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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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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Be “You” In Your Dreamscapes

Be the the person you are, be the person that is, be the person that is the real you, be the person that is both insignificant but relevant, a failure but a success and be treaded in the infinite pathways of a novice and let go of perceptions of being an worldly expert.

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


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A Tall Tail Of Somotisation Disorder

The Beginning

I started getting symptoms of this in late infancy around 11 years old this was related to mitigating factors both to do with neurological processing such as aphasia, alexithymia and visual agnosias, environmental factors bullying and emotional triggering.

Psycho-Somatic Trauma Based Response to Negative Environment Experiences?

I would get sensations of my body “melting”, headaches, stomachaches, tingling in limbs, face and lips and by the time secondary school came and chronic bullying persisted in the first two weeks the pain would start again as stated above.

In particular, the pattern of shrinking was observed in two parts of the brain called the putamen and the caudate, a change oddly reminiscent of adults who have experienced early life stress, such as childhood maltreatment.

These sensations would cause me to have intestinal discomfort ranging from chronic constipation to nausea.

I would go to the school reception during lunch break sometimes on a almost daily basis saying either about a stomachache and/or headache. I would sit in floods of tears wanting to go home this went on for approximately 18 months as my nervous system was also being pushed as panic attacks usually followed before and/or after an episode of pain.

This meant that obsessive-compulsive disorder manifested in persistent hand-washing, counting, checking and reassurance around illness and disease began which last from the ages of 12 to 15.

Psychological Pain Presenting as Physical Pain?

What is Somatic Symptom Disorder

People with somatic symptom disorder experience real physical symptoms — they are not imagined. These symptoms can vary in intensity from mild to severe and often include breathlessness, exhaustion, or weakness, though pain is the most commonly reported symptom. Doctors may be unable to pinpoint a medical reason, or there may be a clear and diagnosable medical cause. However, people with somatic symptom disorder are likely to experience the symptoms of their illness more severely than is common.

 

Fast forward to this year and very recently I woke up in tremendous pain it started with an “itching” sensation in my lower arms and legs, then they felt like they were on fire, I got up and moved my legs persistently for 40 mins trying to “release” the sensation

I went to the GP this week who confirmed somatisation disorder secondary to an anxiety disorder, PTSD, depression and hypercondriasis which makes sense.

Pain would be triggered by talking about illness in any context,so for example people on the bus sat behind me and in the GP waiting room for example the described pain would migrate and move from my lower back, to my upper back from upper limbs to my lower limbs my body would begin to shake and adrenaline fired through my body, my stomach muscles would cramp up and it would gurgle.

I went for a walk two nights ago and my feet went “numb” this caused great distress and panic as I walked home however bursting into tears was a great release for me.

Conclusion

Now most of pain has subsided but what does psycho-somatic pain represent? For me I feel it is unprocessed emotions, recent environmental distress and need for my body and brain to calm down.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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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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There Are Two Types of “Social Emotional Agnosia” in Autism

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“Typical” Social Emotional Agnosia

Social emotional agnosia is the inability to see and/or perceive body language, facial expression and tone of voice, this mean that the person is only “seeing” factual information this rides along side an secondary factors such as a language processing disorder, alexithymia, mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders for example.

This tends to be found in people with a diagnosis of Asperger’ syndrome and is related the right hemisphere for the brain up to 30% also have faceblindness and sensory hypersensitivities.

“Perceptual” Social Emotional Agnosia

If we think of visual information up to 70% of is visual so what if a person simultagnosia? The inability to perceive more than one thing in their visual field rendering the ability to take in “social” information difficult, perceiving faces, objects and surroundings as “pieces”. What if the person has a receptive aphasia, auditory verbal agnosia and cannot retain information secondary to oral apraxia, verbal agnosias, exposure anxiety , mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders for example.

This tends to be found in people with a diagnosis of Autism and is related to the left hemisphere of the brain and the occiptal lobes and sensory perceptual disorders.

Image result for shoes paired

Image result for shoes paired

You can have two pairs of shoes that “look” the same but once you look inside them you realise they are different in terms of “mechanics” that would mean differing styles of learning, communication and mentalising will come into play.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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The Joy Of Happiness

 

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Happiness is the value not of the behind nor forward but of those little things between that move in a constant.

Cherished things are found there which no worldly goods to buy, they have no thought, no intellectualism and sometimes no words but the feeling is very much at the forefront. A likeable wistful motion that is captured in the roaming snapshot of time.

A valued place that can have a thousand wordless words, a million bountiful experiences. Is wrong to like the shimmer on a rain dropped petal? A sparkle in the water, a popping colour amongst  muteness and a cheery sounding bird calling out to its friends.

Maybe if human beings talked more the moment we wouldn’t be drenched the atrocities of the past and uncertainties of the future. I loving world is not much to ask and it’s above all free.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Autism, Shy Bladder Syndrome and Body Agnosias

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Parcopresis, also termed psychogenic fecal retention, is the inability to defecate without a certain level of privacy. The level of privacy involved varies from sufferer to sufferer. The condition has also been termed shy bowel. This is to be distinguished from the embarrassment that many people experience with defecation in that it produces a physical inability, albeit of psychological origin.

 

Environmental Origins and Processing Event

When I was eight years old and was going to the toilet at primary school in came two students were playing out side the toilets and preceded to kick the door in unison until it forced opened they looked upon me a laughed it took me a long to the process the event due to visual perceptual and language processing disorders.

Reactionary PTSD

This has has a dramatic impact albeit subconsciously on going to the toilet in public forums I cannot defecate until I am in places of familiarity leaving a level of bodily tension.

Body Disconnection & Delayed Perception/Processing

Visual analysis of faces and nonfacial body stimuli brings about neural activity in different cortical areas. Moreover, processing body form and body action relies on distinct neural substrates. Although brain lesion studies show specific face processing deficits, neuropsychological evidence for defective recognition of nonfacial body parts is lacking. By combining psychophysics studies with lesion-mapping techniques, we found that lesions of ventromedial, occipitotemporal areas induce face and body recognition deficits while lesions involving extrastriate body area seem causatively associated with impaired recognition of body but not of face and object stimuli. We also found that body form and body action recognition deficits can be double dissociated and are causatively associated with lesions to extrastriate body area and ventral premotor cortex, respectively. Our study reports two category-specific visual deficits, called body form and body action agnosia, and highlights their neural underpinnings.

Dipartimento di Psicologia e Antropologia Culturale, Università di Verona, Verona, Ital

I have had a level of body agnosia and pain agnosia in my life which have caused, social emotional disconnect, alexithymia, language processing disorder and so forth. This can also cause problems with understanding and perceiving “pain”, “discomfort” and my case “being full”. Staying over a friends house made me realise the problems that still resonate eating food and then forcing your bowels not to move then caused an unfamiliar “sensation” which I was able to then realise was “nausea” in the pub.

The second the delayed response was in the home when my body moving without understanding why or where climbing up the stairs I projected vomit but had no understanding of what, why or how. A wave of exposure anxiety came over me I had to stop myself from self-harming wanting to hit my head and arms. I said sorry repeatedly for the mess which was made however they were very understanding and caring.

Conclusion

I luckily have a sense of humour and hold these things with a level of comedic reality and I was lucky to have like minded people in my company. 😉

Paul Isaacs 2017