Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Paul Isaacs: Living Through the Haze 2nd Edition Review By Dr. Manuel Casanova 

 

Paul Isaacs’ book, “Living Through the Haze”, has been published (second edition). The book has new content, a new introduction and an afterword that I wrote. Paul was diagnosed as autistic in 2010. As a child Paul was considered to be a “naughty child” with no prospects for a future. At present Paul is a lecturer, trainer and consultant who promotes autism awareness throughout the UK. In the following paragraphs I provide the afterword that I wrote for “Living Through the Haze”:

Many times during his life Paul felt confused and detached from his surroundings. His attention could only focus on one aspect of his sensory experience. He lived his life as if wearing blinders, and as such, he could not react adequately to what people asked of him at home, at school or at work. His perceptual style made him seem odd to his peers. Parents, teachers and peers objectivised and bullied him.  In the end the reader can only wonder, how did Paul survive?

For many autistic individuals the environment overwhelms their nervous system with information.  Seeing a face is like looking at the sun. Blinking, when looking at the sun, is a response aimed at avoiding damage to your eyes by allowing only a sliver of sunrays to hit your retina. In autistic individuals, allowing only a sliver of available information into your brain is meant to protect it from overstimulation. Overall, autistic individuals can’t see the forest for the trees and it is easy for them to become thoroughly engrossed in the details of a particular situation but miss the larger picture.

Paul grew up displaying many of the classical symptoms of autism. Unfortunately, as is the case for many autistic individuals, his diagnosis came late in life.  Still, he prospered and found fulfillment in being a speaker, counselor and in helping others like him. In this book Paul publicizes his own plight with some of the darker aspects of autism. Through no fault of his own Paul was misunderstood and relentlessly bullied by even those who were supposed to protect him.  The psychological and physical aggression that he suffered is at the crux of a mixed mood disorder that at times has greatly handicapped him.

So we can ask again, how did Paul survive? In a longitudinal study sponsored by the NIMH on so-called recovered autism, it seems that the most salient commonality for those that “recovered” was caring parents who were quick to act on behalf of their children.  Paul in this regard was blessed with caring supportive parents and grandparents. He also found solace and purpose in a special education camp outside of school, which he called the “Autism Base”. There he found others like him living within a spectrum of severities. More importantly, within the Autism Base he found comradely and a social sense of togetherness.

Paul has not forgotten the painful experiences of the past but has learned from them.  Indeed, the excuses provided by the teachers who failed him are indelibly marked in his memory. He has a keen power for introspection.  His ability to self-reflect is one of the reasons why I believe that there is undue emphasis in the Theory of Mind conceptualization of autism. Paul was always keenly aware of his mental state and on occasion provides privileged access to the mental state of his parents.

This is a must read book for parents with autistic kids, especially if they are attending mainstream schools. The book is also a valuable aid to teachers. It portrays in a no holds barred way the effects of intimidation and the behavioral manifestations of bullying. Finally, Paul provides many constructive comments and guidelines as to how to improve the school system and teaches by example the positives of a supportive role by parents.

Source: Paul Isaacs: Living Through the Haze

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Person First Language – Why It Is Of Value For Me

Premature 1Why I am A Person With Autism

Born a person first a little human being

Little “Paul” is what people were seeing

As I grew my personhood shone. so freeing

Something that all people are being.

My Autism is apart of me it doesn’t define the whole

I want be seen as more a noble quest my ultimate goal

Not everything is about my “condition” that takes its toll

Open your eyes ever look deeper into my soul

I am an artist I like to draw – my quirky imagination sores

I am a poet I like to write – my words are given clarity and flight

My speech, vision and language are at times fragmented

But this doesn’t mean I am eternally demented

See the person, their eager smile be with them for but a while

Likes and dislikes, wants and the needs these are but human deeds

want people with open eyes too see I know that path fills with glee

 

That it is one’s personhood that connects you and me

Paul Isaacs 2015


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In The Autism World It Is Always Best To Remember You Are A Person

Paul Big LegsI Am Sorry But I Must Say Something

The “culture” I was told that would support me
It doesn’t it has brought me sadness, it has made me shackled
It has not “set me free” I want to live a simple life
Where people are equal for that very reason with strife

Arguments a plunder my heart sinks and my nerves crack like thunder
As I feel my self esteem pulled down into the depths of the under
I ponder to myself what is it all about? Can’t people get along
Not one scream and not one shout, echoes all about

No more I say – I have given it my all I can be the person I was
His name was “Paul” and that is the some of it all
Hold hands and hearts and rejoice for we are not all one voice
But many are unsung, drowned out and ignored not the people’s choice

My heart fills with sunshine when I know that being here is no plight
Real friends and family give me my real joy, no more fights
A family member told me tenderly remember who you are that set me free
An onward path of freedom, hope and reflective clarity

Conclusion 

Thank you to you all I have decided not to over-invest in the autism “culture” or politics anymore. I have stated my opinions and listened to others that is great . My view still is we are all human and can learn from each other and in the context of autism that still applies no one person is the same, no one person can speak for all, but one can talk about their reality and if it helps someone great and if it something you cannot relate too or don’t experiences equally great. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2015


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The Personhood Club – Remembering I’m A Person First – Identities Come Afterwards

Premature 1“The greatest feeling I get is when I reminded that I am a person and all that entails it is beyond any rigid identity bestowed on me, I belong to no specific club unless you call it the personhood club which has about 7 billion members

Paul Isaacs Adult with Autism 2014


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Part Of A Journey Fulfilled & Will Be Continued

Premature 2

Thoughts & Reflections

I have been on journey of self discovery since late 2006 now in 2014 two days ago I learnt what may be last and most important part of Autism profile which is on my previous blog post.

Although genetics play a part in Autism It has come to my attention that for some people on the spectrum (not all) have birthing issues that either affect their  brain and/or immune/metabolic systems have in turn an effect on their development and in my case visual and auditory perceptual issues, language processing, body awareness etc. Of course there are other members of the family who have very different profile to me and wonder if my birth issues maybe the answers to that? I think so. 🙂

Dad and I 2003 Resturant

To Be Balanced

So what have learnt ? That I shall always be a human being, I shall be creative, kind, thankful, balanced and appreciate life for it’s lessons, value true friendships, to be as functional as I can be with the knowledge, not to be scared and keep it real. I’m a person.

I’m thankful to so many people on this journey and I have feeling that reading this post you know who you are. 🙂

Paul Isaacs Adult With Autism 2014


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Placental Abruption – Part of My Autism Profile

Premature 1Placental Abruption 

This a personal account of these issues, my development and my autism profile.

My mother and I where both in distress during her pregnancy – I was born premature and was born via cesarean section  and my Mother suffered heavy bleeding as a result of what is called placental abruption.

“Placental abruption happens when there is bleeding behind the placenta, between the placenta and the wall of the uterus (womb). This may be just a small amount of bleeding. But if you have a large amount of bleeding, the placenta may partially or completely separate from the lining of your uterus before your baby is born.”

Left Hemisphere Brain Injury & Oxygen Deprivation (Hypoxia) 

“25% of babies who experience hypoxic/anoxic injuries at the time of labor will have permanent neurological problems.”

© 2014 Birth Injury Justice.org by Becker Law Firm, L.P.A. All rights reserved.

Aspects Of My Birth 

My Autism profile consists of many speech, language, perceptual and developmental delays  which includes

  • Speech Delay (non-verbal 5 year approx with speech regression)
  • Motor Coordination Delays (crawled with one arm and didn’t start walking until 18 months old)
  • Language Delay (gained functional speech between the ages 7/8 years is that of a 3 year old developmentally)
  • Learning Difficulties (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia)
  • “Mild” Learning Disability
  • Visual Agnosias (simultagnosia, semantic agnosia, prosopagnosia, visual-verbal agnosia)
  • Auditory Agnosias (pure auditory agnosia, verbal auditory agnosia, receptive and expressive aphasia)
  • Body Agnosias (finger agnosia and visual-spatial dysgnosia)
  • Hemispatial Neglect (related to brain injury, left-handedness, left-right confusion related to Gerstmann Syndrome)

Genetics

They also come into play because there are such things as genetic based agnosias, processing issues and learning difficulties which can be passed down from generations to generation (although the fashion in which this is done is highly variable) the cross over with other profiles seems to be there and commonalities are present in some of the conditions such as.

This However Doesn’t Affect My Character or Personhood

Every person is on a journey of self discovery and revelation this doesn’t make me feel sad nor isolated in anyway quite the opposite I’m still “Paul” and all that in entails these aspects of discovery are the trajectory of my development, my learning, my language, my visual processing etc. They are apart of me but don’t ultimately define – I’m still creative, eager to learn, eager to live and with the set of cards I have been dealt I will use them ultimately to the best of my abilities. Hope springs eternal. 🙂

Special Thanks to Donna Williams & Dr Manuel Casanova

Paul Isaacs 2014