Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


Leave a comment

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 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 steaming 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. (percistanty anxiety).

  1. Assessment from Psychologist (educational?) to check ot 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 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 hating my “connected” voice which then in turn triggered exposure anxiety.

there appeared to be a gap in connecting and association.

Still have 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 verbal bullying from a senior member of staff at the primary school 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 manner years later when I wrote my first book I came to realise that on a “unconscious” all my experiences were unlocked through typing.

(receptive hearing problem? speech difficulties?)

I was traumed 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) found the process of writing very difficult the way in which I held the pencil, the ability to concentrate on 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 upbrings? 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 the parents were cold and aloof and didn’t seem to understand (be it wanting or otherwise) the serious practicalities of what parenthood meant for a child’s development and emotional wellbeing.

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 and 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 a 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 Dad 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


Leave a comment

What is Achievement?

2016-09-01 14.23.55

 

Do you judge achievement by the vastness of comparisons or by the person cantered nature of what has been achieved? I have not married nor have I the desired to have children. I ask how is my life welling up with fullness and ethereal walkings amongst the populous of humanity? Because I am comfortable in the roads, paths and darkly forests that tread beneath my feet. I think “achievement” is not what, if or how it’s the reason and honest virtues behind them that make them special and worthy.

Paul Isaacs 2017


2 Comments

I Am Glad I Got Bullied And Here’s Why

Me Holding Something 1

Note this is from a personal perspective 

I was speaking with two friends this evening and the subject of school-life came up it was an interesting exercise in subjectivity, objectivity and personal experiences shaping people’s lives but not defining them as we all move on.

My friend respectfully and realistically pointed out the fact that when students are at school (regardless of disability or otherwise) they are on their own unique journeys and difficulties can arise from all sorts of areas which have an impact of self-esteem, confidence and the ability to thrive on a functional level.

Enviroment vs. Social-Emotional Development

I was diagnosed late after my mainstream education had finished the best foundation for “social” I was given was through my tenure in education. It gave me the ability to cope with stressful situations, integrate and overall gave me the invaluable skills of living a “human life” rather than a “autistic life”. I was around people and my disability was not being flag waved to the point where I lost myself and was only defined by one single factor.

Is Bullying/Psychopathy Normal in Educational Settings?

I was surrounded by people who used interpretive speech. I still find this mode of speaking difficult and it is something I have aqquired a long the way in the context of school yes that was true. I cannot deny the verbal and at times physical abuse I encountered at school by other students on a daily basis as ‘normal‘ as their conscious psychothapy and narcissism was allowed run free regardless of the emotional damage that ensued.

Yes it is subjective and many of the students that bullied were emotionally insucure however being so doesn’t give you a free ticket to do it to others, however they did. I see this as a learning curve and lessons in life and I am thankful to learn from the shit and make sculptures out of it. 🙂

They may have changed which is great, found families, bared children etc I wish them well on their journeys.

Human Journeys

We (as people) are all on our journeys and bullying and victimisation was part of my experience however many others have been in the similar situations and I refuse to define my present situation by the past experiences. I am indifferent and objective about my past it happened and I am done with the “what could have beens” and “what ifs” I am thankful for my overall experience I would not have had it any other way.

I consider my reality no better or worse than any others, I don’t consider myself “special”, “better” and/or “superior” to anyone else. Affirmation has to be contextual and real not dished out like candy with hollow self-praise. There are too many people in the western world who just want their cake and to eat it all if only it was to shared out a bit more so other people’s realities could be shared and equally acknowledged with the sub-test of mine is better/worse than yours.

Tides of Glory 

I strayed and came about

Eager to scream and longing to shout

I have travelled a life which has been painted

I refuse to see my deepest memories as tainted

Come up and down and my thoughts fleeting around

I pick my body and ground my mind with the comfort of sound

A cloud full memories embraced and feetful of walking to be chased

A human being am I no better nor worse living a madless time at even pace

Paul Isaacs 2017

 

 


Leave a comment

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.

20160829_172026

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

 

autism-pyramid-updated-2017

 

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

 

 


Leave a comment

Thomley Families A Place To Thrive

 

Thomley

 

Image result for thomley families

It has been a year since Warren CEO and Joe Service Manager came to me with regards to being one of the many patrons of Thomley Families.

Moving Forward

I continue to enjoy the ventures, commitment that is made to improving the lives of people with disabilities at Thomley with the new construction of new Pavilion, expansion of the site, a dedicated staff team, fundraising ventures and community projects that set out not only to help the young people that attend Thomley but the family and friends also.

Empowerment

I have always been made to feel welcome and apart of the team this a firm reflection of the ethos that is instilled into the very fabric and ethos of Thomley Families as a place for people to be empowered, supported and to be connected. Many thanks

Paul Isaacs 2017


2 Comments

Celebrating My Gramp’s Life

IMAG0682

My Gramp had a wonderful send off yesterday the night before we said our goodbyes at the chapel of rest. He looked serene and calm in blue. I touched his face for the last time his skin soft and his hair the texture of snow. The next day we went to Oxford Crematorium to pay our respects and celebrate his life.

I firmly believe that in order to go to a funeral you must have known the person on a superficial level and that you aren’t there for your own selfish agenda to cleanse your sins of not being there while they were living, treating them poorly in life and making it all about you it is the ultimate hypocrisy.

I am so glad it was a celebration of his character, ethos, humour and outlook.

Gramp was a kindly fellow who cared deeply for his friends and family and would spread his kindness to those who took time to get to know him. He was funny, serious, charming, witty and above all loyal. He took shit and as another friend said made sculptures out of them from the people who decided to damage his character by spreading rumours to the verbal tirades he always knew who he was and carried being true to himself thats is what I loved about Gramp he loved life.  xx

Paul Isaacs 2017


Leave a comment

To My Gramp – Gilbert Harpwood A Man Who Enjoyed Life

My Gramp Gilbert Harpwood was a man who enjoyed life to the full he was an avid gardener tending to his vegetables and flowers with relish and passion, eager to plant his seeds that would blossom each year such as his runner beans, cabbages and brussel sprouts they tasted lovely and as he said it is because they’re organic.

Gramp 1930s

He was fascinated by the weather noting and logging the rainfalls and temperature changes through the years in his little note book which he called his “diary” which he has many of and would be interesting to look back at what he noticed over the years.

His other main passion was football and he was an avid support of Oxford United all of his adult life going to the Manor Stadium and also Kassam, he made many friends there and made lots of fans around him laugh with his antics and child-like wit which came in the form of chants, laugher, heckling and being accompanied by his little teddy mascot called Messy which he put in his bag with his little head poking out. Gramp always liked to imagine he was watching the game too.

Gramp Oxfod United.JPG

My Gramp was a pragmatic, idiosyncratic, humorous and a largely misunderstood man he was caring, loving, helpful and affectionate in his own unique way to his family and close friends. He was a very guarded man and liked to keep himself to himself only opening up to people whom he felt comfortable with. I am grateful for knowing him and spending time with him listening to his stories of old, wisdom, humour, political views and so forth.

My Nan and Gramp had a wonderful relationship which last over 60 years during his passing she viewed him as her rock they had a deep love for each other which last a lifetime with treasured loyalty to his wife, both sharing precious moments such as marriages, births and anniversary celebrations. Gramp’s favourite time of the year was Christmas time in which he would like to play the jester eagerly taking part in jokes, enjoying the food, the TV programs and other festivities with the family.

He made firm contributions to village such as aiding the management of the roads around the area, letting the council know about filling in the pot holes and also taking a general interest in village life attending the meetings at the hut.

 

Nan & Gramp 50th Wedding Anniversary

He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome a form of autism in 2011 at the age of 84 which in many ways surprised me that he was open enough to go to a diagnostic session and open up about his life with such candour and honesty, when the session was finished he concluded that is “why he was like he was”.  Reading books on the subject from the library.

Despite his cancer he carried on till the end a lover of life and person who wanted live and he will do in our hearts and minds forever if there is a cloud up the sky with a garden patch ready to be tended to I know my Gramp will be there ready to tend to it.

I love you Gramp and thank you. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2017