Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Asperger’s Syndrome & “Classic” Autism – Left Brain Autism & Right Brain Autism “Fruit Salads”

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

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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

© 2016 CONSTANT THERAPY

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:

ASPERGERS
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
dyspraxia
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.

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.
http://www.donnawilliams.net

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 affected.

What I am not saying (and never will say) is that I am speaking for all that would be disservice to many people’s 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 2019


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Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism? – 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.

Autistic’

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.

Asperger’s’

Interpretative processing at the level of the literal intermittent processing
beyond 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 potentially 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.

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Paul Isaacs 2019


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Autism & Identity

I have never seen all of my being as autistic because the word is an adjective a describing word of an experience.

Current Experiences

I experience face blindness, object blindness and meaning blindnessas I do a language processing disorder, hemiplegia, body agnosias and associated learning difficulties.

Past-Tense Experiences

There are also experiences in the past tense such as over coming oral apraxia, high levels of exposure anxiety, selective mutism and gaining functional speech although it was a long road to doing so.

Personality Types

I have personality types such as Mercurial, Idiosyncratic, Self-Sacrificing and Serious (all human beings have personality types of varying types).

Conclusion

Autism is not ALL it is PART OF I see myself as a person a patchwork quilt made of many things. Autism just “is” I am neither proud nor ashamed. I seek balance not objectification. 😊

Paul Isaacs 2019


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Autism and Anti- Bullying Week – Advocating & Acknowledging Different Autism “Fruit Salads”

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The word “autism” is a describing adjective of and “experience” and multi-layered condition of “conditions” a “fruit salad” as the late Donna Williams had noted from looking at her own autism and observation of others through her consultancy work.

So with that in mind what can bullying be down to? Many factors of course can be noted such as perceived vulnerability and/or threat, a noted and/or varied amount of insecurities within the bully themselves and of course any other contributing environmental factors that propel and/or ignore or not acknowledge that bullying is happening so what can be the contributing factors? Within in a person’s “autism fruit salad”?

Social emotional agnosia

This is to do with social perception so if someone doesn’t read body language, tone of voice or facial expression all they have left is facts this could lead the person to being picked on, left out and struggle to integrate into conversations between their peers and/or left overwhelmed.

Simultagnosia (Object blindness) & Prosopagnosia (Faceblindness)

The person may perceive things in pieces and not wholes making visual tracking of the environment difficult to manage meaning they are “lost” and struggle to find connections and visual coherence.

They may also have faceblindness as well meaning blindness meaning that bounding with the peoples via their peers faces is difficult. Leading to errors in communication and not knowing who people are, this may lead to teasing and/or bullying by their peers.

Semantic Agnosia (Meaning blindness)

Seventy percent of information is visual so what if a person on the spectrum is only using thirty percent information to perceive? They may use their hands, feet, tongue and body to externalise their surroundings in order to internalise, this includes objects and people.

As this system may not be fully understood by their peers around them it may lead to social misunderstandings, fear and/or exclusion due to a person being highly tactile.

Integration of “Self and Other”

Some people with autism may struggle with a “shared” sense of “social” the developmental underpinnings are to do with development of language and possibly having a more multi-tracked system of bringing together multiple forms of information at once.

So the person may only be able to do “all self no other” meaning the person may seem to not listen to others and project, and/or not project and not answer when it’s the other way round “all self no other” this could lead to teasing because of the lack of fluency between the “switching” by peers.

Meaning Deafness

Differing levels of language processing means that the person may not be able to keep track of what is being said, its relevance and or significance. If the person is resorted to just hearing “sounds” and not bridging the sounds into “meaning” the person may struggle with interpretive language.

Exposure Anxiety

EA was first described by Donna Williams in her book “Nobody Nowhere” in 1991 and later and hand book on the condition in 2003. EA creates involuntary diversion and retaliation responses when a feeling of “exposure” is triggered the nervous system then reactions with such responses as echolalic litanies (that go nowhere), spitting, hitting (others and/or themselves), swearing, running away and/or freezing (mutism).

People are directly confrontational in their language to one another with EA the person may benefit from an indirectly confrontational approach. Peers may be baffled on/or even confused by the differing responses this may lead to being teased, left out and picked on.

Other Things To Consider

  • Personality Types
  • Learning Styles/Variations
  • Dietary Disabilities
  • Mental Health Co-Conditions

Conclusion

If we are looking at advocacy we must first look at all perspectives of what is being experienced by the person on the autism spectrum and their peers and bringing a hopeful inclusion tailored by

  • Information sharing
  • Perspective taking
  • Healthy validation 
  • Inclusion

Advocacy of Autism as a “Fruit Salad”

By looking at the multifaceted nature of the word “autism” one must look beyond the stereotypes, beyond the rhetoric and once people open up to being healthily challenged, empowered and acknowledged then we can look forward to the future.

Links

Books

Nobody Nowhere D.Williams 1991

Exposure Anxiety D.Williams  2003

Autism: An Inside Out Approach D.Williams 1996

The Jumbled Jigsaw D.Williams 2005

Living Through The Haze P.Isaacs 2nd Edition 2016

Understanding & Supporting Autistic Students In Specialised Schools P.Isaacs 2013

Blogs

What is Autism? D.Williams 2014

Differences Between Aspergers and Autism “Fruit Salads D.Williams 2012

There Are Two Types of “Social Emotional Agnosia P.lsaacs 2018

Visual Perceptual Disorders In Children With Autism D.Williams 2011

Tinted Lenses, Visual Perceptual Disorders and Bridging The Gap Between “Non-Visual and Visual Worlds P.Isaacs 2017

Was Michael Jackson autistic or one of the most famous people with Exposure Anxiety? D.Williams 2009 

Link to Original Article Anna Kennedy Online

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Autism & Personality Types? Why Aren’t They Being Looked at Too?

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Autism  Personality Types? Why Aren’t They Being Looked at Too?

 There are many stereotypes and reductive views about what autism is and how it is presented sometimes it is a whisper that becomes so overt that it travels lengthy ways and gets ingrained and not challenged by the people it is supplied to.

Challenging the Status Quo?

The late Donna Williams (Polly Samuels) always was the eloquent trailblazer of challenging the entrenched status quo of what the word “autism” means. In essence it is an adjective and observational social construct of a set of characteristics. Moving forward to her “fruit salad analogy” she breaks it down into different types of information processing of differing TYPES and differing DEGREES that present an array of differing CHALLNEGES for the person.

Personality and Development

I have always been interested not only the developmental aspects that come with autism but also how personality types and their disordered extremes seem to get ignored and/ or not event recognised as a part of the person. I often wonder how damaging that could be if the individuals personhood is not seen then what is left?

Personality Types, Different Motivations, Different Presentations

Human beings have up to 4 to 6 personality types some of them ride along with each other quite smoothly, others are direct contradiction to one another, others maybe a more even mixture while others are so wild in their differences that it’s hard to pick them apart.

Personality types within people means they have

  • Different Drivers (wants, needs, belief systems and desires)
  • Different expression of language (expression, interaction)
  • Different ways of socialising (expression, understanding, preferences)
  • Different personal motivations (friendship and relationships)
  • Different “inner worlds” (mentalising and belief systems)

Example of “Autistic and Non-Autistic” Personality Types

Some of personality types may look more “autistic” in expression such as being conscientious and/or solitary while others not so much if not at all such as the mercurial and/or leisurely personality type.

Conclusion

What if some of the present issues in the person are to do with overlapping types that goes into “disordered extremes”?  And so the presentation is being inaccurately referenced, told and/or said to be “the autism”.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Autism, Musings of a Faceblind and Object Blind Child

As I child the lack of visual and facial coherence meant that the visual world didn’t pry for the bonding and connective meanings that relied of multiple visual stimulus’, faces meant nothing and visual association was hollow, flat and soulless so I didn’t apply the connections of “me”, you” and “I”.

My first friend was “water” not the interpretive word but the emotional recoil that I gathered and like a friend it was there to give and take. I would see the puddles, flush the toilets and knew from them what would come. A timely wave of energy which was a akin to expectation as the water flowed the twinkles of spray in the surrounding area and the light shards bouncing off the sun in the morning.

“Bear” was used as a transitional object he was large, course and scratchy and would sit next to me in the car when my parents went out and about.

The Mirror in the bathroom and other places was a constant source of fascination it took me until 16 to released that “him” was “me” but I found it a comfort not to be alone.

On a pre-conscious level I was “sensing” and “tuning in” to an apart of myself which I wasn’t able to make the connection with in real time so it was slow process from infancy to mid-teenage hood. Having a level of aphasia, visual-verbal agnosias delayed the process but I am thankful to have given myself a “project” to work on and to bridge the gap between my world, the world and other peoples worlds.

This was a feeback loop in which I was finding other through self and self through other (the sense that the person in the mirror was “other”) this brought upon the slow bridging between my internal world of sensing to a level of intereptation.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Egotisms vs. “Developemtnal Egocentrisms” – Understanding “Other Through Self” In Autism

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Note this is from a personal perspective

To be a egotist one must have a self-inflated sense of “self” (the ego) in which everything has to be about them, for them and with them you could construed this a narcissism and unhealthy relationship with ego and the ability to get “other” as necessary part of life. This doesn’t mean that people with autism cannot be egotists by the way.

Oxford Living Definition

1.1 Centred in or arising from a person’s own individual existence or perspective.

‘Egocentric spatial perception’

“Developmental” Egocentrism

This on the “surface” in its multiple forms see like the “same” if a  person taps on the surface this could be as so but what is the person is trying (unconsciously in some cases) to understand other?

Faceblindness and Mirrors

It took me years up to the age of 16 years to realise that the “friend” that followed me into the bathroom and public toilets was “me” I sought a lot of comfort from “him” as I stared into the mirror I wasn’t aware that it was “self” so I played with the “friend” pulling faces, gestures, expression contorting my features etc. Transfixed I would struggled to perceive that was in the mirror was behind “me” leaning the toward the mirror I would try to pick things out of it not understanding the concept of “mirror” is reflection one’s own physical form.

Meaning Deafness and Echolalia

I would have contradictory experience with being profoundly meaning deaf all around me was fragmented people making “soundscapes” to one another this would both intrigue, annoy and frightening me depending on the context, the people and the situation. Listening to jingles, TV shows and VHS’ was indirectly and opening for “other” I could follow the patterns of the program endlessly as they were in the end a linear form of repetition of sounds, colours and movements.

Visual perception and Making Connections

Being both meaning blind and object blind meant my visual world was redundant and I was only using up to 30 percent of information (taking into account visual perception is around 70 percent of information). I would “live” in a system of sensing (before typical interpretations and applied meaning) for connected experiences they had to come from other senses, touch, taste, smell and movement gave “life” to my physical environment. I would connect with “people” in a fragmented manner smell, touch, patterns of movement etc.

Using One’s Own “System”

I have no doubt in  reflection on my experiences that I have made progression in many areas however the point I am trying to make is the context of autism is that “developmental egocentric systems” in my case were used as “bridge” unconsciously or otherwise understand “other”. The internal struggle was the blockages developmentally and neurologically to extract my own though systems, interpretive systems and inner/outer dialogue of coherence at time where I could not get a shared “sense of social”.

Paul Isaacs 2018