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Autism from the inside


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Autism – Communication Beyond Speech? Sensing A System Before Interpretation With Sharon King

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Sharon King Speech is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more ways to communicate

Paul Isaacs I have had many a good conversation about Sharon with regards to the “system” of “sensing” a world before “you”, “I”, “self”, “ego” etc. All human beings go through this developmental phase some people on the autism spectrum stay (to varying and differing degrees) in this framework. A world before cladding and concepts that build on to some degree intellectual understanding vs. introspection. If someone is still in this system they may well pick up on things/situations/emotions that are raw, they may see other functions for things rather than its “interpretive use”. 🙂

Paul Isaacs For example I would use the toilet an its flush system as a “toy” a place to contextualise, a place to feel and get “sensory/chemical highs”, I used shaving foam, litres of bubble bath to create patterns on the tiled surfaces for hours and hours, would/do take in the smells of nature around, its textures, its feeling. I have learnt that some people want to know how you are feeling this moment, at this time and in which order that doesn’t make their system wrong as it is system they are using just as much I am using mine so I think there are more degrees of humanity between people who are on and off the autism spectrum than people actually think. Boxes only muddy the issue. I also think there are many people off the spectrum who live in this system of sensing as well.

My World = One’s Own World. This is our first world. Before all of its later cladding and contortions, it is at first a place of sensing, beingness, the preconscious mind and unknown knowing. It is the place where we understand self in others and others in self through the skill of mergence.

The External World = The physical world known through our sensory experiences as processed through our bodies/brains and experienced as sensations, thoughts, emotions, connections. This is a directly hands on world where sensing and beingness may be relatively strongly intact.

The Interpretive World = the world of applied meaning to incoming experiences that progressively builds mental structures and frameworks that ultimately filter our direct sensed experiences of the physical world and develops conscious mind as the primary guide.

Ego World = Ego contortion that further clads, alters and filters the logical meaning we get from experiences of the physical world and further buries our original capacity for sensing and beingness. This can be indoctrination, culture, economics, identifications, rewards, honed addictions and competition for social, economic, cultural ‘currency’.

Donna Williams

Sharon King Sometimes I wonder if feelings are more real than the external reality as they are our first point of contact being ‘within’ and everything else is ‘without’ to be filtered through our senses.

Paul Isaacs I FEEL before I interpret so its almost like a translation with knowing on a conscious level translating. The main difference I see between auties and aspies is the the system of sensing (to some degree) is far more “there” this also is taking into account the information processing blockages that come with that.

For example my Father is very much OPPOSITE he build up frameworks first, concepts first and then feeling and reflections come second. Its in the end a differing system of understanding information around you.

Paul Isaacs 2018

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A Journey With Exposure Anxiety

Exposure Anxiety comes in 3 levels:

  • Specific: Targets only specific environments, activities and interaction with particular individuals.
  • Generalized and other-directed: Effects all areas of life which directly involves others.
  • Generalized and both self and other directed: Effects all areas of life which directly involves others but is also present when alone.

Copyright Donna Williams 1991, 2003, 2008

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Residual “Exposure Anxiety?

If we think about exposure in a residual (non syndromic sense) those moments of embarrassment, aware of being aware, aware of your own self-awareness of the situation meant that you froze clamed up or even ran away meant that this “feeling” you wanted to escape, remove, and disappear.

 A Personal Look at Exposure Anxiety And Me

If you turned the “volume-up” on this condition you may find that it fits in the realms of being called “Exposure Anxiety” a feeling on a chronic level that falls into the three subtypes above. I would say that in my early years I had the 3rd one throughout my child and teenage hood as I grew into my twenties and was at the tail end of being employment in my mid teens I was thrust into a world of expectation from a social perspective that in many ways never let up. I never the less “kept going” and now at the age of thirty two I can say that the claws of this condition have shortened, nails smoothed and hands made smaller.

I would say it has an impact on me in specific areas so that is going from 80% to now at a more comfortable 30% and below I can show more of “myself”, be, share and talk in a more “connected manner” than I did even 10 years ago. Other things have changed to my environment, my purpose, life is but a rolling journey and that is the joy we can all celebrate and question at different stages in our lifetime.

My information processing being meaning deaf and meaning blind have changed, the tints have aided in those areas of visual perceptual challenges, and my meaning deafness is around 30% so I can keep a better track on conversation around me. My emotional processing and perception are still delayed that is a work in progress and I seek not to compare but to be the closest version of “me” I can be.

When we look at other people’s autism “fruit salads”, we begin to wonder what is the “driver” to what I am seeing? Is it sensory perceptual? Is it dietary disabilities? Is it seizure related? Is it emotional perception? Is it language processing? Etc. By looking at the person’s “systems” you are dealing into those areas of honest and humble questioning, what will you find and how will you adapt?

Common Threads Of Humanity?

Do people with autism have much more in common with those without? My answer is yes they do the only difference is the areas of that person’s “autism” that is challenging some to smaller more residual degrees others to more severe and/or profound degrees it is not the matter of it being a linear spectrum from “classic” autism to “asperger’s syndrome” but the also the palette of grey and what is specific to that person is what matters. All human beings have “system” it may be just that I have taken the time (which anybody could choose to do in my circumstance) and work out “what that is”.

Looking At People As People?

If one ignores the poison of the autism militancy which is political and unhelpful in its projection and reasoning one must look at the person and what “autism” is for them and means for them.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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The Problem with Somatisation Disorder

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Note this is from a personal perspective

Certain personality types (such as mercurial/borderline) are more akin to having somatisation type disorders in which person feels they are becoming increasingly ill and/or have serious and multiple symptoms that indicated a serious illness and/disease.

“The main features are multiple, recurrent and frequently changing physical symptoms of at least two years duration. Most patients have a long and complicated history of contact with both primary and specialist medical care services, during which many negative investigations or fruitless exploratory operations may have been carried out. Symptoms may be referred to any part or system of the body. The course of the disorder is chronic and fluctuating, and is often associated with disruption of social, interpersonal, and family behaviour.”

Awareness of Emotional States and Somatic Pain

The persistence is the pain and the feeling that invokes, having alexithymia means that I have problems identifying what my inner states are leading to often painful and chronic psychosomatic symptoms which in my life time have included as follows

  • Nausea
  • Tension Headaches
  • Toothaches
  • Jaw aches
  • Lower back Pain
  • Arm and Shoulder Pain
  • Pins and Needles in Legs and Feet

The recent bout is having a pulsating tinnitus in my left ear which is anxiety/stress related and is not due cardiovascular disorder and or stroke related symptoms but never the less is persistent at the moment. Age and awareness in my case have helped with these areas of anxiety and “getting on with it” as means to move on and look towards the psychological/developmental aspects they have on me in terms and working from there.

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

 

 


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Autism and Asperger’s Different Trajectories and Different Presentations?

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Today I was doing autism training and in the team was lovely and inquisitive man with Asperger’s Syndrome as the session went on he shared some of his experiences from not picking up verbal cues, being literal and having sensory integration disorder as well as issues with emotional regulation and possible alexithymia.

It amazes me still that people think that “Autism” and “Asperger’s Syndrome” are still considered to some to be the “same thing” when is clear that even if on the surface some of the issues may be similar many of underlying components are very different. If I use both the gentlemen in question and myself as examples so here goes.

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  • The gentleman seemed to display a level of Social Emotional Agnosia which meant he struggles with non-verbal cues, tone of voice and facial expression he acknowledged that he use past experiences to build up a format of how to understand someone
  • He didn’t have Prosopagnosia (30% of people with social emotional agnosia do so)
  • He was literal in processing of verbal language and seemed to have less impaired visual-verbal processing
  • Possible Alexithymia which is “knowingness of your own emotional states”
  • Seemed to mentalise in a more logical, literal and pragmatic manner which suggests the use of the “left brain” person.

With Myself

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  • I have a mixture of Simultagnosia (Object Blindness) and Semantic Agnosia (Meaning Blindness) which means my visual field is fragmented, distorted and incoming visual information does not have any meaning, context or reasoning
  • I have Prosopagnosia (Faceblindness) as an extending of the already existing issues around visual perception meaning I “recognise people” primarily by patterns of movement and voice
  • I have a level of Receptive and Expressive Aphasia (Meaning Deafness) which even in its current residual form means I “lose” the ability to keep up with interpretive verbal information and struggle with visual-verbal processing
  • I have less literal, logical and pragmatic style of thinking or organised thoughts  I am very much a “right brain” person.

 

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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. Whilst most people have a balance of both abilities, being extremely one side or the other clearly means the abilities of that other side are far less practiced. Processing incoming information in a non-Autie manner usually involves using a good balance of the two. So feel free to try the test yourself.

Donna Williams

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Different Trajectories 

Maybe its is because I spent large part of my infanthood exploring through my senses and/or through patterning, theming and feeling struggling to get a sense of what “interpretive information” is and what it means? To be around such information and how to connect all the dots within in my mind. However I appreciated and acknowledged the validity of it in my previous blog post.

I flourish in areas of typing, writing poetry and creativity I love wordplay, sounds,  pitches and the seemingly infinite kaleidoscope colours, shapes, textures and shines they “talk to me” as much as next person.

Things Foundly Remembered

I saw your face with my hands

A voice a distant echo but foundly acknowledged

The smell of the wise tree in the garden the leaves did dance

A new place everywhere to be eagerly explored upwards and onwards

Flomping along the globblyness unstuck and unshackled my hands are free

Looking at the gloaming and silvering shape what plotunes and envelopes my soul

I thank you old friends you are me and I am likewise swashing around in the ink clouds

 

Paul Isaacs 2017

 


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Managing Grief and Loss with Visual Perceptual Disorders

Note this is from a personal perspective

Grief is a normal state to be in when you lose someone you love and have connected to and I know that this feeling or more accurately abundance of differing feelings that accompany it are part of the process.

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Visual Agnosias – Deficits In Memory Perception & Visual Association? 

I have no pictures of my Gramp none that “spring to mind” I cannot “visualise” or have pictures in my mind my “meta-reality” (a person’s inner world/consciousness)  is not made of pictures or movies as a form of association. It is made of of smells and textures I made a point when I said goodbye to my Gramp at the chapel of rest to stroke his face and hair so would have a physical association of the firstly the bond we had and secondly my way of saying goodbye to him and his body.

Paul Isaacs communication profile 2017

Bereavement Counselor 

I went to see a bereavement counselor today and I was thankful that he was able to assist me not only in the human element of my grief but also adapt his way of describing different interventions and explanations to me.

 This is what he used in  the session 

  • Contextual telegraphic language “painting his words” with gesture and placement and meaning
  • Allowed time for me to do “all self no other” and “all other no self” in order for me to express and receive the information
  • Compartmentalised my  own emotional states giving them a reference point and also suggestions in how to manage my emotions
  • Understood I have a history of mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders associated with somatisation disorder
  • Allowed me to be creative in expressing my emotions through creative writing, poetry and art

 

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Addressing The “Pieces” Of The Jigsaw

So what parts of my “autism” are being addressed?

  • I would say firstly his looking at a level of information processing delay and giving me time
  • The next would be that fact that because of visual perceptual disorders having a level of visual agnosia in the areas of meaning (semantic), object (simultagnosia) and faces (prosopagnosia) means that using gesture, placement and telegraphic language backed up with word emphasis in the right areas helps me internalise the words better assisting with the level of aphasia I have
  • Looking at my own emotional states is assisting with alexithymia and overall giving me time to integrate “self and other”.

 

Conclusion 

I would say that my grief is human and that I will get through this with at times very basic but meaningful interventions I do however hope this helps people with similar issues to my myself regardless of being on the autism spectrum or not.

 

Paul Isaacs 2017

 

 


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Autism, Alexithymia, Body Disconnection, Mental Health & Loss

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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