Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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A Journey With Exposure Anxiety

Exposure Anxiety comes in 3 levels:

  • Specific: Targets only specific environments, activities and interaction with particular individuals.
  • Generalized and other-directed: Effects all areas of life which directly involves others.
  • Generalized and both self and other directed: Effects all areas of life which directly involves others but is also present when alone.

Copyright Donna Williams 1991, 2003, 2008

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Residual “Exposure Anxiety?

If we think about exposure in a residual (non syndromic sense) those moments of embarrassment, aware of being aware, aware of your own self-awareness of the situation meant that you froze clamed up or even ran away meant that this “feeling” you wanted to escape, remove, and disappear.

 A Personal Look at Exposure Anxiety And Me

If you turned the “volume-up” on this condition you may find that it fits in the realms of being called “Exposure Anxiety” a feeling on a chronic level that falls into the three subtypes above. I would say that in my early years I had the 3rd one throughout my child and teenage hood as I grew into my twenties and was at the tail end of being employment in my mid teens I was thrust into a world of expectation from a social perspective that in many ways never let up. I never the less “kept going” and now at the age of thirty two I can say that the claws of this condition have shortened, nails smoothed and hands made smaller.

I would say it has an impact on me in specific areas so that is going from 80% to now at a more comfortable 30% and below I can show more of “myself”, be, share and talk in a more “connected manner” than I did even 10 years ago. Other things have changed to my environment, my purpose, life is but a rolling journey and that is the joy we can all celebrate and question at different stages in our lifetime.

My information processing being meaning deaf and meaning blind have changed, the tints have aided in those areas of visual perceptual challenges, and my meaning deafness is around 30% so I can keep a better track on conversation around me. My emotional processing and perception are still delayed that is a work in progress and I seek not to compare but to be the closest version of “me” I can be.

When we look at other people’s autism “fruit salads”, we begin to wonder what is the “driver” to what I am seeing? Is it sensory perceptual? Is it dietary disabilities? Is it seizure related? Is it emotional perception? Is it language processing? Etc. By looking at the person’s “systems” you are dealing into those areas of honest and humble questioning, what will you find and how will you adapt?

Common Threads Of Humanity?

Do people with autism have much more in common with those without? My answer is yes they do the only difference is the areas of that person’s “autism” that is challenging some to smaller more residual degrees others to more severe and/or profound degrees it is not the matter of it being a linear spectrum from “classic” autism to “asperger’s syndrome” but the also the palette of grey and what is specific to that person is what matters. All human beings have “system” it may be just that I have taken the time (which anybody could choose to do in my circumstance) and work out “what that is”.

Looking At People As People?

If one ignores the poison of the autism militancy which is political and unhelpful in its projection and reasoning one must look at the person and what “autism” is for them and means for them.

Paul Isaacs 2018

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“Neurotypical”, Reverse-Bigotry & The Warped Lense Of Equality

 

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Not this is from personal experiences

“Neurotypical” Is Inaccurate & Misleading? 

The word Neurotypical is used to describe people who are “non-autistic” but what if we have got that all wrong? What if the barriers are being created by the assumptions of what “autism” is that then thrusting one’s own presumptions of what it is like to be “non-autistic”?  I think that there really is no such thing.

Bigotry Is Still Bigotry 

Reverse bigotry is still that bigotry and if someone is using the words “NT” or “Neurotypical” to dehumanise, belittle or bully someone then surely that very generalised assumption if wrong? How does that become validated? Is it a sense of one’s own self importance, ego, group think and conformation bias, upbringing and/or past experiences? What gives someone the right to say these things and not take social emotional impact it has on the people in question?

“Autistic Identity”

This has worryingly been created through a “narrow” bandwidth of what autism “is” and “isn’t” but also what being “non-autistic” “is” and “isn’t”. The truth is there are far more similarities between people than not so why over invest in stereotypes? Which in the long run give people  a generic tick list of “traits”?

More Voices? More Perspectives? 

If we created so many degrees of separation do we strive to lose our objectivity? Being grounded means looking at things from the angle of non-bias. I have seen too much militancy that means that some people’s experiences have been silenced because they have not fitted the status quo that means there is rhetoric and that is unhealthy. Equality is for everybody.

No one “owns” autism it is not a thing to be bought or sold, no one should be able to cherry pick what autism “should look like” because guess what? It doesn’t have a “look” and more you give it one ironically the more voices will be lost.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Working On Yourself – Autism & Borderline Personality Disorder

Body Parts 2018

Note this is from a personal perspective

To say that my “autism” is all about “me” is highly reductive and naive statement to make it doesn’t take into account my life experiences, expectations, emotions and other worldly things that colour the palette of “who” and “what” you are.

Over the past year I have one and off thought a great deal about my own sense of self-awareness and the solidarity and sanctity of knowing your own vices and working on them.

Emotional Frequencies

For some people being “borderline” can about emotional Dysregulation and timely fluctuations in mood and the ability to manage them with a level of coherence and candour. This can lead to confusion for people around them a lack of continuity can scare and even push people away. The ability for me is to be objective and reign my emotions in.

Thoughts Vs. “Reality”

For some being “borderline” means thoughts and feelings are powerful and depending on your upbringing, emotional supply, developmental an environmental factors etc you can look at them as friend, enemy, partner, and divorcee. I have learnt that when a feelings are recognised over the years to “let it go” intensity subsides and management in the end is about taking control over something you may feel is “uncontrollable”.

Do Not Be A Doormat

For some being “borderline” may mean being passive and disagreeing and agreeing not making the inner connection with what is right or wrong which such a way of approaching conversation and you find yourself around strangers rather than people you really want to spend time with. Being honest with me has been a great help cutting of the cycle of being “used” because in the end I was letting people in with an open invitation.

Dissociation Vs. Self Identity & Fear Of “Aloneness” 

For some people being “borderline” can mean issues with boundaries and a lack of “self identity” and being prone to dissociation (derealisation and depersonalisation) that can hinder interpersonal relationships/friendships. Remaining a sense of “self” means the ability to become your own best friend not in egotistic or narcissistic sense but having a level of awareness of you own identity (groundedness) that you do not idolise nor demonise people.

Balance Is The Key

Everybody has 4 to 6 Personality types that include people on the autism spectrum so other factors for me are:

  • Visual perceptual disorders such as Faceblindness, meaning blindness and object blindness will have an impact on context, learning, mentalising and ability (or not) to retain “visual” information.
  • Language processing disorders such as aphasia, verbal agnosia, oral apraxia which has an impact on not only my ability to speak but to retain language with “meaning”.
  • Body disconnection, pain “deadness”, body agnosias, hemiplegia and alexithymia have made me at times unable to “recognise” and “perceive” inner emotional states and social-emotional frequencies.

Working on these challenges and seeing people as whole people as such will aid, empower and promote and healthy sense of “who you are” and build up sustainable and realistic foundations for autonomy.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Asperger’s Syndrome & Classic Autism? Or Left Brain, Right Brain Autism “Fruit Salads”?

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The late Polly Samuel’s (Donna Williams) through her career had pointed out that firstly autism was adjective a describer of an experience rather than a definer of a person, she also pointed out through her books and blogs that “autism” is different for each person a clustering and multifaceted condition made of different conditions in both neurology  and biology  and contributing psycho-social factors, identity, mental health and environmental factors

Asperger’s Syndrome – Left Brain Autism

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When noting and observing people with Asperger’s Syndrome the part of the brain which is being used to compensate for a disconnect right is the left, people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a condition called social emotional agnosia this means that the person cannot perceive facial expression, body language and tone of voice. Even thought sensory issues may present themselves it would to do with modulation and integration rather than sensory perceptual issues that effect different areas of the brain, faceblindness (prosopagnosia) has a high co-morbidity as well as dyspraxia, alexithymia and literal perception of language. So other words people with AS have to intellectualise in order to compensate for the disconnect in the right.

Characteristics of Right Hemisphere Syndrome: 

– Left visual neglect – an individual may neglect words on the left side of the page or not realize that there are objects on the left side 
– Difficulty with facial recognition 
– Poor awareness of deficits 
– Poor self-monitoring 
– Impulsive behavior
– Poor initiation and motivation 
– Disorientation 
– Impaired attention/memory 
– Difficulty with organization and reasoning/problem – solving 
– Difficulty with social aspects of language (e.g., poor turn taking skills, providing too much information) 
– Difficulty understanding humor 
– Difficulty with word retrieval 

© By Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP Monday, July 25, 2011

Classic Autism – Right Brain Autism

When looking at “classic” autism one makes the impression that the person has (and wrongly) a “lower functioning” variant of AS, this could not be further from the truth people with classic  autism tend to to have receptive and expressive aphasia, verbal agnosia, speech/oral apraxia, and a higher rate of visual perceptual disorders such as simultagnosia and semantic agnosia. However introspection is in tact and just look at the poetry and art.

What if my brain injury or stroke is on the LEFT SIDE of my brain?

Injury to the left side of the brain may result in right-sided weakness and the following communication problems:

  • Receptive Language: Problems with understanding spoken or written language (listening and reading)
  • Expressive Language: Problems with expressing spoken or written language
  • Apraxia of Speech: Problems with programming and coordinating the motor movements for speaking
  • Dysarthria: Aspects of the speech system is impacted, which may result in slurred speech or a change in how your voice sounds
  • Computation: Problems with number and math skills
  • Analyzing: Problems with solving complex problems

© 2016 CONSTANT THERAPY

 

Right Brain Left Brain Autism Fruit Salads Image 2017

Differences between Aspergers and Autism ‘fruit salads’?

 In one of my books, The Jumbled Jigsaw, I presented a range of conditions commonly collectively occurring in those with autism and Aspergers. I was asked about the differences between an Aspergers (AS) ‘fruit salad’ and an Autism ‘fruit salad’As an autism consultant since 1996 and having worked with over 1000 people diagnosed on the autism spectrum there are areas that overlap, areas where similar can easily be mistaken for same, and areas that are commonly quite different. Some with AS can present far more autistically in childhood but function very successfully in adulthood. Some with Autism can have abilities and tendencies commonly found in Aspies and some will grow up to function far more successfully than they could in childhood but, nevertheless, when together with adults with Aspergers they each notice that the differences may commonly outweigh the similarities. Generally the more common differences are:

ASPERGERS
originally called ‘Autistic Psychopathy‘(now outdated)
commonly not diagnosed until mid, even late childhood.
lesser degrees of gut, immune, metabolic disorders, epilepsy and genetic anomalies impacting health systems
dyspraxia
mood, anxiety, compulsive disorders commonly onset from late childhood/teens/early adulthood as a result of bullying, secondary to social skills problems, secondary to progressive self isolation and lack of interpersonal challenge/involvement/occupation.
scotopic sensitivity/light sensitivity more than simultagnosia
most have social emotional agnosia & around 30% have faceblindness but usually not due to simultagnosia
literal but not meaning deaf
social communication impairments, sometimes selective mutism secondary to Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)
sensory hypersensitivities more than sensory perceptual disorders
higher IQ scores due to less impaired visual-verbal processing
tendency toward Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), Schizoid rather than Schizotypal Personality Disorder and commonly Dependent Personality Disorder to some level.
higher tendency to AvPD rather than Exposure Anxiety
Alexithymia is common
ADHD common co-occurance but may be less marked than in those with autism.

AUTISM
Once known as Childhood Psychosis (now outdated)
generally there is always some diagnosis before age 3 (those born before 1980 were still usually diagnosed before age 3, although commonly with now outdated terms like ‘psychotic children’, ‘disturbed’, ‘mentally retarded’, ‘brain damaged’.
higher degrees and severity of gut, immune, metabolic disorders, epilepsy and genetic anomalies impacting health systems
mood, anxiety, compulsive disorders commonly observed since infancy
commonly amazing balance but commonly hypotonia
simultagnosia/meaning blindness rather than just scotopic sensitivity
verbal agnosia/meaning deafness
verbal communication impairments (aphasia, oral dyspraxia, verbal agnosia and associated echolalia and commonly secondary Selective Mutism)
lower IQ scores associated with higher severity of LD/Dyslexia/agnosias
tendency toward OCD/Tourettes, also higher rate of Schizotypal PD, DPD is common and tends to be more severe
higher tendency to Exposure Anxiety more than AvPD
higher tendency toward dissociative states (dissociation, derealisation, depersonalisation)
poetry by those with autism as opposed to AS commonly indicates those with autism can have high levels of introspection, insight
ADHD extremely common co-occurrence

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.
http://www.donnawilliams.net

Reflective Conclusion

It is simple people need to start looking at the functioning of the brain and how these different systems work for different people. This will in turn create advocacy which is not only meaningful and beneficial but character building and the correct information will give a broader foundation and palette to work from. I have autism (as opposed to AS) not because I am just “saying it” but because of what part of my brain effected.

What I am not saying (and never will say) is that I am speaking for all that would be disservice to many peoples realities. I am fully aware that this may challenge people me saying there are differences however looking at the neurology behind it and Polly’s observations I think there is room for healthy discussion.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Militancy & Autistic “Culture”- The Dangerous 10 Degrees Of Separation Between People With Autism & People Who Aren’t


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“Autistic Militancy” Created Words & Created Perceptions 

Autism and Militancy The word “Neurotypical” has created a lot of problems in terms of its projection and use over the years. The implication and the “reverse” bigotry that flows with venom towards people who are “not like us” (people who are not on the spectrum) not only burns bridges but causes emotional unrest, invalidation and social-emotional friction that otherwise should not be there. The whole aspect of autism being a “culture” should not give people cart blanche or the freedom to treat others in way which could be deemed predatory, hypocritical and character destroying.

Looking at both camps in moderate and objective way offers a exception of one’s reality and openness to share differing realities, the trails, tribulations, the ups and downs etc.

* Then there’s Moderates (like me, my husband Chris and those on the spectrum and beyond who hang with us).   I have gut, immune, metabolic disorders, a mood, anxiety and compulsive disorders, visual and verbal agnosias, dyslexia and I’m challenged in the info processing and learning departments BUT I’m a master of adapation and I don’t go for cure but I do believe in treatment and management for severely disabling or limited health or sensory perceptual disorders.  So with me ‘normality’ is relative.  You can use the word ‘disability’ and I don’t think it defines all I am.  But I’m more comfortable with ‘disAbility’ and ‘disAbled’ which emphasised that I have many abilities as well as, sometimes because of my disabilities.  I also use ‘diffabilities’, ‘differently abled’ and prefer to use the term ‘challenges’ rather than ‘disabilities’.  When refering to those not on the autism spectrum I avoid calling them NT (I hate that reductionism).   I use the term diversity-friendly as encompassing ALL diversity, not just those with labels (ie gay, deaf etc).  Moderates on the spectrum are content to refer to themselves as ‘on the autism spectrum’ (happy to see ALL humans as having some elements of autism at least at some time) without seeing this as a ‘sell out’.  They tend to see their autism as part of, intertwined with but not the whole of their selfhood.   I use words like ‘support’ rather than ‘help’ (because support is egalitarian not paternalistic).  Militant Culturalists often see moderates as undecided, weak or selling out in the battle to advocate and educate about autism.

Donna Williams

“Culture” vs Objectivity and Realism – Why I dislike the word “NT”

Looking at what “reverse prejudice” is it is no better than what any other prejudice is reducing people to a stereotypical label and all the assumptions that go with it. Why should people off the spectrum be reduced firstly to one word and secondly that they are going to act in a certain predicable way? Also why should that be accepted a projection of hate, dislike is still a projection of hate. There is good and bad in all human beings regardless that is why I do not use the word NT nor do I see autism as a definer of someone’s overall character.

I recently did a tour through which I met some wonderfully kind, enlightened organisers and many carers and professionals who had, humbly, come to learn about alternative realities.

I met some autie spectrum people dotted about the audience, sharing rows with non-autie parents and others and many came up and met me.

At one of my lectures, though, I met some autie spectrum Aspies who came in as a group and sat, almost huddled together, away from all non-auties.

At the end of my lecture I asked ‘did you enjoy the talk’.

The leader of their group replied in a tone lacking in warmth, ‘it would have been better without any NTs present‘. The others chimed in in support of him. Alienated, I left them to it.

Later when they were buddying up with more of the same separatist rhetoric and there was a tone to it that sat uncomfortably with me, a tone I’d heard before, in hierarchical non-autie children in playgrounds once upon a time (where I’d also known nice ones).

I had to let this group know that I simply don’t do bigotry… that my non-autie friends are not typical, mundane, boring or expendable and that I refuse to use any derogatory term that hints they are such, such as ‘NT‘.

As you can imagine, they were quite taken aback. I was meant to ‘understand’. I was meant to be ‘one of them’. But if ‘one of them’ meant I was meant to hang out in a group and dislike or disrespect another group, and share this as ‘belonging’ and ‘shared culture’ and ‘shared understanding’ then this wasn’t ‘me’.

Donna Williams 

Autism has a culture that has been “created” but what people need to be aware of that the the word autism is an adjective a describer of an experience so it doesn’t define one’s own personhood nor humanity. People on the autism spectrum have personality types like ALL other people the main difference is the different types of blockages in expression and modulation. Here is a breakdown of those domains in basic terms –

  • Social Emotional Alexithymia  – The inability to recognise bodily sensation in terms of emotional frequency and trajectory
  • Social Emotional Self and Other Processing – The inability to keep “on track” in filtering one’s own thoughts and perceptions with of another and vice versa
  • Visual Perception I Simultagnosia – The inability to “see” things in the context of their relation to anything else only taking in parts of an image not “wholes”
  • Visual Perception II Semantic Agnosia – The inability to “see” with visual and/or associative meaning
  • Visual Perception III Prosopagnosia – The inability to recognise people by their faces
  • Language Processing Aphasia/Verbal Agnosia  – The level and frequency of word finding capabilities
  • Body Disconnection Oral/Full Body Apraxia – The inability to construct words, sentences in terms of formation

Egalitarianism We Are All Human Beings

If you strip away the passe destructiveness of autism stereotypes, militancy, the group think, separatism, egotism, narcissism and open the door for all realities to be explored by different people, perspectives and realities it would be much healthier and less hostile place. The only “club” I feel apart of is the “human being club” it has a lot of members about 7 billion in total I like it there. Everyone is equal and if realities and opinions are going to be heard/shared there should be a sensible and objective arena for them to be explored.

Paul Isaacs 2017

 

 


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Book Review How to Best Help an Autism Mum By Sharon King

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BOOK REVIEW

Sharon brings to the life a world in which people need to know about and the confines of subjection opened up deeper and emotion as a well placed flower, gathering water and sun in equal measure. Sometimes people do not realise the awareness and complexity of the flower and sundered people look back tracking the enlightenment and darkness as forms of reflectivity and an eternal promise of and finding of happiness and stability. Through expereince one does grow and Sharon presents her own beautiful journey of grownth to the eager reader.

Sharon conveys deep emotional introspection and wit in equal measure and she takes us on a journey that is like dark chocolate mixed with sugar bitter sweet and to her own admission it is so as she explains that with glorious and saddening anecdotes, personal examples and gentle direction to aid, advise not only the autism mum but the friends and family around her.

She talks of her feelings of her three children being all diagnosed on the autism spectrum, her husband, family and friends with a whole family dynamic in tow opening up a social context to which autism should and has to be put in. How else would one learn of differing forests and pastures not trod? Unless the delving experience hasn’t been shared to others? Sharon’s wit, desire, vitality, vulnerability, realism and clear devotion to her family burst forth from page to page.

I highly recommend this book to people on the spectrum parents, siblings and professional to let lose parental, practical, emotional and empowering grasp on the realities that are faced.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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The System Of “Sensing” – My Friend The Colour Red

Postbox 2017

Note this is from a personal perspective 

My Friend The Colour Red

I see you without knowing

You are shown with no wanting need

My evoked body halted and time is stood still

Static and moveless body with a kaleidoscopic brain

My dizzying heights stupor the as my eyes grow wider

A peeking smile peeped across the face of the moment

What stickly feeling that evoked with the a swirling eternal colour

The System of Sensing 1998 2007

Paul Isaacs 2017