Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Autism, Childhood Trauma Core Beliefs & Moving On

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Note – This is from a personal perspective 

Unpicking Trauma & Distortion Of Core Beliefs 

Defining Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is subtle – it comes in various guises and because there are no visible wounds or scars it is difficult to detect. Emotional abuse damages children’s self-concept, and leaves them believing that they are unworthy of love and affection. Emotional abuse is invariably present in all types of abuse, and the long-term harm from emotional abuse can be equally, if not more damaging, than other forms of abuse.

Childhood Trauma, Negative Core Beliefs,
Perfectionism And Self-Injury (2012) by Jan Sutton

Talking with my CBT therapist yesterday she described that young children are vulnerable to the projection and distortion of “core beliefs” if they are exposed to them from an early age, this no doubt can run into the sub-conscious mind and the person can then act out (with out knowing) these belief systems.

The memory came from when I was around the ages of 7 I was functionally non-verbal and I was told to have a meeting with the headteacher in her office at around lunchtime.

I was in this office for an hour, my parents had not been notified of the meeting, I was not fed or watered that day as a result. I shall bullet point the overall presentation of what she projected to me, during the meeting I had largely dissociated.

  • You do not walk properly
  • You do not talk properly
  • You cannot learn properly
  • You do not learn in the same way as the other children
  • You cannot tie your shoelaces
  • You walk around alone in the playground

This took due to visual-verbal processing and mentalising challenges not only a long time to sink in what she said, but also a level of self-awareness that this had an impact on my self-perception, development and functioning. Through out education my perspectives were often maligned, discarded, ignored or not acted upon in an objective, rationale manner. In 1996 I was sent for therapy at the Park Hill Hospital in Oxford.

The specialist in question had little understanding of my presentation or how I felt about the current situation, it was heavily implied towards the end of the assessment that my parents were abusing me and thus I was attachment disordered.

Sexual Abuse As Teenager

What to Expect After a Teen Is Sexually Abused

Being a teen is already a stressful and confusing time. Experiencing sexual abuse makes life even more confusing. Teens often act as if the abuse did not happen. The pain is too much at times so they work hard to avoid the pain. You may notice in your teen feelings of sadness, nervousness, guilt, and fear; changes in behavior such as withdrawing from friends and family, a drop in school performance, or trouble sleeping; avoiding reminders of the abuse such as people, places, or things; or engaging in unhealthy behaviors such as running away, substance abuse, self-mutilation, or suicidal ideation.

Melissa Reilly, LCSWBrian H. Williams, MD

I was around 15 at the time is came as repressed memory many years later in 2011 (night terrors) and I pursued counselling in 2013 I was made to believe that the repression was not real.

This not being believed and listened (by a professional) then lead me to make my own way to the place where it happened at get closure, I looked at the door for which seemed like forever and I walked silently away.

The incident itself was of anal penetration by a person older than me that was confined in the boys changing rooms and that is all I can remember on the subject, however I can piece to together problems it presented –

Perceived Self & Actual Self?

I am thankful for all my experiences that have happened in my life, positive and negative, good and bad, right or wrong. One has to thank people whom bestowed things onto you it has given me perspective, opened up the pursuit of a balanced self and objective happiness, the promotion of healthy boundaries and ethics has furthered my ability to be connected with myself as person as opposed to a false projection.

Paul Isaacs 2020

 

 

 


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Why Are People Disconnected From Certain Emotional States?

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Culture of Conditioning 

Westernised society has conditioned many people to be enraptured by the such emotional rigidity, as to the falseness of how such perceived “negative emotions” and “positive emotions” are handled with.

“Faux Emotional” Responses & Polarising Negative/Positive Thought Patterns 

Smiles and joy are not painted on and should never be supplied as a shallow coping mechanism for darkly thought-scapes, that means you will never understand the lessons of both true sadness and happiness, they both exist to give each other meaning and clarity.

It you are disconnected from BOTH you will never get the timely validity of either.

I have noted that some of my expressions of sadness and melancholy have confused or even upset, however these emotions just “are” they are neither “good or bad”, “right or wrong” they are a human EMOTION to be explored.

Conclusion

Feel things without the threat of judgement. Or put up cladding that in the end distances you further from yourself and other people.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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What Is Friendship?

 

Sometimes what is needed in this tempest most consumed in the worldly minds of others, is to know that someone else of equal candour whom maybe going through the same experiences offers out their gift of listening. To wipe away the tears of depthful melancholy when you feel your body is enveloped in bitter tear drops, to show them yourself at moment when the mirrormind is cracked, to open doors that have been bolted with rust and to give you new feathers so you can fly once more.

As I have been unpicking the system of sensing theory, it has become apparent that mergence of feeling is a beautiful way to connect however one must be thoughtful to each other’s learning process’.

After decades I finally understand the perspective of having a true and meaningful friendship with balance, love and humility, I have all ways sensed this (through bonding) and if there is any a wonderful time to know it. The time is now.

I have learnt something today is that space is as much valuable form of love, care and consideration as being there which is of equal validity.

I apparently have this “skill” of mergence but need to know how to manage, regulate, monitor and use it. I love to help people, empower and to try and be objective which is an important process.

I like people for their raw energy, honesty, humility and empathy and I as people must and try to give them something back.

Paul Isaacs 2020


Is Bullying “Normal”?

Here is an interesting observation, many people who bullied me at school and during my time in education I have heard have always said they “observed” the acts never instigated implying overtly they were witness’ not people to take part in the act.

Let’s be frank you did on a daily basis commenting on my appearance.

  1. How I talked
  2. How I walked
  3. My weight
  4. My lack of friends
  5. My lack of intelligence
  6. My emotions
  7. My parents, my grandparents
  8. My social status.

This would happen at class, during breaks/lunchtime, waiting for transport home/during transport and at the place were I live from the ages of 5 to 16 years old.

This also included parents and teachers.

However just because I have made conscious and dedicated effort to see and take the good out of your actions, to not let them define me, to not be bitter or hold on to reductive actions of revenge or futile bitterness of the past that doesn’t not mean your acts were correct.

I can be objective and say it was your homelife, your sense of unfulfilment socially and/or academically, clashing of personality, the chemical imbalances that come with teenagehood, the peer pressure etc.

To which is true, however in terms of projection and hurt you flung on me was vile, cruel and cowardly you made me feel worthless and at multiple times I wanted to not live.

Bullying isn’t a “normal” part of growing up, it isn’t a right of passage, it isn’t a phase and the word itself trivialises the actions which is, psychological and/or physical abuse and projected trauma onto another human being.

I thank you for bestowing these actions on me because you gave me a framework how not to treat people, I understand a lot of you have families and children.

I hope you have matured and changed as you have grown and I sincerely wish your young one’s do not go through what I went through.

I refuse to be a victim of the past, for I do not want it to live in my future.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism, Alexithymia, Dissociative Disorders & Trauma

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Note – This is from a personal perspective

Overview

In secondary school their was an isolated incident of sexual abuse which I was subjected to, this happened in the changing rooms and I have documented about how I had to get closure on this incident myself.

Alexithymia and dissociative reactions are two strategies that have been put forward as coping mechanisms to alleviate painful emotions. Adult studies reveal an association between alexithymia and dissociation. In line with the coping hypothesis, it was predicted that the relationship between alexithymia and dissociative tendencies would be partly mediated by current levels of stress and past traumatic experiences. Dissociation may also be related to enhanced fantasizing, although alexithymia has traditionally been associated with an incapacity to fantasize

Jennifer G. Schnellmann PhD, ELS 2005

Alexithymia has a common overlap with some people on the autism spectrum, in which the person has problems identifying, wording and extracting inner emotional states, having a language processing disorder no doubt hindered my ability to express (word finding and word losing), visual agnosias of varying kinds and degrees which hindered my to get gestalt perception and mentalise and thus extract the information and process it accordingly.

But imagine that as an autie you get tolerated in a mainstream school of bullying, exclusion etc…. so you try your butt off to pass as ‘non autistic’ or at least mirror others…. but on your own out comes your autie self… and over YEARS the ‘acting normal’ self becomes an ‘alter’ and has its own abilities, its preferences, its dislikes, the things its invested in, the things its disinterested in (like all the ‘autistic’ stuff… because it would attract more bullying, exclusion, etc)….

Donna Williams 2012

Dissociation Disorder & Repressed Memories

Coming to terms with my dissociation is to understand where it came from so here is the a list of events that interacted and caused dissociation and dissociative personas which then in tern effect the association of the “core self” which then in turn had an impact on my psychological and emotional development.

  • I was traumatised by children and teachers using functional speech and language at primary school because I could not keep up with it on an interpretive level (this wasn’t done on purpose nor was this anyone’s fault or intention).
  • I was put into adult situations at primary school with no advocate or caregiver present (teachers arranging meetings about “negative” behaviour prior and after functional speech so dissociation, personas and exposure anxiety were triggered).
  • Having body and pain agnosias meant without clothes on and/or pressure points meant I could detach and dissociate quicker.
  • Having prosopagnosia secondary to simultagnosia meant I bonded with the “person in the mirror” in toilets and washrooms.
  • Secondary school involved the use of three personas all with splintering personality types, learning and communication styles and “tasks” both motivational and/or otherwise to “protect” on a subconscious level the “core self”.
  • Only became self aware of being “different” at 16 and later was using word “autism/autistic” at 18, however lacked a self-awareness of my challenges to others and didn’t consciously change and/or suffer from avoidant and/or social anxiety/phobia.
  • PTSD in adulthood and repressed memories of sexual abuse came in later adulthood through nightmares and flashbacks in a distorted and fragmented fashion due to visual perceptual and language processing disorders.
  • Outlets for Alexithymia and emotional regulation came up more prominently in adulthood through art, poetry and creative writing and aided my ability to mentalise.
  • Being Mercurial and Idiosyncratic meant I could create novel, inventive and “odd” ways of distancing myself from emotional difficulties and pain.
  • Being in the “system of sensing” for far longer and still retaining aspects of it meant I valued the world and would sense the energies around me beyond their set interpretive “meaning”.

Accepting What “Brought me to the Dance”

I have no doubt that I have been coloured by my experiences, they mold people, influence, guide them, help them and sadly sometimes destroy them.

I have come to realise the value in experiences regardless of these being positive or negative I still learn from them.

They’re my teachers my reflectors and I refuse to live a half life in which my destiny is to be defined by things that were out of my control and contextual to the knowledge (or lack of) at the time.

Paul Isaacs 2020


In The Last Ten Years

Looking Back

The last ten years have been very intersting in 2009 I was recently out of the Mental Health Services with two personality disorders, auditory hallucinations and psychosis, I was self harming and attempted suicide.

Early Infancy

By clinical observations I was serverely autistic, I was profoundly meaning deaf, meaning blind, body disconnected, oral apraxic and didn’t gain functional speech till later in infancy. I was and am thankful to my parents who had no means of any interventions (in the late 80s many were dated).

In 2010 I was diagnosed with autism and OCD and my speaking career started off in which I went freelance in 2015.

“Standards of Success”

By “non-autistic” standards I “made it” in many ways I suppose. I was considered “retarded” by the village I lived in and was targeted and bullied by the children and adults till my mid-teens.

Education

I was targeted and bullied at school from primary to secondary when I finally left in 2002 (with an isolated incident of sexual abuse) in the latter.

I went on to do an ICT coursecfor a year and had the greatest experience of my life from and educational perspective it proved I could be educated.

Bullying and Employment

The bullying in employment started in 2002/3 so multiple jobs were lost and gained.

I was thankful to the autism base in Chinnor in around 2008/9 for supporting me as well as the start of my speaking career in 2010. Over that period of time I wrote and authored 5 books.

The bullying in employment stopped in 2015 when I went freelance and started working for My World.

This is longest time in employment that I have been safe, comfortable and seen as a part of the team.

I Am A Person-First

People wonder why I use “person-first language” this is why because I do not want to be defined by a “label”. I do not like serperatist “them and us, us and them” rhetoric we (as beings) are all a part of the human race

From 2013 onwards to now I am pleased to have met some of the most wonderful and friendly people in both my personal and professional life.

Love and Life

I lost my Gramp in March 2017 due to metatastic prostate cancer, one of my dearest friends and mentors Polly (Donna Williams) in April that year also to metatastic breast cancer and my Nan in December 2019 due to pneumonia. I shall always cherish my fondest memories of them.

I almost lost my Dad in 2011 due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia and then meningitis in 2018 as well as my Mum in May 2019 due to a complex thrombotic disease.

Creative Mindsets

I have had great fun dabbling in art, poetry and what I call “insta-modelling” in which to my surprise and support from my friends up north has been rather enjoyable!

I have been interested in androgyny for many years prior and have been told I look as such.

One of things I can do well is pluck my eyebrows which I consider an achievement as much as anything else! 😉

Conclusion

So look beyond what is here, look beyond what is heard, what is seen, what is touched and sense people because every cherished little person is special and of equal valor and humility in this world.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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A Lesson in Time – Mental Health Assessment Pre-Diagnosis

Paul 7 Years Old

Family Assessment

Tuesday 11th February 1997

Presenting Problems

Mr. Isaacs was unable to attend today as he is a shift worker and since accordingly this date he has been changed to day work. My initial impression of Paul was of a much younger lad (he is eleven in May) physically and psychologically.

Paul was eager to explain his concerns to me and at times was very insistent on not letting his mother give a more comprehensible explanation of the situations that had occurred.

Paul’s major sense of unhappiness and the reason for his referral is that he feels he is verbally bullied at school. he gave examples of being taunted primarily about 1.) The he way walks. 2.) Shuffling his feet. 3.) He wears glasses – and he has been called “four eyes”. However, he feels that the teaching staff are against him . In year 4 he had an unhappy relationship with his form teacher. It does seem one particular occasion he was humiliated – but to the infants so they could show him how to behave.

Mrs Isaacs also incited another incident which seemed to have upset her more than Paul. It became apparent that when Paul was explaining his situation at school his explanations tented to be repetitions of his parents points of view.

Paul after became muddled and it seemed there gaps in connecting and associating. It was also significant that when Paul referred to “she!”- his pronunciation was really that of “he” – I did check several times, but it appears that both Paul and his mother were unaware of this – which was marked. (receptive hearing problem? speech difficulties?).

Mrs Isaacs pointed out that Paul always had difficulties “concentrating” and settling down to work – she remembers this as stemming as far back as three year of age – When he attended play-group. she also recalls at this age and ever since that has had problems with “interacting with others” (her words). Paul has not many friends and it was brought to Mrs Isaacs’ attention by the teaching staff that he was a “solitary figure” in the playground. His mother also pointed out that they lived close of approx ten houses and that there were other children of Paul’s age, but he tended to say in.

Her explanation for this was that he felt safe and secure behind closed doors. Paul did mention some of his friends, but found it hard to articulate what he felt about his friendships with them. He did admit to hitting out at people at times is was significant that he mentioned his father hit him when he was angry. Mrs Isaacs denied this. Paul’s response was “I suppose Mum must embarrassed that I said that.”

Paul’s self-perception is that his “fairly sensible” , however he admits to being influenced by others into “being silly”, but he feels other children are being “sillier” the than him – “going over the top”. He feels he doesn’t go over “the top”. Paul has recently had to go back to the very basics in Maths with one other pupil. Mrs Isaacs conveyed concern and irritation that the teaching staff had not picked up on Paul’s severe difficulties with Maths; especially in view of him starting upper school at Lord Williams East in the new academic year (Sept 1997). Paul’s reading age is estimated as that of a nine year old. it appears the only positive subject that could of was Paul’ art. Mrs Isaacs believes and feels the teaching staff convey negative messages surround Paul’s overall performance. Mrs Isaacs explained that Paul gets very “worked up” over homework assignments, Paul also stated that he cries very easily hence his vulnerability at school in being bullied. It appears Paul suffers from anticipatory anxiety and expressed his fear of commencing upper school as he has heard he will get “beaten up”. Is is of significance that Mrs Isaacs was unhappy at ‘Long Crendon Primary School’ and suffered “bullying” at ‘Lord Williams’ East’. Mr Isaacs is also being scapegoated at work – he is being ‘verbally bullied’ (Mrs Isaacs’ words) and harassed and feels under a lot of pressure.

Family History

When referring to the history of the pregnancy Mrs Isaacs requested to speak separately – she explained she told no one of the pregnancy – only her partner (whom she is married to). She had been rushed into the JR as Paul “was distressed” – he was a month premature and was in SBCU post birth. She was unable to breast -feed Paul remarking they had said “she was too big”. Transition to weening had been unproblematic. Had been slow in walking – 18 months? He was sleepy baby and had to be woken up for feeds – He had been a “good baby”. However Mrs Isaacs had fond toddlerhood difficult – his “boisterousness”. Paul has had three operations 1.) Circumcision at 2 years 2.) Grommets 3.) Adenoidectomy at 4 years – at the JR and Radcliffe. Tonsillitis – query – Tonsillectomy otherwise healthy. Mother with Paul for all operations – no significant complications

Paul would like help with “the teasing” – he said it although it had been easier recently he wants to be able to cope with it better if it worsens again. He also says he is very sensitive and works himself into a state easily. There is also much anticipatory anxiety regarding this move to Lord Williams’ East in the Autumn. In ascertaining his mood he expresses no helplessness or hopeless feeling and denies suicidal ideation or such thoughts. He does covey and sense of confusion and bewilderment over the treating of staff’s “rude words” (his words) about his self-presentation. (persistent anxiety).

  1. Assessment from Psychologist (educational?) to check on cognitive abilities and overall school performance.

  2. Social skills group at “The Park Hospital for Children”. (mother drives) for interaction with class.

  3. Possible Family Therapy – concerns regarding Paul;s parents and levels of depression. Re-enactment of mother’s unhappy school experience and father’s “bullying” at his workplace, especially regarding “authority figures”

Cognitive Abilities , Cognitive Impairment & “Mental Retardation”

“It became noticeable he had very slow speech”

There was a massive transition in 1993/1994 prior to this interaction before this I was echolalic, meaning deaf to large degree around 80 to 90 percent and unable to speak in a fluid manner. Having visual agnosias, oral apraxia and challenges around receptive language meant that getting an interpretive and expressive framework was slow, stilted and lengthy. I went through bouts of selective mutism and hating my “connected” voice which then in turn triggered exposure anxiety.

there appeared to be a gap in connecting and association.

Still having complex visual and verbal blockages meant that my “cognitive abilities” were hidden and therefore not “seen”. I have no doubt that the lady in question had her own frame of reference on how I was processing the information so thinking I was “retarded” was just the tip of the processing iceberg.

Bursting into tears quickly’ – Alexithymia, Body Agnosias and Trauma

There are many overlapping reasons why this was happening at this point – the reason in which I was at this assessment was the persistent and verbal bullying from a senior member of staff at the primary school which I attended.

Having body agnosias meant that I couldn’t gauge or manage my own emotional states this would be related to alexithymia the inability to “know” your own states of emotion, the ability to “internalise” them and mentalise them on a “conscious” level. However many years later when I wrote my first book I came to realise that on a “unconscious level” all my experiences were unlocked through typing.

(receptive hearing problem? speech difficulties?)

I was traumatised from an early age by expressive language (but at times would be intermittently intrigued) due to a language processing disorder (aphasia).

I was triggered by exposure anxiety, dissociated easily and would struggle to get incoming information with “meaning”. Living in the world of the system of “sensing” before awareness mind and the ability to make interpretive connections.

Battling Books & Formulas & Artism

He has severe difficulties in maths.

His reading age has been estimated at an average age of nine.

Not being able to mentalise in a visual – verbal way meant that I had challenges around comprehension and getting meaning from books, written words and maths. (dyslexia, dyscalculia and visual-verbal agnosias). I found the process of writing very difficult the way in which I held the pencil, the ability to concentrate on each letter and sentence formation. The same goes for maths.

My solace for extraction and distraction was art which was were my mind was freed and felt “at home”. I started from a very young around 5 smearing paint on to a piece of paper and I was hooked from that point on then transitioning to drawing by route during this period of my development.

Prematurity & Height
“There is some evidence that babies who were born premature tend to be shorter in childhood, but they usually catch up with those born at term in late adolescence. But our study shows that women who were born very preterm fail to reach the stature you’d expect based on their parents’ and siblings’ heights.”12 Dec 2016

She noted that developmentally and that I seemed “younger” than my age from a psychological and psychical perspective. There is a link between having a short stature and prematurity, currently I am only about 5’8′ I do not think I will be growing vertically anytime soon.

Did I Have An Attachment Disorder?

I can assure you I was lucky that my parents gave me love, support and grounding even though they didn’t know that I was on the autism spectrum. Did they both have difficult childhoods and upbringings? Yes they did for many different reasons.

My Father had parents his whom were his primary caregivers who didn’t not show him love, affection, boundaries or a sense of meaningful inclusion. Both of his parents were cold and aloof and didn’t seem to understand (be it wanting or otherwise) the serious practicalities of what parenthood meant for in a child’s development and emotional well-being.

My Mother was seen as a disappointment to her Mother who was constantly comparing my Mum to other people explaining that she needed to be more like other people as opposed to building up her own sense of self identity, self-worth and autonomy.

The truth is I am and try to be a objective judge of character when it’s presented to me and the answer is no I did not have an attachment disorder and my parents were not to blame for anything.

My Mother fits the solitary, serious and self-sacrificing personality types. She is giving, emotionally connective and generous.

My Father fits the conscientious, mercurial and adventurous personality types. He is assertive, pragmatic and forthright.

I love and value them as human beings because despite their own “shit” they didn’t fling it consciously or otherwise on to me.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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School Reunion & Moving On

Once I was told why don’t you go to school reunion’s? Having thought about this answer and the infinite amount of timely words I could plunder on this subject. I figured it would best to say never go back to the person you used to be you will only get lost again.

People change for all sorts of reason’s and those people who knew me time is about being the best version of yourself.

For those who bullied me who clad it with denial or detachment or the “phase of being a teenager” you probably needed a hug and listening ear more than I ever did.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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My World- Autism, Ethos & Humanity

I am pleased an eagerly proud to be working for a small autism organisation called My World and day centre for people on the autism spectrum. This summer it shall be four years of service to which I have contributed my consultancy work.

With people who have a narrow, conceited and reductive view of what autism “is” and how one is supposed to “act” and “behave” noting that it has “one look” so therefore “one approach and intervention” is wrong and that doesn’t happen here.

At My World all the caring and empathic staff are valued, open-minded and willing to learn this means that what is taken is a person-centred approach, looking at the person’s mental health, learning styles, information processing challenges and ultimately sees them as people or equal worth and value going about their day and purcuits.

Our success is our ethos, open-mind natures, ability to learn new things and approaches and empathy which encourages people in the end to be the best version of themselves.

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