Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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White Privilege Is A Fact Not A Fiction

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Definition Of White Privilege

Accepting white privilege is not enough, acknowledging it is not enough, saying racism happens with indifference and apathy is not enough.

the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have:
Jane Elliot On Making People Aware Of Racism 
Apathy, Indifference & Ignorance

Acts of apathy and indifference is compounding the problem can imagine being told your reality was not “real”? Or that your reality was something that “just happened” and was met with almost chronic indifference from a social and systematic perspective?

The British Empire Was Driven By Racist Ideology

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White privilege is happening and it’s warped hierarchy has been happening for well over 400 years, when the British Empire stole land, resettled and uprooted the gears of this machine did start to turn.

It is irresponsible and insufficient to view the separation of family units in the Caribbean through a lens that ignores the massive legacy of slavery – which is how most those families came to live there in the first place – and its relationship with the Commonwealth.

Kemi Alemoru – It’s Time Britain Confronted It’s Racist & Oppresive Past, No Half-Truths Blog 2018

Changing Facts To Fit Narratives? 

It’s seeped into our “British Culture” as “normal”, in education, in employment, in media, in books and in movies etc.

“Before, people had to hide their racism. If you felt something bad about about black people, about Muslims, you had to shut up. Now these people have the confidence to come out in public to say everything. This is scary to me, that scares the shit out of me.”

Stormzy – Musician – The Guardian Article 2019 UK is ‘definitely racist’ an 

It’s time for white people to know what is happening from the other side, not just acknowledge as a point of interest

No person’s reality should traded as insignificant to another’s.

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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Autism, Information Processing and Coronavirus

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Note – This is from a personal perspective 

Alexithymia & Emotional Processing 

Not knowing one’s own emotional states means that I struggle to connect my conscious and unconscious mind, incoming information doesn’t filter into a connected thought, feeling and inner response which is marrying up with my inner states.

Visual Perceptual Disorders, Aphantasia & Mentalising 

Aphantasia is a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery.[1] The phenomenon was first described by Francis Galton in 1880[2] but has since remained largely unstudied. Interest in the phenomenon renewed after the publication of a study in 2015 conducted by a team led by Professor Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter,[3] which also coined the term aphantasia.[4] Research on the condition is still scarce.[5][6]

Visual learning is the most common form of accessing the information around you, I cannot  retrieve visual information and I do not have a “visual mind’s eye” this is called aphantasia. The aspects that I struggle with are visual fragmentation and simultagnosia (object blindness) and a residual level of semantic agnosia (meaning blindness). So watching the news and making visual-verbal connections takes time for me to access and apply meaning with my system which is largely kinesthetic in nature.

Tactile – Associative Synesthesia & Building Frameworks

There are many different types of synesthesia, but they may be categorized as falling into one of two groups: associative synesthesia and projective synesthesia. An associate feels a connection between a stimulus and a sense, while a projector actually sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes a stimulation. For example, an associator might hear a violin and strongly associate it with the color blue, while a projector might hear a violin and see the color blue projected in space as if it were a physical object.

The way in which I build up frameworks is always on an emotive level I am unaware of my feelings from moment to moment, so I have to EXTERNALISE unconsciously in to text which can be creative in content, emotive and introspective and/or art work which can be abstract an metaphorical in representation. I am not a literal, logical processor of information and I do not have social emotional agnosia  that comes from disconnection of right hemisphere. So INTERNALISATION  comes from the marriage creative process as opposed to overtly factual and linear ones.

Aphasia & Language Processing 

Currently I am around 30 percent meaning deaf which means I can take in large amounts of information for a a short period of time, however I may begin to be flooded with a vast a array of language in which my mind cannot keep up with, it becomes distorted and slowly meaningless, so managing my time and input is crucial.

Conclusion

It is best for people to understand their own autism “fruit salad” and what works for them during times of great uncertainty and distress, build up a level of self-awareness or have someone around you that healthily acknowledges your challenges but still retains the autonomy and respect of seeing you as person.

Paul Isaacs 2020

 


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Autism, Mentalising, Alexithymia & Introspection

Note – This is from a personal perspective

Language Processing, Alexithymia, Visual Perception and Mentalising

As a child I was unable to process language with meaning this meant that the ability marry words with association, then the ability to reason those words into a meta-reality (context and how they “looked”). I was severely face blind, object blind and meaning blind this meant the inability to visual internally my external world meant that I had to use my body to EXTERNALISE to INTERNALISE in other words I mapped out my world through placement, smell, texture, movement and taste.

Body Disconnection, Exposure Anxiety and Dissociation

I was unable to map out my own body, its parts, their placement in association with me or the outside world so I had a level of body agnosias which meant my body with FRAGMENTED as well as my vision and internalisation of receptive language. My conscious mind was seemingly blank as I subconsciously took in the information around me in but was unable to consciously piece it together despite the fact is was near hiding in plain site, akin to playing smoke and mirrors but with my own self.

Exposure anxiety rendered me powerless when confronted with “self” the awareness of my own self existence was too powerful for me to handle. So I disassociated, created characters (each assigned duties, personality types, communication styles) to handle the task of being exposed, mutism, echolalic litanies (once functional speech was acquired).

However I seemed to retain the ability to have introspection, the system of sensing still means I FEEL first and then have to unpick the interpretation secound.
The Self and Other Paradox

Fast track to know I had an experience in which I got to that level which I have described bearing in mind this had not happened in roughly 23 Years! It was shock was unable to do a shared self and other (which can last up to two hours plus), language was losing meaning, visuals where fragmenting (I made error of taking my tints off) and I was feeling detached coming out with stock phrases and it made me think about how I was then

So with help, kindness and assistance of friends and colleagues I was able to map and piece together my emotional states through three videos.
Loss

This video signifies loss that the emotional roller-coaster of meeting loss head on, the process of emotion, the realisation, the impact it has on you and other around them and the great sense of vulnerability that comes with it.

Light and Hope

This video is more metaphor and symbolical in its reverence with me the smoke that plums as he enters the arena is has a great impact on me as it represents hope through the darkness, as he walks to the ring a single light envelopes him which for me feels that light can be achieved in times of such darkness, the creating of light towards end is hope.

This Detachment of Self and Other

The final video to me represents my sometimes lack of ability to get a shared sense of “self and other” and “shared social” in which my conscious thoughts are not married up straight away with other and vise versa, when I LOSE the ability to keep the process becomes mechanical, artificial the automata represents this aspect and also ALL SELF and Casanova represents ALL OTHER .

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


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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When The Clouds Move In

In the universe of the social media what does one put when someone is so low and depressed? Is it a false currency to type your feelings? Is it not correct to extract your thoughts onto a wider medium? Is it merely seen as a chance to get some sort of gratification or social supply from the amount of reactions and comments that come under your status?

I am depressed at the moment and the depression doesn’t seem to give me time to get grounded, its saps my energy, tailors my perceptions, distorts my mood and thought processes yet I still come out with a smile, a false sense of connecting, being in a room full of people and the walls come crashing in as the bleaked aloneness comes towards your words become ash, people become shadows and you wish to run away from the vessel you live in from day to day.

I have never since my teens felt such a state of melancholy, despair or detachment from the world around, pessimism rises from its tomb, nihilism jabs at my mind and hopelessness dominates as I plunder into the void once again. Maybe if I spoke up more about such feelings I would be privy to a listening ear? Maybe if I shed more tears I would get a sense of comfort from a friend? I know not what the future holds none of us do but at this moment in time the darkness follows me everywhere the omnipresence suffocates my soul and creativity.

Maybe all I want is for someone to see me as a human being, not a catalogue of facts about autism, maybe I would like someone to recognise my challenges and difficulties as I am made to understand theirs? Maybe I just want my perspective to acknowledged and validated regardless of it being right or wrong.

I do not like living a “half-life” between the void and the false pretence of happiness in my current state. If people think I am seeking a hollow sense of attention so be it but writing for me does extract the cusp of the matters, so I say to you if you feel down, low, depressed or otherwise please tell someone it may not sort out the root of the problem but it could be the start of doing so.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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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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The Cognitive Aspects of Autism

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 attuned to empathy I show this through art and poetry.

“Sensing” vs. Intellectual Processing

I can see that this is to do with the residual aspects of being meaning deaf, context and meaning blind, information processing delays and language 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 knowingness” that I cannot do when I am in a more conscious state as contradictory as it sounds one gets less out of me.

Paul Isaacs 2019