Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

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Asperger’s Syndrome & Classic Autism? Or Left Brain, Right Brain Autism “Fruit Salads”?

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The late Polly Samuel’s (Donna Williams) through her career had pointed out that firstly autism was adjective a describer of an experience rather than a definer of a person, she also pointed out through her books and blogs that “autism” is different for each person a clustering and multifaceted condition made of different conditions in both neurology  and biology  and contributing psycho-social factors, identity, mental health and environmental factors

Asperger’s Syndrome – Left Brain Autism


When noting and observing people with Asperger’s Syndrome the part of the brain which is being used to compensate for a disconnect right is the left, people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a condition called social emotional agnosia this means that the person cannot perceive facial expression, body language and tone of voice. Even thought sensory issues may present themselves it would to do with modulation and integration rather than sensory perceptual issues that effect different areas of the brain, faceblindness (prosopagnosia) has a high co-morbidity as well as dyspraxia, alexithymia and literal perception of language. So other words people with AS have to intellectualise in order to compensate for the disconnect in the right.

Characteristics of Right Hemisphere Syndrome: 

– Left visual neglect – an individual may neglect words on the left side of the page or not realize that there are objects on the left side 
– Difficulty with facial recognition 
– Poor awareness of deficits 
– Poor self-monitoring 
– Impulsive behavior
– Poor initiation and motivation 
– Disorientation 
– Impaired attention/memory 
– Difficulty with organization and reasoning/problem – solving 
– Difficulty with social aspects of language (e.g., poor turn taking skills, providing too much information) 
– Difficulty understanding humor 
– Difficulty with word retrieval 

© By Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP Monday, July 25, 2011

Classic Autism – Right Brain Autism

When looking at “classic” autism one makes the impression that the person has (and wrongly) a “lower functioning” variant of AS, this could not be further from the truth people with classic  autism tend to to have receptive and expressive aphasia, verbal agnosia, speech/oral apraxia, and a higher rate of visual perceptual disorders such as simultagnosia and semantic agnosia. However introspection is in tact and just look at the poetry and art.

What if my brain injury or stroke is on the LEFT SIDE of my brain?

Injury to the left side of the brain may result in right-sided weakness and the following communication problems:

  • Receptive Language: Problems with understanding spoken or written language (listening and reading)
  • Expressive Language: Problems with expressing spoken or written language
  • Apraxia of Speech: Problems with programming and coordinating the motor movements for speaking
  • Dysarthria: Aspects of the speech system is impacted, which may result in slurred speech or a change in how your voice sounds
  • Computation: Problems with number and math skills
  • Analyzing: Problems with solving complex problems



Right Brain Left Brain Autism Fruit Salads Image 2017

Differences between Aspergers and Autism ‘fruit salads’?

 In one of my books, The Jumbled Jigsaw, I presented a range of conditions commonly collectively occurring in those with autism and Aspergers. I was asked about the differences between an Aspergers (AS) ‘fruit salad’ and an Autism ‘fruit salad’As an autism consultant since 1996 and having worked with over 1000 people diagnosed on the autism spectrum there are areas that overlap, areas where similar can easily be mistaken for same, and areas that are commonly quite different. Some with AS can present far more autistically in childhood but function very successfully in adulthood. Some with Autism can have abilities and tendencies commonly found in Aspies and some will grow up to function far more successfully than they could in childhood but, nevertheless, when together with adults with Aspergers they each notice that the differences may commonly outweigh the similarities. Generally the more common differences are:

originally called ‘Autistic Psychopathy‘(now outdated)
commonly not diagnosed until mid, even late childhood.
lesser degrees of gut, immune, metabolic disorders, epilepsy and genetic anomalies impacting health systems
mood, anxiety, compulsive disorders commonly onset from late childhood/teens/early adulthood as a result of bullying, secondary to social skills problems, secondary to progressive self isolation and lack of interpersonal challenge/involvement/occupation.
scotopic sensitivity/light sensitivity more than simultagnosia
most have social emotional agnosia & around 30% have faceblindness but usually not due to simultagnosia
literal but not meaning deaf
social communication impairments, sometimes selective mutism secondary to Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)
sensory hypersensitivities more than sensory perceptual disorders
higher IQ scores due to less impaired visual-verbal processing
tendency toward Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), Schizoid rather than Schizotypal Personality Disorder and commonly Dependent Personality Disorder to some level.
higher tendency to AvPD rather than Exposure Anxiety
Alexithymia is common
ADHD common co-occurance but may be less marked than in those with autism.

Once known as Childhood Psychosis (now outdated)
generally there is always some diagnosis before age 3 (those born before 1980 were still usually diagnosed before age 3, although commonly with now outdated terms like ‘psychotic children’, ‘disturbed’, ‘mentally retarded’, ‘brain damaged’.
higher degrees and severity of gut, immune, metabolic disorders, epilepsy and genetic anomalies impacting health systems
mood, anxiety, compulsive disorders commonly observed since infancy
commonly amazing balance but commonly hypotonia
simultagnosia/meaning blindness rather than just scotopic sensitivity
verbal agnosia/meaning deafness
verbal communication impairments (aphasia, oral dyspraxia, verbal agnosia and associated echolalia and commonly secondary Selective Mutism)
lower IQ scores associated with higher severity of LD/Dyslexia/agnosias
tendency toward OCD/Tourettes, also higher rate of Schizotypal PD, DPD is common and tends to be more severe
higher tendency to Exposure Anxiety more than AvPD
higher tendency toward dissociative states (dissociation, derealisation, depersonalisation)
poetry by those with autism as opposed to AS commonly indicates those with autism can have high levels of introspection, insight
ADHD extremely common co-occurrence

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.

Reflective Conclusion

It is simple people need to start looking at the functioning of the brain and how these different systems work for different people. This will in turn create advocacy which is not only meaningful and beneficial but character building and the correct information will give a broader foundation and palette to work from. I have autism (as opposed to AS) not because I am just “saying it” but because of what part of my brain effected.

What I am not saying (and never will say) is that I am speaking for all that would be disservice to many peoples realities. I am fully aware that this may challenge people me saying there are differences however looking at the neurology behind it and Polly’s observations I think there is room for healthy discussion.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Tinted Lenses, Visual Perceptual Disorders and Bridging The Gap Between “Non-Visual and Visual Worlds”

Note – This is from a personal perspective

Visual Agnosia Image 2017 


Some people on the autism spectrum have problems with filtering visual information which in turn distorts perception and what one is seeing, interpretation what someone takes out of what is being seen in terms of context and association and mentalisation that ability to internalise and integrate the visual memory in the form of a coherent, connected and retrievable memory.


If people live in a world of being object blind and meaning blind and ultimately context blind this can have an impact on socialising, bounding, learning and having the ability to retrieve multiple forms of incoming visual information at once. Tints work for people in different ways (if they are needed at all) – for some its sensory integration disorder, for some it is a level of dyspraxia, information overload and coordination, for some it is building up a visual context because of simultagnosia and/or semantic agnosia, for some its processing faces, for some its recognising and building upon and reading social cues, for some it is getting a sense of “self and other”, for some it is visual learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and being able to read and write with coherence, for some its aphasia and/or verbal agnosia and gaining a better grasp of language.

Donna Williams 2011


70% of incoming information is visual and we take that information in as light waves – essentially as color. Tinted lenses are filters. They filter out different light waves. This reduces the level of incoming information which leaves a person more processing time. This can have different effects in different people. For some it may just help them relax more or feel more comfortable looking at faces or making eye contact, help them handle places with bright lights or being outside. For some it will allow them to read comfortably and with meaning or improve depth perception. For others it may help them better process language and ultimately speak more fluently. For some it may help them see things as a whole and recognise objects, faces, places, and begin to read context and social cues or have a better processing of a simultaneous sense of self and other.

Donna Williams 

Tinted lenses have helped me glue together a world which was largely bits and pieces that seemed shattered and unendurable, people shatter into fragments, objects floating with no clear base, foreground and background interchangeable, familiar voices with no face that seemed to match the warmth of familiarity. My language was also impacted to a certain degree with no internalisation of the visuals around me. Now I have tints they have made able to see faces with a level of coherence, looking at faces now I see a “whole” rather than “pieces” I am able to focus on their movements, body language and words, I can walk down the street and look at faces, places and people with a level with a level of coherence, I am able to better gauge “self and other” in conversations. I still have visual perceptual disorders however the tints have opened up and bridged my “non-visual to visual” world greatly.

Paul Isaacs 

Paul Isaacs 2017

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The System Of “Sensing” – My Friend The Colour Red

Postbox 2017

Note this is from a personal perspective 

My Friend The Colour Red

I see you without knowing

You are shown with no wanting need

My evoked body halted and time is stood still

Static and moveless body with a kaleidoscopic brain

My dizzying heights stupor the as my eyes grow wider

A peeking smile peeped across the face of the moment

What stickly feeling that evoked with the a swirling eternal colour

The System of Sensing 1998 2007

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome and “Doing vs. Being”

When we some people look at Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism it can be used interchangeably as the “same thing” but a “different presentation” between the two. If we look a little (or a lot) deeper you can actually find that the differences lie in brain hemisphere dominance and neglect and all that comes with it.


Reliant on the mapping of pattern/theme/feel known as ’Sensing’, with intermittent use
of interpretative processing at the level of the literal
Mono tracked processing with moderate to severe information processing delay.
Indirectly Confrontational, self in relation to self

The struggle here is the use of switching between “being” and “doing” states this means that the person is going from a “sensing” state to an interpretive state.


Interpretative processing at the level of the literal intermittent processing
beyong the literal to the ’significant’,
Generally Mono tracked processing with mild information processing delay

Those with Exposure Anxiety are indirectly-confrontational and self in relation to
self. Others are able to manage directly confrontational other-initiated social
interaction but generally lack a simultaneous sense of self and other

The struggle here is the opposite the use switching between “doing” and “being” this means that although the person gets a level of “significance”  they may get “stuck” in a state of over thinking.

Exposure Anxiety is one of the three faces of “Autism”
Notes from a presentation by Donna Williams
At Flinders University, Friday Jan 16th 2004

Autism Doesn’t Run On”One” System

There is not one “system” in autism and that is part of the larger issue, by promoting tired stereotypes and linear 2D presentations of “collective autism” in which the person is assumed to think, act, react and behave in the same manner is rather passe and potentaily dangerous.

Looking deeper, being objective and opened minded to the varying presentations that both “Autism” and “Asperger” fruit salads supply as an adjective and a description can lead down to meaningful roads of empowerment.



Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, “Stored Responses”, Language, Processing Delay & Unconscious Thought

Language Processing Delay 2017

Note This from a personal perspective 

Conscious and Unconscious Processing 

The problem even though I have progressed in many areas is switching between conscious and unconscious patterns of thinking, this in term has an impact on my ability to keep with incoming information in this case verbal, the ability to think consciously about what how to answer and also gauge the emotional significance of it.

“Stored Responses” & Unknown Knowing

I have come to realise that have rapporteur of “stored verbal responses” which come out at moments when I cannot process information in real-time these can look sometimes stilted, disinterested or “vacant” this is because I have level of social-emotional agnosia due to visual perceptual disorders and receptive/expressive language disorders as a result of aphasia.  This jutting between a conscious response and conscious acknowledgment  when most of my thought process’ that are “connected” in unconscious states means I now looking at ways of trying to marry my thoughts in a more connected manner this comes through typing in which the information I type hasn’t consciously gone in and unconsciously comes out as Donna puts comes as a surprise to the person in question as it may do to the people around them.

“Being” and “Sensing”

Donna Williams explains how the senses of a person with autism work, suggesting that they are ‘stuck’ at an early development stage common to everyone. She calls this the system of sensing, claiming that most people move on to the system of interpretation which enables them to make sense of the world. In doing so, as well as gaining the means of coping with the world, they lose various abilities which people with autism retain.

I can exist in state of being for hours on end that is were my process’s lie I observe without a conscious “knowing” or “interpretation” of what is going on around me as the however on an introspective level it is being so. I connect far more broadly and deeply through touch and texture. I am primarily a kinesthetic thinker/processor.

Being A Silent Observer

I have observed the world “silently” however I wasn’t really “silent” in the literal sense speech was not only delayed but late to be functionally meaningful, words swilled in my mind however grasping them for context and meaning was a struggle to say the least as I grew into later infanthood my verbal speech impinged on my jutting my conscious thought with “sounds” that did not represent the “inner world” I resided in.  I am solitary and idiosyncratic and that has no doubt coloured my perceptions as much as the other part of my “autism fruit salad”.

Paul Isaacs 2017



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

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

Differing Profiles

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

Definition vs Describing vs Identification 

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


Human Beings First

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

Paul Isaacs 2017



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Autism and Asperger’s Different Trajectories and Different Presentations?


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

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


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

With Myself


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



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

Donna Williams

Related image


Different Trajectories 

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

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

Things Foundly Remembered

I saw your face with my hands

A voice a distant echo but foundly acknowledged

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

A new place everywhere to be eagerly explored upwards and onwards

Flomping along the globblyness unstuck and unshackled my hands are free

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

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


Paul Isaacs 2017