Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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What is Achievement?

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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

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I Am Glad I Got Bullied And Here’s Why

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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

 

 


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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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Thomley Families A Place To Thrive

 

Thomley

 

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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


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Celebrating My Gramp’s Life

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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


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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.

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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

 


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Paul Isaacs: Living Through the Haze