Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


In The Last Ten Years

Looking Back

The last ten years have been very intersting in 2009 I was recently out of the Mental Health Services with two personality disorders, auditory hallucinations and psychosis, I was self harming and attempted suicide.

Early Infancy

By clinical observations I was serverely autistic, I was profoundly meaning deaf, meaning blind, body disconnected, oral apraxic and didn’t gain functional speech till later in infancy. I was and am thankful to my parents who had no means of any interventions (in the late 80s many were dated).

In 2010 I was diagnosed with autism and OCD and my speaking career started off in which I went freelance in 2015.

“Standards of Success”

By “non-autistic” standards I “made it” in many ways I suppose. I was considered “retarded” by the village I lived in and was targeted and bullied by the children and adults till my mid-teens.

Education

I was targeted and bullied at school from primary to secondary when I finally left in 2002 (with an isolated incident of sexual abuse) in the latter.

I went on to do an ICT coursecfor a year and had the greatest experience of my life from and educational perspective it proved I could be educated.

Bullying and Employment

The bullying in employment started in 2002/3 so multiple jobs were lost and gained.

I was thankful to the autism base in Chinnor in around 2008/9 for supporting me as well as the start of my speaking career in 2010. Over that period of time I wrote and authored 5 books.

The bullying in employment stopped in 2015 when I went freelance and started working for My World.

This is longest time in employment that I have been safe, comfortable and seen as a part of the team.

I Am A Person-First

People wonder why I use “person-first language” this is why because I do not want to be defined by a “label”. I do not like serperatist “them and us, us and them” rhetoric we (as beings) are all a part of the human race

From 2013 onwards to now I am pleased to have met some of the most wonderful and friendly people in both my personal and professional life.

Love and Life

I lost my Gramp in March 2017 due to metatastic prostate cancer, one of my dearest friends and mentors Polly (Donna Williams) in April that year also to metatastic breast cancer and my Nan in December 2019 due to pneumonia. I shall always cherish my fondest memories of them.

I almost lost my Dad in 2011 due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia and then meningitis in 2018 as well as my Mum in May 2019 due to a complex thrombotic disease.

Creative Mindsets

I have had great fun dabbling in art, poetry and what I call “insta-modelling” in which to my surprise and support from my friends up north has been rather enjoyable!

I have been interested in androgyny for many years prior and have been told I look as such.

One of things I can do well is pluck my eyebrows which I consider an achievement as much as anything else! 😉

Conclusion

So look beyond what is here, look beyond what is heard, what is seen, what is touched and sense people because every cherished little person is special and of equal valor and humility in this world.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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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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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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My Beautiful Amber – Dealing with Grief, Alexithymia and Autism

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IN REMEMBRANCE OF AMBER 2000 -2014 

Sometimes in life there comes difficulties of losing a loved one, Amber our dog was put to sleep today after having cancer of the mouth. She was confident, aloof, independent, playful, funny serious sometimes all at once. Animals bring much joy into your lives as they live in the moment, I did get up set today – The reason being I had a delayed emotional reaction to my first dog dying and Alexithymia thankfully didn’t come to call today and I have had a rare occasion of dealing with my emotions and grief in real-time the is the second time that has happened in my life with the death of my Grandmother “Nanny Janet” in 1998.

Paul Isaacs 2014