Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Autism – The Crossover from “Sensing” to “Meaning”

Sensing vs Interpretation 2918 image

 

Note this is from a personal perspective

Talking yesterday to friend about speech and language I thought it was interesting to see progression the inner feelings of someone who has gone through significant challenges in receptive and expressive language. I can remember a whole host of disconnected emotions that came flooding towards my person when speech slowly developed in terms of expression, a whirl wind of patterns, phonics and placements in my collective unglued memory and figured out by the ages of eight a system of external placement, phonic placement and movement sequences that helped me connect with the outer world around me.

However what was challenging from both emotional and integration point of view was taking a step away from the system of “sensing” (Donna Wiliiams 1998) a state of pre-consciousness, patterns, thematics and “feelings” that answered and questioned, that supplied and didn’t demand, that sang but didn’t shout, that gave and took in relevance of the moment it was captured. A place which “being” was the name of the game and “storing information” was redundant and futile.

It was a world in which in my own way I had found connects through external sensory modulation as explained so switching my “systems” was much a painful and frustrating experience as I can ever remember my connected chatter annoyed and scared me and the connected words would then bring upon the attention of connected response to which I was not readily to respond.

So was it like losing a friend well at that point yes I was making subtle yet significant transition into the world of interpretation, cladding, hierarchy and applied meaning for someone who was profoundly meaning deaf and meaning blind to those concepts it certainly makes sense why I wanted to “go back” into a world of “sensing” it was in reflection both a prison and sanctuary, solitude and disarray and home and wilderness all at once.

We (human beings) all come from the system of “sensing” however my personal experience is being “there” for a longer allotted period and many ways I am still there with reflective gaining and personal developmental progressions that have come with it.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Egotisms vs. “Developemtnal Egocentrisms” – Understanding “Other Through Self” In Autism

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Note this is from a personal perspective

To be a egotist one must have a self-inflated sense of “self” (the ego) in which everything has to be about them, for them and with them you could construed this a narcissism and unhealthy relationship with ego and the ability to get “other” as necessary part of life. This doesn’t mean that people with autism cannot be egotists by the way.

Oxford Living Definition

1.1 Centred in or arising from a person’s own individual existence or perspective.

‘Egocentric spatial perception’

“Developmental” Egocentrism

This on the “surface” in its multiple forms see like the “same” if a  person taps on the surface this could be as so but what is the person is trying (unconsciously in some cases) to understand other?

Faceblindness and Mirrors

It took me years up to the age of 16 years to realise that the “friend” that followed me into the bathroom and public toilets was “me” I sought a lot of comfort from “him” as I stared into the mirror I wasn’t aware that it was “self” so I played with the “friend” pulling faces, gestures, expression contorting my features etc. Transfixed I would struggled to perceive that was in the mirror was behind “me” leaning the toward the mirror I would try to pick things out of it not understanding the concept of “mirror” is reflection one’s own physical form.

Meaning Deafness and Echolalia

I would have contradictory experience with being profoundly meaning deaf all around me was fragmented people making “soundscapes” to one another this would both intrigue, annoy and frightening me depending on the context, the people and the situation. Listening to jingles, TV shows and VHS’ was indirectly and opening for “other” I could follow the patterns of the program endlessly as they were in the end a linear form of repetition of sounds, colours and movements.

Visual perception and Making Connections

Being both meaning blind and object blind meant my visual world was redundant and I was only using up to 30 percent of information (taking into account visual perception is around 70 percent of information). I would “live” in a system of sensing (before typical interpretations and applied meaning) for connected experiences they had to come from other senses, touch, taste, smell and movement gave “life” to my physical environment. I would connect with “people” in a fragmented manner smell, touch, patterns of movement etc.

Using One’s Own “System”

I have no doubt in  reflection on my experiences that I have made progression in many areas however the point I am trying to make is the context of autism is that “developmental egocentric systems” in my case were used as “bridge” unconsciously or otherwise understand “other”. The internal struggle was the blockages developmentally and neurologically to extract my own though systems, interpretive systems and inner/outer dialogue of coherence at time where I could not get a shared “sense of social”.

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 Journey To Functional Language

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Note this is from a personal percpetive

There is a percentage of people on the autism spectrum who overcome a level of severe language processing disorder. I have been diagnosed with autism in 2010 at the age of 24. My trajectory was a wobbly one part of my autism was brain damage at birth (left hemisphere) which meant receptive and expressive language was impaired this was a RECEPTIVE & EXRPRESSIVE APHASIA, I was sleepy baby and my Mum notices differences at about 6 months old. My language impaction was a mixture of neurological and in early infancy environmental.

I had speech and language DELAYS as part of my language journey this included missing MILESTONES, and then I had TRAUMA which was do with having adenoidectomy and circumcision. I had ORAL APRAXIA which meant that words at times expressively where a jumbled mess. I was echolalic, echopraxia and echomimic TV shows; VHS you name was stored phrases, movements and sequences. I had roughly between 80- 90% meaning deafness up till the age of 7/8 years old. When a level of functional speech which “my own” it felt stilted, “alien” and non-fluent and garnered from my perspective a lot of unwanted attention so I went into bouts of SELECTIVE MUTISM through my late infancy. Visual perception had an impact of PICTURE/WORD association meaning I was largely kinaesthetic due to by object and meaning blind – SIMULTAGNOSIA and SEMANTIC AGNOSIA.

Now as an adult I would say I am residual being about 30-40 % meaning deaf, tinted lenses have helped my make simple but dramatic visual associative contexts although I still struggle to know the difference between a toaster and a bread bin! 😉 I someone speaks to quickly, background noise, doesn’t use gesture and/or objects of reference I may well pick up the words but not glue the “meaning” to them.

I have functional speech but it can still tumble and become laboured due to fatigue and residual aspects of ORAL APRAXIA and my social emotional world is tapped into INTROSPECTIVELY through art and poetry. I still live in a system of SENSING the unknown “KNOWNINGNESS” which means that I perceive far more than I know until it is “out there” on paper form then feed it back to myself and understand what is going on! My mind is like confetti but I have overcome many obstacles due to autism, developmental delay, language processing and visual perception.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Autism & Living With The Fallout of Language Processing Disorder

Note – This is a from a personal perspective

Early Years & Its Relation To Language Development

I was born in 1986 and with the impact of a premature nervous system, brain injury due to complications of a placental abruption, cerebral asphyxia/hypoxia, fetal distress which caused in turn issues with visual perceptual disorders – rendering me object, meaning and context blind and due to the left hemisphere injury receptive and expressive language processing disorder. The picture below is on me not long after I was born signs of being premature are evident by the colour of my skin which is jaundice, fisted hands are sign of the nervous system being impaired. My Mum also noted that I was sleepy baby a common factor in babies who have the sort of start to life which I did.

Premature 1

Overall I started to speak (with no build up and “missing milestones” look above) and non-verbal until 1989 saying three words, then from 1990 onwards I regressed and lost skills in verbal language this persisted in me being non-verbal so from pre-school onwards slowly I made monolithic sounds and was saying “loo-loo” (meaning “water”) I was non-verbal from birth 1986 until 1989 then from 1990 until 1992. I then gained functional speech between the ages of 7/8 1993/94 (of a 3 year old developmentally).  – Paul Isaacs’ website 

 

A “Language” Of My Own?

My first three words where included “nan” which I used say in big long streams over and over again I liked the sound of it rather than making the “connection” that the word had and associate relevance with regards to a title of a family member. The words was “f**k” which was used for the same purposes as above however the social emotional aspects for both my parents in terms of embarrassment and parental judgement was high. The next has a level of context it was “loo-loo” which was going to toilets and flushing them – I was addicted to my own chemical highs when looking at the water as it flushed flicking my fingers.

Paul 1995 - 1

Inner Words

Words and sounds swilled around my head but nothing was tangible nor meaningful with anything the additional problems I faced meant that I had problems with processing speech but also at using it at at functional level of understanding or comprehension. Looking back I was trapped in a body that wouldn’t obey my commands my verbal wants or needs at the same time (the conception of “knowingness” wasn’t there in many respects) so not only did I have speech delay but severe language deficits that ran well into late infancy. Living a world before typical meaning was in itself a cage I didn’t have  language in head for many years it was kaleidoscopic, fragmented, ethereal and non-descript. In mid infancy I felt a frustration when words were expressively produced in manner which was clipped, stunted and not correct I remember feeling frustrated and detached. I believe words were within me but they the grip to get them is really beyond words to describe, but my parents always knew that they were within me. Paul Isaacs’ Website

Fast Forward To Now

Although I have gained a level of functional speech and many aspects of my “autism” would be in the residual range in terms of trajectory I still have challenges in these areas

  • Receptive language when people are speaking for larger lengths of time and/or people speaking in the background along with and/or including environmental noise.
  • I “sense” more than I consciously “interpret“.
  • I mentalise through “remembering” through placement, movement, texture and smell etc
  • I learn through being shown rather than being told.
  • Expressive language can become tiring when I begin to “lose words”.
  • Tinted lenses have helped me bring my visual world together but my “visual receptivity” is still in its infancy when it comes to a social-emotional context.
  • I type “feeling speak” far better and introspectively than I can verbally.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Autism, “Stored Responses”, Language, Processing Delay & Unconscious Thought

Language Processing Delay 2017

Note This from a personal perspective 

Conscious and Unconscious Processing 

The problem even though I have progressed in many areas is switching between conscious and unconscious patterns of thinking, this in term has an impact on my ability to keep with incoming information in this case verbal, the ability to think consciously about what how to answer and also gauge the emotional significance of it.

“Stored Responses” & Unknown Knowing

I have come to realise that have rapporteur of “stored verbal responses” which come out at moments when I cannot process information in real-time these can look sometimes stilted, disinterested or “vacant” this is because I have level of social-emotional agnosia due to visual perceptual disorders and receptive/expressive language disorders as a result of aphasia.  This jutting between a conscious response and conscious acknowledgment  when most of my thought process’ that are “connected” in unconscious states means I now looking at ways of trying to marry my thoughts in a more connected manner this comes through typing in which the information I type hasn’t consciously gone in and unconsciously comes out as Donna puts comes as a surprise to the person in question as it may do to the people around them.

“Being” and “Sensing”

Donna Williams explains how the senses of a person with autism work, suggesting that they are ‘stuck’ at an early development stage common to everyone. She calls this the system of sensing, claiming that most people move on to the system of interpretation which enables them to make sense of the world. In doing so, as well as gaining the means of coping with the world, they lose various abilities which people with autism retain.

I can exist in state of being for hours on end that is were my process’s lie I observe without a conscious “knowing” or “interpretation” of what is going on around me as the however on an introspective level it is being so. I connect far more broadly and deeply through touch and texture. I am primarily a kinesthetic thinker/processor.

Being A Silent Observer

I have observed the world “silently” however I wasn’t really “silent” in the literal sense speech was not only delayed but late to be functionally meaningful, words swilled in my mind however grasping them for context and meaning was a struggle to say the least as I grew into later infanthood my verbal speech impinged on my jutting my conscious thought with “sounds” that did not represent the “inner world” I resided in.  I am solitary and idiosyncratic and that has no doubt coloured my perceptions as much as the other part of my “autism fruit salad”.

Paul Isaacs 2017

 


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Autism, Words, Aphasia, Body & Visual Agnosias

Sound Asleep

Note this is from a personal perspective

Aphasia and Words

Words in my mind felt ethereal, transient and distant the internal garbel of sounds, pitches, tones, hums and inflection as if my unconscious mind was trying so desperately to find the words, string the sentences anew to project and receive in “real-time” on some level I believe in my later years that is what I was trying to do. The jumble of a “salad of letters” in my mind could be found and then lost in equal measure.

Oral Apraxia and Word Finding and Formation

The functional element of my speech was delayed in both speech and language the aphasia was both receptive and expressive in nature with a high instance of anomia (word finding). The other element is oral apraxia which rendered me unable to form the words I would find leaving me disconnected and frustrated.

Receptive Aphasia, Body Agnosia & Associated Visual Agnosias

The receptive element of speech for example someone talking to me was the same external garbel as was in my mind a silent war between expresser and receiver trying to find clarity amongst the hidden mist of miscommunication.  The inability to perceive my own body meant a level of internal groundedness was  not their and context was missed time and time again. I relied on the touch, taste, smell, texture these feelings gave me a context to grab onto and create an association it is no surprise to me that my Mum through I was deaf and blind because that is exactly how I was behaving my language processing and sensory perceptual systems (visual agnosias) were so scrambled the credible and most importantly meaningful option was to “feel to think”, “feel to relate”, “feel to connect”, “feel to be”, “feel to extract” and the list goes on.

Creating My Own Language

Before interpretative language sets one could be creating their own language through association, things they have heard and seen on the television, jingles on the radio or other stands of information that bears relevance to an event and/or emotional meaningful response. In my case this was form of communication which looked meaningLESS to the listener but was meaningFUL to me as the expresser.

Memory and Internal Mentalising 

A memory with no associative images for words and no words for images meant my style of learning and integrating was not logical in nature nor literal this is secondary reason why my language and visual-verbal processing was delayed and slower, however as the years progressed I was building up a slow repertoire to words and my functional speech came around 7/8 years old this was expressively and developmentally in terms of content and formation of a 3 year old this new “voice” at times rendered me equally mute and frustrated.

Conclusion

Looking at the broader instance of different aspects that make up language processing difficulties in autism one needs to look at what is making the difficulties piece by piece, how that has an impact on the person and then work on positive and empowering and meaningful interventions.

Paul Isaacs 2017