Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Autism, Alexithymia, Body Disconnection, Mental Health & Loss

Tulips

 

Note – This is from a personal perspective

In short space of time two people dear to me had sadly passed away my Gramp Gilbert Harpwood and my friend Donna Williams (Polly Samuel).

I knew that because of alexithymia I would find this process lag and that I wouldn’t be “emotionally connected” straight away this led me to going day to day with no sort of emotional context at all despite showing on the surface seemingly “connective” emotions they were not connecting with me on the inside.

Alexithymia /ˌlɛksəˈθmiə/ is a personality construct characterized by the subclinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.[1] The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating.[2

Expression Of Grief

After the month and half since my Gramp’s loss and not long after Polly’s I started getting pains in my arm, stabbing and throbbing like a vice was clamped on my left arm. I quickly ruled out tetanus (which is serious bacterial infection) this then progressed into neuropathic – like  pain which was shooting from my neck, jaw, arms, legs, feet and groin “settling” in places for minutes and hours with a “warm”, “tingling” feeling as it moved.

I know this based on having a family history of mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders many things came into place as well as somatisation disorder which is a pseudo pain diversion.

Anxiety and Somatic Disorder

Somatic symptom disorder occurs when a person feels extreme anxiety about physical symptoms such as pain or fatigue. The person has intense thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the symptoms that interfere with daily life.

Anxiety Neuropathic-like Symptoms

Anxiety doesn’t actually create peripheral neuropathy. While anxiety and stress have been thrown around as possible issues that lead to neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy is about nerve damage, not nerve symptoms, and since anxiety is unlikely to cause nerve damage, it can’t technically be peripheral neuropathy.

Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder)

Dermatillomania may be a reflection of a mental health problem. Psychological and behavioural theories suggest that skin picking may be a way of relieving stress or anxiety.

A Dolly Mixture Of Mental Health Conditions

I  know that I have mixture of differing overlapping co-conditions going with my mood disorder being an understandable and normal reaction to grief, skin picking and impulse control disorder which has resulted in my hair being riddled with scabs which is my sub-concious at work, to having excess adrenaline  that is being “stuck” in my body from time to time.

Externalising To Process My Own Emotional States

The alexithymia and associated problems that go with such as body disconnectivty (body agnosias and hemiplegia)  leaving me detached from my own emotional states leaves me also waiting for the emotions to come at a frantic, unprocessed rate leaving me to pick up the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. I have created my own strategies such as writing, poetry and art which help me externalise and thus connect with my own emotional states, thoughts and feelings.

Visual Perceptual Disorders and Mentalising

Another aspect is the visual perceptual disorders which includes simultagnosia (object blindness) assoicated with prosopagnosia (face blindness) and semantic agnosia (meaning blindness) which I have that means my memory isn’t “visual-assoicative ” and I have no “pictures” of “emotional association” so my “meta-reality” (which all people have) has to be externalised.

Remembering

I know that with the slow realisation of my internal states will aid me in the this journey which is a normal journey for human beings, remembering people fondly, the good times, the laughs, the smiles and interactions.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, Processing Emotions & Alexithymia

autism-and-alexithymia-image-2017

Note this is from a personal perspective 

Alexithymia is a condition in which person cannot find words to express inner emotional feelings, now this doesn’t mean that the person is devoid or lacking in emotion however it can from a outside perspective look like that despite the inner mechanics being quite different.

FILTERING THROUGH EMOTIONS 

I shall give you a personal account of this and look at other potential factors. I have a processing and recognition delay of emotion feelings in the context of the event that has happened – in other words from the time the event has happened to the time I get a self response is delayed this can come in the form of

  • Words for the the bodily messages that I am feeling 
  • Being able to piece the situation together from a emotional standpoint
  • Talking and having a conversation about a situation that in real-time has long since past
  • Having raw emotions that through time, experience, awareness and age I am able to better filter them

As a teenager I would harm myself when these raw emotions would take hold like attacking one’s self for their own emotions because the person in question hasn’t yet pieced together they are coming from themselves this to me a that point in time a a paradox but a worthy one to working through.

OTHER FACTORS THAT COULD BE INVOLVED

Other factors would depend on the person’s autism profile and fruit salad that would have an impact on the presentation of alexithymia such as

  • Visual perceptual disorders and not having a visual memory to process people, situations, words and mentalise thoughts.
  • Language processing disorders such as aphasia and verbal auditory agnosia needing time to find and extract words that have inner meaning to the person.
  • Body disconnectivity and not sensing or perceiving their own bodily messages
  • Diet and food intolerances are undiagnosed food intolerances having an impact on their functioning?

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Not All People With Autism Are Logical Or Literal In Thought Or Presentation

20160730_102005 (2)Note This is from a personal perspective 

What Autism IS and ISN’T

Looking at the broaden the aspects of presentation in autism it is about understanding what autism is and just as importantly what it isn’t.

It isn’t is a generic stacking of black and white linear symptoms that present in every person in the same way, what it is is a stacking of conditions that are specific and personal to the individual.

The Hidden Strands Of Information

I can of course be logical that is natural human variant of thought and has nothing to do with autism (and also various personality types will overlap with overall presentation), however  I struggle with intense over a analytical  logical decoding of a situation as it is happening that leaves many things up in the air for me.

Such as emotional perception, (not knowing my bodies own reactions to the the incoming information) receptive and expressive language (word formation, extraction, relevance, understanding), lack of visual association (no pictures for words), information processing delays (incoming information not being “sorted” quickly enough to be “understood”).

Taking Things To Heart? 

As a child more prominently and now as adult the residual issues are still there such as not seeing the significance of what is being said this is before the literal. 

That means I am less likely to take things on a personal level even if I am being spoken too in a personal way.

I was asked what I thought the main different feature was between Autism and Asperger’s. I think you’ll maybe find in reading through the site on brain hemisphere specialisation that there are many Aspies who may be better at left brain stuff and many Auties who may be more right brain but not nearly recognised for the abilities they do have as much as they are recognised for the left-brain abilities they don’t have.

© Donna Williams

Introspection & External Mentalisation

I use my senses and introspection to “decode” things and sort them out from there, I don’t have pictures in my head sorting things out I have to do the reverse I have to get everything out FIRST by doing, gesture, tone, inference, movement and then go from there.

I struggle to mentalise plans so I just “do” this means that on a unconscious level I sort things out with no conscious thought at the time. When I wrote my first book I just typed and typed and typed with the basic premise being it is a book about my life.

However I am sure there are people in the world who are not on the autism spectrum who can relate this. I have of course  “non-autistic” moments of clarity for me just as there will be “autistic” moments for people off the spectrum.

Paul Isaacs 2016


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Alexithymia, Somatisation Disorder, Emotional Regulation & the Loss of a Dog

Sometimes words cannot express in times the grief those thoughts, feelings and wants that you had for a loved one once they have passed on. This is from a personal perspective.

Emotions within “the self”

Being aware that such an emotion exists within at all can be difficult to decode and grasp in the end interpret within the context of its own reality and within its own significance one can witness and event that was seen to happening and not “connect” with it in a way which feels that is “correct” , “just” and “suitable” to me that is fine I understand why this happens within my “internal” self this is a road that I cross with not being able to “filter” or “interpret” my emotional states in “real time” or course one would expect a level of delay in such circumstances – but over many years I have noticed patterns my own behaviour that manifest during these times of grief.

Alexithymia and “emotional perception”

In my first book I document times of emotional perceptual difficulty either displaying an emotion and not connecting its own context or significance (such as crying from an emotive reason for example but not “naming” the reason or reasons behind it) or having delayed emotional perception which means a situation could be happening on a constant basis and it could take me years to filter how “I” felt about it like a wave of raw emotion hitting me all at once, in my teenager years I feel as if being “attacked” by my own emotions hitting my arms and legs, tensing my face and knuckling the temples of my head.

Emotional regulation

Regulating ones mood I have found to be difficult because the “origin” or “starting point “may take to time to be seen, understood and processed within the significance of the “self” and then the “other” (if other specific parties are involved) this loop once stared may well be overwhelming so the filtering starts on a difficult level now understanding and significance come into play.

Somatisation disorder

DSM-IV-TR
The DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria are:
• A history of somatic complaints over several years, starting prior to the age of 30.
• Such symptoms cannot be fully explained by a general medical condition or substance use OR, when there is an associated medical condition, the impairments due to the somatic symptoms are more severe than generally expected.
• Complaints are not feigned as in malingering or factitious disorder.

This has manifested itself in many different forms over the years it could be a headache, stomach ache, back pain, limb tenderness the list goes on but it seems to have running theme within my “decoding of emotions” with the death of my dog recently I started to have what I perceived as a toothache this pain last for well over three months (have problems with perceiving pain and trauma) I recently went to the dentist for a check-up and low and behold the wisdom tooth which I thought was “decayed” was healthy and no problems persisted.

Days after the dentist appointment the “pain” disappeared – I believe there is a connection between personality types, my emotional perception, and mood management and somatisation disorder and how I deal with grief and deep emotional states.

Emotions are human

Human beings are emotional beings and there are many different ways in which a person shall decode, evaluate, self-reference, and acknowledge and ultimately “deal” with their own emotional states is seems there are many emotional roads to Rome.

Paul Isaacs 2016


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“Autism” what does it mean?

Note this is froDad and I Dancingm a personal perspective

When I was diagnosed with autism in 2010 one of the first things that I was told is that was still a “person” even if I didn’t the mechanics and/or “pieces” of my autism that nevertheless was a sage piece of advice that has stayed with me on a personal and professional level.

“Autism” is different for each person so here is a breakdown of the “mechanics”

  • Emotional perception (alexithymia) problems with recognising and verbalising emotional states.
  • Visual perception (visual agnosias) problems with perceiving faces, objects, reading words, colour and “sorting out my visual field into a “whole”.
  • Language processing (receptive aphasia) problems with processing and interpreting “meaning” and “significance” from language.
  • Auditory processing (auditory agnosias) problems with organising the origins of sounds.
  • Body perception (body agnosias and hemiplegia) problems with processing and perception on the right side of my body which affects coordination, problems with recognising pain, hunger and thirst.
  • Body and Movement (visuospatial dysgnosia) left-right disorientation.
  • Light Sensitivity (sensory integration disorder and related learning difficulties) problems with light creating distortions as well as dyslexia and dyscalculia.
  • “self” and “other” processing simultaneous information which requires this can be difficult.
  • Mental health and personality disorders.

 

PERSONALITY TYPES

I have four main personality types which intermingle with each these are human in terms of presentation but will differ form person to person – human beings under stress may develop “disordered” versions of these types affecting social and personal perception, mood management and interpersonal relationships and friendships.

  1. Idiosyncratic
  2. Mercurial
  3. Self-Sacrificing
  4. Serious  

 

NOT RELATING TO “AUTISTIC IDENTITY/IDENTITY-FIRST LANGUAGE 

I do not see my whole being as “autism” nor define myself by it. I see it apart of me, in my case the pieces are emotional perception, visual perception, language perception, auditory perception,
body perception, light sensitivity, information processing and learning difficulties
 with associated mood disorders, exposure anxiety, somatisation disorder, dissociation and personality disorders but they are not a total nor finite definition of my being. I can only speak from my perspective and that is all.

I am “Paul” first with the all the positives and negatives that come with it the likes, dislikes, regrets, dreams and the sense of just “being”. I shall never adhere to the “club” there is to much militancy, over-investing and politics. I see myself as apart of the human race – no more, no less, no more worthy, no less worthy just a person like one of the billions of people on the planet everyone has a story to tell don’t they.  😉

Paul Isaacs 2016


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Supermarkets – Autism, Sensory Perception, Impulse Control & Alexithymia

Note this is going to be from a personal perspective of how this affects me.

For me supermarkets are very much I love/hate relationship they are full of things to do primarily shopping for goods that you need for your home or otherwise however the way in which my autism profile works there are issues related to sensory integration, sensory perception, impulse control and emotional recognition.

Sensory Perceptional Issues

In previous posts I have documented how my fragmented vision affects the way in which I “see” and “process” the world around me this includes of course environments in which I am being bombarded by stimuli but one of the things I have to put one hold is the want to touch and experience everything I can within the store – this is not relate to the literal aspect of the what the object is but how it may sound, smell, feel etc, plus getting visual information for me alone is redundant so the irony here is that touch gives me far more “meaning.” than just looking.

Impulse Control Disorder (related to sensory perception)

This impulsivity can include getting “chemical highs” from objects, shimmers, shines, textures, noises, sounds and smells these in some contexts can be very distressing for me but in other contexts they can be alluring and very much a “want” of course a “need” is very different from a “want”.

Alexithymia – Could that be another factor?

Processing incoming emotions (and naming them) for me takes about 24 hours in general and longer depending on the situation. I wonder because I am getting a “bodily high” that is enough for me to get a “feeling” that comes from the outside in spurring on the impulsive want that then relates to impulse control?

Getting grounded

What I have done over the years has been able to self-regulate on a level where even though those a initial bursts may happen I am able to keep on task and do what I have to do.
My tinted lenses help not only with piecing the world together but filtering the lights and giving me clarity.

Headphones and music also help me as this keeps me on topic.
By sorting out what the relevant factors are (and just as importantly what aren’t) it gives and foundation not only of empowerment and ownership for th person but a confidence can challenge themselves in otherwise difficult situations.

Paul Isaacs 2015


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An Accessible Look At My Autism Profile – Part 1

ReceptionThis is a laymen’s terms/accessible version of my autism profile – although I have written previous blogs with technical information about the “mechanics” of my autism here is an “easy read” version of my autism which is broken down into a heading and paragraphs and/or sentences with hyperlinks attached for further information. 

As always this is from a personal perspective.

Alexithymia (Emotional Processing)

Not understanding, processing or receiving my own emotions in “real time” this also affects how I understand bodily messages such as thirst and hunger – Poetry, painting , drawing and music help me process my emotions contextually.

Aphasia (Language Processing)

I have processing delay with language this means I struggle to find words, lose them, find them again and lose them again etc – I live before literal and struggle to find significance in language – however music, bests, rhythm and gesture help me access meaningful language.

Speech Delay (Developmental Milestone)

The developmental milestone of speech was delayed noticeably during my early years (please checkout other blogs for further information).

Language Delay (Developmental Milestone)

The developmental language milestone where delay even when speech was acquired.

Speech Apraxia (Verbal Dyspraxia) (Body Disconnection/Mouth)

I had a disconnect between my body and brain so my brain would have words but my body (mouth, jaws, tongue and lips) didn’t seem to want to “join up” this lead to feeling of heightened frustration to total indifference.

Selective Mutism – (once functional speech was acquired) (Co-Condition

In times of anxiety and/or dissociation I would choose to be mute

Tic Disorder & Globus Pharyngis (Co-condition/Mental Health) – 8 Years old – was called a “Nervous Throat”

This was due to a sensation of something being within my throat this would cause me to throat clear in an abrupt and idiosyncratic (odd) fashion.

Echophenomena (Developmental Milestones – Speech, Movement, Body Language)

  1. Echolalia – Echoing of words (delayed and instant)
  2. Echopraxia Echoing of movements (delayed)
  3. Echomimia Echoing of facial expressions (delayed)
  4. Palilalia Echoing of one’s own words (instant/delayed)

Visual Agnosias (Visual Perceptual Disorders/”Seeing” without meaning and/or “Seeing” but not piecing the “wholes” together)

Semantic Agnosia (Meaning Blindness)

Not retaining what is being seen so I would tap, sniff, lick, rub, mouth and tongue to gain a reality and an experience of my environment.

Simultagnosia (Object Blindness)

Not seeing in wholes – so seeing “fragments” and not seeing the “whole picture”

Prosopagnosia (Face Blindness)

Not processing faces and/or recognising  people by their faces.

Visual – Verbal Agnosia (Comprehension Blindness)

Reading without internalising/retaining meaning

Colour Agnosia

Seeing colours but not processing/understanding or recognising differentiation between them by name (in my case I recognise red but struggle to sometimes name of colours)

Mirror Agnosia (visual processing) 

Not understanding nor processing “other” or “self”  in mirrors for example I would and still get fooled by mirrors and when I was younger used to think that was behind me was in front of me.

Form Agnosia (Visual/Cognitive/Auditory & Contextual) 

Not configuring the “whole”

Pure Auditory Agnosia (Auditory Perception)

Not processing/understanding or the “origins” of sounds and associating them when I next “hear” them.

Language Auditory Agnosia (Meaning Deafness)

A type of aphasia (Language processing disorder).

Tonal Agnosia (Atonia) (Language Processing)

I “hear” tone but sometimes do not associate with meaning.

Pain Agnosia (Body Disconnection) 

I do not process pain at all or there is a significant delay in recognition.

Visualspatial Dysgnosia (Body Blindness)

I do not recognise my body in space so I wear tight clothes, bracelets, tight shoes to get a “reference” of my body.

Finger Agnosia (Digit Blindness)

As a child I had trouble reference that I had fingers and “where they were” this was due to body disconnection.

Paul Isaacs 2015