Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

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The Cognitive Aspects of Autism

Note This Is From a Personal Perspective

Image result for Donna Williams autism

I used to think I was stupid and there are many things which are a struggle. It’s hard for me to tell a garlic crusher from a can opener. I sometimes can’t visually recognise my own husband. I lose the meaning of things I’m not physically using so cooking and running water can be a problem. There is often no left or right in my world and up and down sometimes tumble too. I use objects to track my thought externally or have to type it out to experience it after it hits the screen. I often can’t tell if I like something, whether I’m hungry or whether I had a good day. But I can do so many things that people really struggle to understand how extremely uneven abilities can occur in the one person. But in fact, that is the cognitive definition of autism.

Donna Williams 2009

Cognition vs. Expression

I don’t know on a conscious level what I am always doing, thinking or feeling which means in responses that on the surface seem very “limited” or “surface” an action creates a response but not always a “connected” one.

I can however type long reams of introspective and emotional material on a unconscious level which seems paradoxically detached from what I can say verbally at times. My inner world is far more richer than at times what I can get out verbally. This lends to personality types which are more attunded to empathy I show this through art and poetry.

“Sensing” vs. Intellectual Procesing

I can see that this is to do with the residual aspects of being meaing deaf, context and meaning blind, information processing delays and langauge processing issues. I have found over the years “pathways” of extraction such as art and poetic writings. I “be” and the puzzle seems to all come together with an “unknown knonwingness” that I cannot do when I am in a more concious state as contrdicatry as it sounds one gets less out of me.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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So What is Simultagnosia & Semantic Agnosia? In The Context Of Autism?

Image result for occipital lobes and simultagnosia

Note: This is from a personal perspective

Simultagnosia is a condition that effects the occiptal lobes of the brain this is where visual perception and processing is connected, it also can have an impact on visual association, language perception/processing and overall navigation of the visual world around you.


For me it meant not being able to access the visual world with coherence rendering me unable to access with my “eyes” and having to build up the visual world in a “non-visual” way such as.

  • Smelling
  • Touching 
  • Sculpting
  • Licking
  • Tapping
  • Moving

This started early in my development with my Mum’s observations thinking I was both deaf and blind (which is a common observation with people with visual agnosias) I was imprinting through EXTERNAL stimulus to build up a representation and connecting through other sensory modulations to make sense of the experience around me.

“Mapping” A System

As I have got older and with more awareness of the condition I have system in place where I do not hide anything from my view and placement of objects are important in relation to their context.

Context & Relevance

I still have a level of context blindness which means that things that are not being used “lose there relevance” (what they are, their use and function in relation to the environment) I may mistake objects for other things entirely and/or be caught up in how they make me feel rather than what they are.

Paul Isaacs 2018



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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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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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Book Review Autism Decoded: The Cracks in the Code: Volume 1 By Stella Waterhouse


This books is a must read for parents, professionals and people on the autism spectrum 

Stella Waterhouse has been a professional in the field of autism since the 1970’s with a whole wealth information that taps into the very soul with resonance and deep thought, she clear has a passion for getting the knowledge out there by presenting different aspects in chapters with detailed and accessible writing.

From detailed historical elements of autism, professionals and advocates on the autism spectrum  written with eager candor, emotion and objectivity to the multi-faceted nature of autism broken  down into accessible  pieces.

  • Sensory Perceptual Disorders
  • Sensory Processing
  • Theory of Mind
  • Context Blindness
  • Language Processing
  • Exposure Anxiety 
  • Alexithymia
  • Personality Types
  • OCD, ADHD and other co-conditions
  • Short/Long Term Memory
  • System of “Sensing”
  • Facilitated Communication 
  • Left-Right Brain Functions & Brain Development 
  • Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome 
  • Savantism

The running theme in book contextual to the information based on the specific chapter is to give a human element that touches the reader, makes them think, reflect, perspective take, feel emotion and more.(with first person account and historical accounts).Woven with relative and  factual elements (such as the brain and nervous system) that broaden the palette and overall sphere of information giving rounded, objective and fluidity the runs from page to page.

This is a refreshing book that achieves the very title it was given looking beyond the stale and liner 2D nature of autism and opening up a broadening 3D perspective that will no doubt help generations to come. Highly recommended.

Paul Isaacs 2017