Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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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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What I Have Observed In The Autism World – It Needs To Change

The Beginning 

Author ImageI was diagnosed with Autism in 2010 at the age of 24 years old that same year I started a new career venture as a public speaker and later a trainer and consultant. After the diagnosis as my parents and I were walking towards car my Mum gently directed and reaffirmed to me that I was person first and both she and my Dad had always seen me (and would continue to do so) as “Paul”.

Culture Shock – Part 1

In my own naivety I was unaware that autism had a pre-existing “culture” that was in place I was slowly being introduced to words that I wasn’t either comfortable with or didn’t understand their significance in the ways of the world. To me in 2011 is where these internalised struggles started people were in directly and later directly saying that autism defines every part of them, what they do how they think and feel. I wanted to know the mechanics of my autism to empower others that was all. I also was on   a quest for my sense of personhood that I valued and still do first and foremost.

Autism Isn’t “One Thing”

Over the many years as a speaker, trainer and consultant it is only fair that Autism should  not be seen as a mass of traits that  affect the people who are diagnosed in the same way but as clustering of pre- existing elements that create one’s own unique profile. In 2010 I was introduced to Donna Williams’ Fruit Salad model of Autism which has helped understand the mechanics of me but a clear and firm realisation that seeing myself as a person first isn’t a negative thing but a positive thing.

Culture Shock – Part 2

As an advocate on the Autism spectrum I feel I have a personal and professional responsibility to not project the tired stereotypes and that the only perspective I can speak from is my own. Sadly, what I have seen is a very negative side of this culture which includes “neurotypical” being used as reversed prejudiced attack – I dislike this word as it creates more barriers and in my view isn’t the correct word to use. I have witnessed “them” and “us” language, separatism, militancy, bullying, death threats and character assassinations.

This in the last two years has been a real concern for me regardless of if you are on the spectrum or not this is no excuse for such behaviours. We should all learn to respect each other’s views regardless of disagreement. Personally I don’t see Autism as culture but as a disability where  a culture has been built around it. It is a set of ideas.

Mental Health – A Personal Perspective 

Because of these issues and others this has taken a toll on my mental health I have seen to much and it has made me question a lot things over the last year or so. I lost myself through over investment and low self-esteem and self worth. This is partly because my views were not seen on par with the status quo and partly the way in which I was told either through silence or attacks, I know I am worth more.

Equalism

I worry about the people on the autism spectrum who are functionally non-verbal, those who have autism with a learning disability and  parents and guardians are not getting their voices, opinions and realities heard and acknowledged.

Everyone is equal so therefore realities are equal (even if in reality it doesn’t happen) so if that is the case then the whole spectrum should be included? Surely?

Personhood First? Why is this Important? 

I was born a person and I will not shackled into thinking  that every aspect of me is my autism – for the reasons stated above I am going to explore other ventures such as art, poetry, fashion and so forth.

I am still an advocate, I will present speeches, present training, write and blog but with a different mindset to the world which I was eagerly presented to. I shall not miss this aspect of it – it is damaging and misleading and in my opinion needs to change before others get treated the same way.

Beyond The Label (Pastures Green)

Ever the thoughtless fable to define someone by a label

To glamourise or demonise is the answer listen to your call

Can you really speak for all? A court Jestor or fool?

Beyond the label is before loving the person for themselves

Out of the confines you shed a smile. It has been a while?

I look at the rolling fields and trees, the splender of the grass

The waving flowers and the earth, watching the world pass

The plodding dog eager to please, always up for a tease

I have no regrets my body is fluid it doesn’t stall to freeze

I sup on tea and live in moment -I want to please.

 

Paul Isaacs 2015


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Autism, Mirroring and The “Sense Of Self”

Note- This is from a personal perspective

The mirror stage (French: stade du miroir) is a concept in the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan. The mirror stage is based on the belief that infants recognize themselves in a mirror (literal) or other symbolic contraption which induces apperception (the turning of oneself into an object that can be viewed by the child from outside themselves) from the age of about six months

The mirror stage is a phenomenon to which I assign a twofold value. In the first place, it has historical value as it marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body image. (Lacan, Some reflections on the Ego, 1953)

BubblesMirroring and “Sense Of Self”

What is it? – did I even understand that it was me? Or have conscious understanding of what my body was in space and time, in context of other objects and people – going through a pattern where my movements dictated the tone and the very nature of what I was doing in that moment – living in the moment going from one patterned place to another.

My Body, Movements & My Perceptual World

My body and face “alien” in its projection (and it’s projection back to me) movements from other didn’t connect that I had a body but when I was at pre-school my hyper-active movements around the little hut gave me a “sense of being” to some degree before I sat down again – sounds, jingles, colours, shapes and shine where the domineering force in a sense they were friends they gave me (at least in my world) a sense of connectivity and stimulation.

Friendships, Language & “Connecting”

My first “friends” where water and toilets – this was a sense of connecting with the outside but also a feeling it gave me on the inside I was aware of the love that my parents had for me that didn’t need to be extracted (it was a feeling of sensing) and that was a firm and positive basis of connectivity I had with others. So what helped?

  • Rough and tumble play with my Dad (helping me connect my own body and also perceive parts of my own and “recognise” my Dad by his facial features)
  • My allowing me to touch her hair (to “recognise” her)
  • Experience the world through touch – allowing me to touch, take my shoes and socks off in the back garden etc
  • Clipped telegraphic language

Mercurial Personality 

  1. Romantic attachment. Mercurial individuals must always be deeply involved in a romantic relationship with one person.
  2. Intensity. They experience a passionate, focused attachment in all their relationships. Nothing that goes on between them and other people is trivial, nothing taken lightly.
  3. Heart. They show what they feel. They are emotionally active and reactive. Mercurial types put their hearts into everything.
  4. Unconstraint. They are uninhibited, spontaneous, fun-loving, and undaunted by risk.
  5. Activity. Energy marks the Mercurial style. These individuals are lively, creative, busy, and engaging. They show initiative and can stir others to activity.
  6. Open mind. They are imaginative and curious, willing to experience and experiment with other cultures, roles, and value systems and to follow new paths.
  7. Alternate states. People with Mercurial style are skilled at distancing or distracting themselves from reality when it is painful or harsh.

Source: Oldham, John M., and Lois B. Morris. The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam, 1995.

How this “Personality Type” relates to me

Despite a lot of information processing and language issues with my autism profile I try to live life as a free spirit and appreciate others values and beliefs, sensitive to others realities and conscious of their thoughts and feelings and I like to help others to – this sound “odd” because what I have written above this but this is part of my personhood that was growing within me. I still have many of the developmental and processing issues stated management of both these aspects is key and of course very person-centred.

Negative Disordered Traits & Management of Them – Borderline Personality Disorder

In 2007 I had a nervous breakdown and BDP is the “extreme” and “disordered” variant of the mercurial personality

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

How I manage this 

Conceptualization of the subject – what is fact and what is assumption? What is real and what isn’t? What is my “gut” telling me? Being comfortable in your own skin is worthy and functional goal to achieve.

A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

How I manage this

Everybody is a human being and things happen in their lives as well as yours and over intensity (which in my case I wasn’t conscious of doing this) will not be liked, feel “too much” or “overwhelming for the other person”. No person is “black” or “white” in perception it is far more diverse for that.

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;

How I manage this

The journey of what is is self? How this describes me? Understanding that I am a person has always helped me with this aspect (even if I struggle with a senses of self knowing I am a human being is a good start.

Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

How I manage this

Why am I spending and over-eating? What is the core of the problem? Has something happened in my life? Is it a reaction to something in the past? Or does it have no root cause?

Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

How I manage this

What has caused me to feel this way? What situation? (and/or situations?)

Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

How I manage this

Going with the flow this will end and dissolve, finding productive things to do with my time and don’t get “stuck” in this loop of anxiety.

Chronic feelings of emptiness

How I manage this

The feeling of lonesomeness is perceptual and could be to do with a lack of connectivity, lack of doing and being and also a need to be getting on with things in your life.

Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

How I manage this

Don’t hold on to negative feeling like hate, anger, sadness they are a normal part of human life and one can move on from them with the right balance.

Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

How I manage this

Dissociation is on a spectrum, why has this happened? what are the root causes? How can you move on and manage this in the context of “now” and for the “future”?

Now In The Context Of My Autism (Processing Information)

Alexithymia

Emotions can be overwhelming and and “under” processing of emotions in time can cause a “plug” or “blockage” meaning a situation can happen for me which may require (in-real time) a emotional response but doesn’t happen because I am not “there yet”. It has taken me days, months or years to process an singular or multiple event this emotional wave of raw emotions felt like an attack which lead to self harm (hitting my legs, arms and head) what has helped me is understanding that when this wave hits I can cope be staying calm. 

Visual Agnosias (Visual Perceptual Disorders)

Not “seeing” with meaning meant there was no context to what was going on it was blobs, fragments, bits and pieces self and other where “alien” because there was “real” basis for it happening because I couldn’t home in what was what – what helped was my parents allowing me to explore my sensory world in way that gave it some sort of reality. Tinted lenses have greatly helped me in accessing visual information.

Meaning Deafness (Aphasia)

Strands of information that are too fast, long go into nothingness – I have no visual memory and cannot internalise words with a “visual picture” so elevated tone and gestures  to create a context that my mind is able to process with a high sense of clarity and meaning. Movement is very important to me.

Body Disconnection (Visual-Spatial Dysgnosia) 

My body is a “thing” that is around me it feels disjointed, awkward and clumsy so I have worked out ways of making it feel more real – I have pressure points so band and bracelets around my wrists, a tight jacket around the trunk of my body, a tie around my neck, and tight shoes for my fee. This gives me at least 4 points/areas of awareness and there can be more with my tinted glasses, headphones and tying my hair back.

Context From two angles – Personality & The “Pieces” of My Autism 

Healthy management of my personality to keep the volume “normal” and accessing the pieces of my autism that need addressing has helped with being a more happy and content person.

Friendships & Boundaries 

For many years this lack of management, processing confusion, context blindness and personality issues have created issues but recently through being introduced to more positive, productive friendships which are balanced, ordered and healthy this has given me a fresh new perspective of what “other” is.

  • Boundaries That Are Healthy – considering and empathising is a two way process 
  • When Problems Happen – take a step back, being there comes in many different forms
  • Sensing “Good” Vibes – your gut is important and is telling you a lot without any words at times

Self and Other – Pattern, Theme & Feel (D.Williams)

I live in world were logical and cognitive reasoning is not king (I have an autie way of processing not an aspie) it is through sensory based reasoning, feeling, experiencing through touch, movement, sound etc. This is the world I still live in and by relying on my system of sensing it has helped me understand things before I could/can verbalise them. I will hopefully create little bridges of connectivity for the future. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2014


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What A World Before “Typical” Interpretation Means To Me

Note – This is from a personal and developmental perspective 

I have been writing for many many months now about my personhood and my developmental disability and how they interact – interjecting, unraveling and pinpointing different aspects of it hopefully helping anybody who connects with it. I world before meaning let’s start with that.

Sensory ExplorerWhat Is Meaning?

Visual, Language Processing & Auditory Information

That means for me when sounds what ever they are (words or in the environment) have limited and/or no origin and the origins are not there in an instant nor is the the association so it has to be found in a different way.

For me things have to be touched in order to have meaning (my visual field is far too fragmented to get make that sort of instant connection) experienced through tactile association. Information and words have to be brought to life through gesture, elevated and exaggerated tone, movement and objects of reference like sculpting a piece of art giving meaning and connectivity.

They Way I Process

I don’t live in a world of logic, practical semantics or pragmatics nor do I work out the world that way. I create but I don’t have a vast cognitive landscape things for me have to be more refined.  My emotions come more through my movements more than my words (although I can use both poetry to extract) I like things that don’t require any complicated reasoning or explanation.

Sensory Explorer 2Such as 

  • The roughness of bark
  • The texture of moss
  • The feeling of swimming colours
  • The movement of the water
  • Sounds and words that don’t have an origin but sound and feel nice
  • Sculpting faces
  • Patterning movements

Autism & Asperger’s Profiles

I have Autism and knowing to difference between an Autism profile and a Asperger’s is needed in order to understand the mechanics but never over invest or over define a person by their condition always remember personhood is something people all share. If people keep thinking and educating that autism has one profile, one look and one method of using interventions then we need to listen and be more inclusive. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2014


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Harold Doherty Autism Advocate & Parent – Breaking Stereotypes and Keeping Real About The Realities Of Autism

I had the privilege of reading one of most thought provoking and very real posts on a blog by a Father with a son with classic autism – The father’s name is Harold Doherty and his son’s name is Conor.

Keeping it Real 

That is what I liked about Harold’s posts they are honest, sincere, direct and give true honesty and humility about the realities facing many people on the autism spectrum, he breaks down stereotypes, assumptions and the glamorisations within what autism is  and what it means for him and his son.

Fruit Salad Analogy Copyright D.Williams

Fruit Salad Analogy Copyright D.Williams

Autism cannot be represented by one person

No it cannot everybody on the autism spectrum has a diverse set of conditions and syndromes (a clustering if you will) this means that autism in itself is diverse – what makes up a person’s autism? What are the mechanic’s? Or as Donna Williams what is the “fruit salad”?

The Forgotten

Many people on the autism spectrum who have classic autism are forgotten so there is an imbalance in both the media, books and  other forms of media out there – Harold not only states this but backs it up with statistics and the realities of this for people with classic autism and their family members, this is surely not fair and services should be tailored and person-centred for people’s very specific needs.

Autism – Disorder or Difference?

What I would hope is that some day, academics and practitioners who have promoted the careers and perspectives of high functioning autistic persons and trivialized the challenges faced by those who suffer from severe autism disorders will start showing some integrity and professional responsibility whether they live in Montreal, Canada, New York, USA or Sydney, Australia. What I hope is that all academics and professionals will stop trivializing the severe challenges faced by so many with autism disorders and tell the world the whole truth about autism DISORDERS.

Harold also gives very real account of why he calls Autism a disorder – personally I agree with him and there is responsibility for people to be told the truth about such things, this clearly isn’t out militancy it  is out of education, compassion and need for more awareness.

My Autism Profile

My Autism profile as I have stated in many posts in complex due to brain injury and very nature of my sensory perceptual agnosias, language processing issues and a “mild” learning disability and so forth I have no problem with the word disorder, nor the word disability it is a fact and knowing the truth however hard it;s worth it. I can only educate by saying this is my profile and that I don’t represent everybody on the spectrum that would be unfair and grossly inaccurate.

Conclusion

I say keep going Harold, keep educating, spreading the word and keeping it real it will be a huge benefit to everyone the advocacy you are doing.

Paul Isaacs  Adult with Autism 2014

Links

HAROLD’S BLOG

HAROLD’S TWITTER PAGE


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Inclusion In The “Autism World” Means Looking Into All Realities – Not Projecting Stereotypes

Fruit Salad Analogy Copyright D.Williams

Fruit Salad Analogy Copyright D.Williams

All Autism Profiles Are Different

Every person with Autism has their unique profile, ways of processing, styles of learning, some have metabolic issues, some are not visual thinkers, some have different ways of communicating other than speech that is valid and equal. In other words Autism isn’t “one thing” so no one person can say (including myself) that Autism  is one thing and one reality for everybody, it is person specific, profile specific and environmentally specific.

Projecting True & Diverse Realities 

By acknowledging this you break down barriers, stereotypes and assumptions – inclusion is about acknowledging the realities of people and not projecting and feeding stereotypes which ironically excludes and alienates many people as a result. I don’t say “us” and “we” in speeches because it is my profile.

Some people have an Aspie profile others have an Autie profile and some people have a mixture and can relate to both. I have an profile Autie in terms of the mechanics.

People who also have use different forms of communication to get their words out, connect with friends and family have a right have their realities be know and and acknowledged as well as people with Autism and a Learning Disability too the same thing applies in terms of inclusion.

Validation Of Personhoods

I believe that all being said that personhood should be valid part of acknowledgment for people on the spectrum – so that an grow in a balanced manner.

Paul Isaacs 2014