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, Emotions, Attachment and Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline Personality Disorder can be a difficult condition to live you may struggle to be “in your own skin”, have issues with “identity” and purpose in life, with other people and may flip-flop between different aspects of what you perceive your identity to be. Your emotional input-output may well disruptive and hindered.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause a wide range of symptoms, which can be broadly grouped into four main areas.

The four areas are:

  • emotional instability – the psychological term for this is ‘affective dysregulation’
  • disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – ‘cognitive distortions’ or ‘perceptual distortions’
  • impulsive behaviour
  • intense but unstable relationships with others

Emotional Dysregulation 

These four main areas may well vary from person to person and emotional instability and modulation may make you vulnerable to teasing and bullying in your early years as the reactions may well be more extreme and unpredictable in nature, you may push people away without realising or cling on to friendships that aren’t there. This can lead to internal problems with modulating one’s own emotions.

Cognitive Distortions, Dissociation & Psychosis

Cognitive distortions can come in many forms and affect how you deal with in particular negative emotions you may “lock them away”, project them through self-harming, other aspects that can distort reasoning are episodes of psychosis and a breakdown of internal and external reality this may be accompanied by episodes of dissociation.

Impulsivity & Challenges In Friendships & Relationships 

The person may want these aspects of life but maintenance for both you and the person you are friends with could be hindered by the symptoms above the changing winds of emotions, a lack of grounded identity and purpose, disruptive and sometimes paranoid thinking and firm and often “black and white” sense of what relationships and friends “should and shouldn’t be”, fear and loss and may have issues with attachment with people around them.

Coming Out The Other End?

I have documented my mental health issues over the years which includes having Borderline Personality Disorder and how that interacts with  the overall package within my “autism” and this is how of have dealt with these negative and sometimes behaviours.

  • People have their own thoughts, feelings and identities and one must respect a person’s autonomy.
  • Grounded sense of “self” I am a whole person with the ability to change.
  • Emotions are human and therefore not “abnormal” and are part of the human existence and managing them is crucial for healthy relationships.
  • All friendships and relationships are unique in their creation some last a lifetime others don’t and one must accept this.
  • I can help and empower people but not overbear them or smother them.
  • Seeking balance has a positive impact in your overall life and existence.

 

Darth Vader shows the key features of BPD 

  • He fears loss of people he is closest too. The Death of his Mother and not having a Father figure
  • He has intense and unstable relationships with the people he loves. His love for Padme and his and Father-figure friend Obi-Wan
  • He suffers from emotional dysregulation and has feelings of intense fear, rage, sadness and sorrow.  “I Hate You!”,  “Where is Padme? Is she safe is she alright?” 
  • He displays impulsivity and cognitive distortions through manipulation of Chancellor Palpatine. “In your Anger you Killed her (Padme)”
  • He has problems with self identity switching from “Anakin” to “Vader”. 

 

I have documented that when dealing with autism you must look at the rounded view that personality types and thus personality disorders can be a part of the package and if this is the case maybe we should looking a little deeper into what that means when managing a person on the autism spectrum who is in emotional crisis and the services that can be provided in the future.

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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Looking At What “Autism Is” Is That The Future?

I have been is the autism “world” as a speaker, trainer and consultant for well over seven years, I do not pretend to know all the answers nor I do project or promote that I have them all I can only speak from first hand experience of myself and the others that have been involved in professional capacity.

A 3D Diagnosis For The Future?

I what would like to offer a foundation of empowerment not because I know best but to give people the opportunity to find out about their “autism” what is made up of and the “mechanics” that go with it. I have wrote and documented my autism the fact that is made of being brain injured at birth, speech and language delays, sensory agnosias, aphasia, apraxia the fact that I have dealt with mood, impulsive and anxiety disorders also.

The fact that being borderline made me emotionally unstable, struggled with boundaries and also being schizotypal made me odd, aloof and detached from people and at times society. These “elements” are all about of my “mix” and words not only for these “pieces” empower not only the person in question but the services they come into contact with also family and friends.

Fruit Salad 2017

 

Looking Deeper, Looking Forward, Education & Empowerment

I went through my autism “fruit salad” at an event recently and asked if the diagnosis had pointed out the specific pieces how would they have felt? Also would this model benefit them it was a conclusion yes because understanding autism on thing but understanding the pieces of their children’s autism was felt to be very important, helpful, empowering and overall was a beneficiary to the services that they would come in contact with. Giving them not just the word “autism” but what it meant for them specifically.

My Autism Fruit Salad 1 Updated 2017

Autism Fruit Salad 2 2017

Autism Fruit Salad 3 2017

Conclusion

“Autism” is not “one thing” it is specific to each person also people do not have an “autistic personality” exclusive although personality types like solitary, idiosyncratic and conscientious would look more “autistic” but are smaller elements in the overall mix. I do believe that a person’s autism is everything about them because human beings are made up much than one element.

You can get  “non-autistic” personality types the people that challenge the stereotypes who could be equally adventurous and mercurial in their ways. For 2017 lets look at this from a broader perspective and empower people with knowledge that is worthy of making a difference.

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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The Importance of Recognising Personality Types In Autism

Note this is from a personal perspective

Personality types are just as relevant to in which a person behaviours and responds to the environment around them, this includes interaction, communication, lifestyle choices, interpersonal choices etc.

Personality Types A Mix & Match

We can break down these personality types into their basic forms. In example I will use three different personality variants (people can have to 4 to 6) however this will simplify the point in question.

Personality Types in Autism 2017 Image

Personality Types Are Valid 

People on the autism spectrum will have personality types within their “autism fruit salad” like all other human beings people have overlapping personality types which can be fluid or concrete, complex or refined, narrow or lengthy which will be dictated by genetics and the environment they are in. They can also spill over into “disordered” extremes.

Is “Autism” All Of A Person? 

 I think that the main factor that gets missed in the overall ensemble when looking at ASD is personality traits/types. To define one’s whole neurology as one’s “self” ego-syntonic were as I see my neurology in terms of autism as part of “self” not the overall picture “ego-dystonic”.

This would surely help professionals, parents, guardians and people on the autism spectrum? To know that part of being a human is to do with the development of these aspects to?

“Autism” It Is Apart Of The Mix Not The Defining Factor 

To put in honestly that fact that I am face-blind isn’t “me” it is just how I processing faces, the fact that have simultagnosia as see in pieces isn’t “me” but is how I process visual information, the fact that I am aphasic and meaning deaf and struggle at times process the words being spoken to me isn’t “me” but is how I deal with receptive language they are part of the package, the fact that I struggle to do simultaneous “self and other” isn’t “me” but it means I need time to gauge and internalise information is again part of the package .

They come along for the ride and my personality types will dictate how I cope, manage and productively find an outcome for these different processing issues I have. If someone isn’t seen as person first then what are they?

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism -The Three Stages of Empowerment

Autism “Fruit Salads”(© Donna Williams 1995/2005/2014)

This is bottom to top analogy which implements all aspects of what could be in a person’s “autism fruit salad” to start off with the foundation is to understand the mechanics of what is within a person’s “autisms” (rather than autism). By looking at this we can separate it into these aspects.

  • Communication profile
  • Social-emotional profile
  • Emotional processing profile
  • Sensory Integration profile
  • Sensory Perceptual profile
  • Receptive Language profile
  • Expressive Language profile
  • Motor-coordination profile
  • Dietary profile
  • Auto-immune disorders profile
  • Learning styles profile
  • Personality types profile
  • Identity profile
  • Co-conditions profile

Interventions

These will be tailored to the specific needs of person’s profile/profiles looking holistically as well as professional for empowerment, guidance, social support, emotional support and/or any aspect of the person “autisms” that is within the mix. For example you could have someone who has exposure anxiety and dislikes direct confrontation and prefers an indirectly confrontational approach, is profoundly meaning deaf and aphasic. Think how you would build up that person’s profile and empower them?

An example

  • Gestural language
  • Aiding Mentalising by building up meaning and association
  • Being a follower not a leader or an expectant doer
  • Leave them wanting more and giving positive affirmations

Solutions

They will come in many forms as they marriage of each step relies on the one previous with regards to the “final step” this will be looking at what is working, aiding and empowering the person, their families, guardians etc. This could be put in an report or functional document for educational and professional services to have or it could be used as an information pack for friends and family the choice is yours.

Remember autism is not ONE THING it is a CLUSTERING of pre-existing conditions within one PERSON and that is the thing to realise that one person’s reality does not mean that is representational of all because that would mean a lot voices and realities would be left unheard it is time to change the landscape and starts with being open minded.

Paul Isaacs 2017