms

Anxiety doesn’t actually create peripheral neuropathy. While anxiety and stress have been thrown around as possible issues that lead to neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy is about nerve damage, not nerve symptoms, and since anxiety is unlikely to cause nerve damage, it can’t technically be peripheral neuropathy.

Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder)

Dermatillomania may be a reflection of a mental health problem. Psychological and behavioural theories suggest that skin picking may be a way of relieving stress or anxiety.

A Dolly Mixture Of Mental Health Conditions

I  know that I have mixture of differing overlapping co-conditions going with my mood disorder being an understandable and normal reaction to grief, skin picking and impulse control disorder which has resulted in my hair being riddled with scabs which is my sub-concious at work, to having excess adrenaline  that is being “stuck” in my body from time to time.

Externalising To Process My Own Emotional States

The alexithymia and associated problems that go with such as body disconnectivty (body agnosias and hemiplegia)  leaving me detached from my own emotional states leaves me also waiting for the emotions to come at a frantic, unprocessed rate leaving me to pick up the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. I have created my own strategies such as writing, poetry and art which help me externalise and thus connect with my own emotional states, thoughts and feelings.

Visual Perceptual Disorders and Mentalising

Another aspect is the visual perceptual disorders which includes simultagnosia (object blindness) assoicated with prosopagnosia (face blindness) and semantic agnosia (meaning blindness) which I have that means my memory isn’t “visual-assoicative ” and I have no “pictures” of “emotional association” so my “meta-reality” (which all people have) has to be externalised.

Remembering

I know that with the slow realisation of my internal states will aid me in the this journey which is a normal journey for human beings, remembering people fondly, the good times, the laughs, the smiles and interactions.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, Emotions, Attachment and Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline Personality Disorder can be a difficult condition to live you may struggle to be “in your own skin”, have issues with “identity” and purpose in life, with other people and may flip-flop between different aspects of what you perceive your identity to be. Your emotional input-output may well disruptive and hindered.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause a wide range of symptoms, which can be broadly grouped into four main areas.

The four areas are:

  • emotional instability – the psychological term for this is ‘affective dysregulation’
  • disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – ‘cognitive distortions’ or ‘perceptual distortions’
  • impulsive behaviour
  • intense but unstable relationships with others

Emotional Dysregulation 

These four main areas may well vary from person to person and emotional instability and modulation may make you vulnerable to teasing and bullying in your early years as the reactions may well be more extreme and unpredictable in nature, you may push people away without realising or cling on to friendships that aren’t there. This can lead to internal problems with modulating one’s own emotions.

Cognitive Distortions, Dissociation & Psychosis

Cognitive distortions can come in many forms and affect how you deal with in particular negative emotions you may “lock them away”, project them through self-harming, other aspects that can distort reasoning are episodes of psychosis and a breakdown of internal and external reality this may be accompanied by episodes of dissociation.

Impulsivity & Challenges In Friendships & Relationships 

The person may want these aspects of life but maintenance for both you and the person you are friends with could be hindered by the symptoms above the changing winds of emotions, a lack of grounded identity and purpose, disruptive and sometimes paranoid thinking and firm and often “black and white” sense of what relationships and friends “should and shouldn’t be”, fear and loss and may have issues with attachment with people around them.

Coming Out The Other End?

I have documented my mental health issues over the years which includes having Borderline Personality Disorder and how that interacts with  the overall package within my “autism” and this is how of have dealt with these negative and sometimes behaviours.

  • People have their own thoughts, feelings and identities and one must respect a person’s autonomy.
  • Grounded sense of “self” I am a whole person with the ability to change.
  • Emotions are human and therefore not “abnormal” and are part of the human existence and managing them is crucial for healthy relationships.
  • All friendships and relationships are unique in their creation some last a lifetime others don’t and one must accept this.
  • I can help and empower people but not overbear them or smother them.
  • Seeking balance has a positive impact in your overall life and existence.

 

Darth Vader shows the key features of BPD 

  • He fears loss of people he is closest too. The Death of his Mother and not having a Father figure
  • He has intense and unstable relationships with the people he loves. His love for Padme and his and Father-figure friend Obi-Wan
  • He suffers from emotional dysregulation and has feelings of intense fear, rage, sadness and sorrow.  “I Hate You!”,  “Where is Padme? Is she safe is she alright?” 
  • He displays impulsivity and cognitive distortions through manipulation of Chancellor Palpatine. “In your Anger you Killed her (Padme)”
  • He has problems with self identity switching from “Anakin” to “Vader”. 

 

I have documented that when dealing with autism you must look at the rounded view that personality types and thus personality disorders can be a part of the package and if this is the case maybe we should looking a little deeper into what that means when managing a person on the autism spectrum who is in emotional crisis and the services that can be provided in the future.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Looking At What “Autism Is” Is That The Future?

I have been is the autism “world” as a speaker, trainer and consultant for well over seven years, I do not pretend to know all the answers nor I do project or promote that I have them all I can only speak from first hand experience of myself and the others that have been involved in professional capacity.

A 3D Diagnosis For The Future?

I what would like to offer a foundation of empowerment not because I know best but to give people the opportunity to find out about their “autism” what is made up of and the “mechanics” that go with it. I have wrote and documented my autism the fact that is made of being brain injured at birth, speech and language delays, sensory agnosias, aphasia, apraxia the fact that I have dealt with mood, impulsive and anxiety disorders also.

The fact that being borderline made me emotionally unstable, struggled with boundaries and also being schizotypal made me odd, aloof and detached from people and at times society. These “elements” are all about of my “mix” and words not only for these “pieces” empower not only the person in question but the services they come into contact with also family and friends.

Fruit Salad 2017

 

Looking Deeper, Looking Forward, Education & Empowerment

I went through my autism “fruit salad” at an event recently and asked if the diagnosis had pointed out the specific pieces how would they have felt? Also would this model benefit them it was a conclusion yes because understanding autism on thing but understanding the pieces of their children’s autism was felt to be very important, helpful, empowering and overall was a beneficiary to the services that they would come in contact with. Giving them not just the word “autism” but what it meant for them specifically.

My Autism Fruit Salad 1 Updated 2017

Autism Fruit Salad 2 2017

Autism Fruit Salad 3 2017

Conclusion

“Autism” is not “one thing” it is specific to each person also people do not have an “autistic personality” exclusive although personality types like solitary, idiosyncratic and conscientious would look more “autistic” but are smaller elements in the overall mix. I do believe that a person’s autism is everything about them because human beings are made up much than one element.

You can get  “non-autistic” personality types the people that challenge the stereotypes who could be equally adventurous and mercurial in their ways. For 2017 lets look at this from a broader perspective and empower people with knowledge that is worthy of making a difference.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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The Importance of Recognising Personality Types In Autism

Note this is from a personal perspective

Personality types are just as relevant to in which a person behaviours and responds to the environment around them, this includes interaction, communication, lifestyle choices, interpersonal choices etc.

Personality Types A Mix & Match

We can break down these personality types into their basic forms. In example I will use three different personality variants (people can have to 4 to 6) however this will simplify the point in question.

Personality Types in Autism 2017 Image

Personality Types Are Valid 

People on the autism spectrum will have personality types within their “autism fruit salad” like all other human beings people have overlapping personality types which can be fluid or concrete, complex or refined, narrow or lengthy which will be dictated by genetics and the environment they are in. They can also spill over into “disordered” extremes.

Is “Autism” All Of A Person? 

 I think that the main factor that gets missed in the overall ensemble when looking at ASD is personality traits/types. To define one’s whole neurology as one’s “self” ego-syntonic were as I see my neurology in terms of autism as part of “self” not the overall picture “ego-dystonic”.

This would surely help professionals, parents, guardians and people on the autism spectrum? To know that part of being a human is to do with the development of these aspects to?

“Autism” It Is Apart Of The Mix Not The Defining Factor 

To put in honestly that fact that I am face-blind isn’t “me” it is just how I processing faces, the fact that have simultagnosia as see in pieces isn’t “me” but is how I process visual information, the fact that I am aphasic and meaning deaf and struggle at times process the words being spoken to me isn’t “me” but is how I deal with receptive language they are part of the package, the fact that I struggle to do simultaneous “self and other” isn’t “me” but it means I need time to gauge and internalise information is again part of the package .

They come along for the ride and my personality types will dictate how I cope, manage and productively find an outcome for these different processing issues I have. If someone isn’t seen as person first then what are they?

Paul Isaacs 2017