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Autism from the inside


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There Are Two Types of “Social Emotional Agnosia” in Autism

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“Typical” Social Emotional Agnosia

Social emotional agnosia is the inability to see and/or perceive body language, facial expression and tone of voice, this mean that the person is only “seeing” factual information this rides along side an secondary factors such as a language processing disorder, alexithymia, mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders for example.

This tends to be found in people with a diagnosis of Asperger’ syndrome and is related the right hemisphere for the brain up to 30% also have faceblindness and sensory hypersensitivities.

“Perceptual” Social Emotional Agnosia

If we think of visual information up to 70% of is visual so what if a person simultagnosia? The inability to perceive more than one thing in their visual field rendering the ability to take in “social” information difficult, perceiving faces, objects and surroundings as “pieces”. What if the person has a receptive aphasia, auditory verbal agnosia and cannot retain information secondary to oral apraxia, verbal agnosias, exposure anxiety , mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders for example.

This tends to be found in people with a diagnosis of Autism and is related to the left hemisphere of the brain and the occiptal lobes and sensory perceptual disorders.

Image result for shoes paired Image result for shoes paired

You can have two pairs of shoes that “look” the same but once you look inside them you realise they are different in terms of “mechanics” that would mean differing styles of learning, communication and mentalising will come into play.

Paul Isaacs 2018

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Most Common “Pieces” in People’s Autism “Fruit Salad”

Autism Most Common Image

Donna Williams’ (Polly Samuel) set a legacy in what the adjective “autism” meant it was like a bowl of fruit and different pieces of fruit mean different things in this overview she covered in the image above the most common aspects of someone autism “fruit salad.”

 

 

Social Emotional Agnosia – Not perceiving body language, tone of voice and facial experiences means that person only “sees” and “hears” facts that means that the person maybe socially anxious and may need information shared to them (including emotional supply) in factual/pragmatic way.

Faceblindness – A person who doesn’t recognise people by their faces this means the person may connect more with the what the person is wearing, hairstyles, jewellery, voice patterns, walking gait. context is also an issue such as meeting people and/or getting used to seeing someone one context may not translate to another. You may need to ask them is they struggle with faces.

Simultagnosia – (Object Blindness) – A person who only see’s pieces of a their visual field and not wholes this could mean that the person finds certain environments difficult to navigate, people, places, objects may be hard to track causing anxiety, overload and on the opposite end euphoria and “sensory highs” that is person who is addicted to their own “chemical highs”. Lightening, colours, patterns, colours, stairs (surface changes), shadows will all have an impact on perception.

Alexithymia – A person who does not process and/or perceive their emotions in “real-time” this can cause a reactionary delay meaning the person is always “trailing behind” to some degree and may give surface “responses” rather than “connected” responses. Give the person time to respond.

Dyspraxia & Overload – A person is struggles to motor-ordination issues, the movement of their body and limbs in and around their environment being prone to overload could be due to the brain and bodies movement not being in tandem causing/triggering chemical imbalances.

Lack of Simultaneous – Self and Other – A person who can do either “all self no other” and/or “all other no self” this means the a shared sense of “social” may be delayed and the mono-tracked way of conversing may have to be adapted to allow time between “switching”.

Language Processing Disorder – A language processing disorder can come in many forms and presentations the ability to find words (anomia), the ability to construct sentences (pragmatics) and the ability to receive and express meaning with interpretation some people may be “meaning deaf” (aphasia, verbal auditory agnosia) and need for example object of references gesture and tone and other who are literal in their perception and have atonia may need facts and to limit body language.

Communication Disorders – Some people may get tongue tied, stammer, are “tone-deaf”, have tourette’s, have verbal agnosia and talk through echolalia (TV shows, Jingles, DVDs and TV shows), some people have oral apraxia (the ability to use their tongue and facial muscles) having visual perceptual issues and associated personality types which in turn have an impact on style and/presentation.

Exposure Anxiety – A person who is triggered by direct communication and “exposure” triggering compulsive, avoidance, retaliation and diversion responses meaning that “direct communication” you may need to use a “indirectly confrontational response” such as focusing on the object, situation not the person, humanising objects.

Lack Of Mentalising – The inability to “juggle” information with a level of coherence this could be to do with information processing delays, sensory perceptual disorders, social perception and/or language processing this means that you need to work out the person’s “system” of integrating information with associated meaning.

Personality, Identity and Attachment – This is how the person sees themselves, differing personality types will colour a person’s interpersonal wants and needs and communication styles, sexuality and gender

Mental Health – These associated conditions will have an impact on presentation such as mood, impulse control, anxiety, dissociation and attachment disorders.

Physical Issues – They may have auto-immune disorders, disorders of metabolism, dietary disabilities, genetic anomalies which have an impact on overall functioning.

Paul Isaacs 2018

 


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The Problem with Somatisation Disorder

Image result for Somatization disorder

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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Book Review Autism Decoded: The Cracks in the Code: Volume 1 By Stella Waterhouse

 

This books is a must read for parents, professionals and people on the autism spectrum 

Stella Waterhouse has been a professional in the field of autism since the 1970’s with a whole wealth information that taps into the very soul with resonance and deep thought, she clear has a passion for getting the knowledge out there by presenting different aspects in chapters with detailed and accessible writing.

From detailed historical elements of autism, professionals and advocates on the autism spectrum  written with eager candor, emotion and objectivity to the multi-faceted nature of autism broken  down into accessible  pieces.

  • Sensory Perceptual Disorders
  • Sensory Processing
  • Theory of Mind
  • Context Blindness
  • Language Processing
  • Exposure Anxiety 
  • Alexithymia
  • Personality Types
  • OCD, ADHD and other co-conditions
  • Short/Long Term Memory
  • System of “Sensing”
  • Facilitated Communication 
  • Left-Right Brain Functions & Brain Development 
  • Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome 
  • Savantism

The running theme in book contextual to the information based on the specific chapter is to give a human element that touches the reader, makes them think, reflect, perspective take, feel emotion and more.(with first person account and historical accounts).Woven with relative and  factual elements (such as the brain and nervous system) that broaden the palette and overall sphere of information giving rounded, objective and fluidity the runs from page to page.

This is a refreshing book that achieves the very title it was given looking beyond the stale and liner 2D nature of autism and opening up a broadening 3D perspective that will no doubt help generations to come. Highly recommended.

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

 

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

 

 


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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


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Autism, Processing Emotions & Alexithymia

autism-and-alexithymia-image-2017

Note this is from a personal perspective 

Alexithymia is a condition in which person cannot find words to express inner emotional feelings, now this doesn’t mean that the person is devoid or lacking in emotion however it can from a outside perspective look like that despite the inner mechanics being quite different.

FILTERING THROUGH EMOTIONS 

I shall give you a personal account of this and look at other potential factors. I have a processing and recognition delay of emotion feelings in the context of the event that has happened – in other words from the time the event has happened to the time I get a self response is delayed this can come in the form of

  • Words for the the bodily messages that I am feeling 
  • Being able to piece the situation together from a emotional standpoint
  • Talking and having a conversation about a situation that in real-time has long since past
  • Having raw emotions that through time, experience, awareness and age I am able to better filter them

As a teenager I would harm myself when these raw emotions would take hold like attacking one’s self for their own emotions because the person in question hasn’t yet pieced together they are coming from themselves this to me a that point in time a a paradox but a worthy one to working through.

OTHER FACTORS THAT COULD BE INVOLVED

Other factors would depend on the person’s autism profile and fruit salad that would have an impact on the presentation of alexithymia such as

  • Visual perceptual disorders and not having a visual memory to process people, situations, words and mentalise thoughts.
  • Language processing disorders such as aphasia and verbal auditory agnosia needing time to find and extract words that have inner meaning to the person.
  • Body disconnectivity and not sensing or perceiving their own bodily messages
  • Diet and food intolerances are undiagnosed food intolerances having an impact on their functioning?

Paul Isaacs 2017