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Autism from the inside


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Anna Kennedy System of Sensing & Mental Health Workshops Videos Parts 1 & 2

Overview

I presented video workshops on the system of sensing, coined by the late Donna Williams in the presentations I spoke and covered as follows:

  • What is the system of Sensing?
  • What is the system of Interpretation?
  • What is the system of “Ego”?
  • What is the “Real world vs. Hierarchy?” 
  • How the Nervous System Decodes Sensory Information.
  • What is Mergence?
  • Is it a place we all (human beings) come from?

The System of Sensing & Mental Health Workshop Part 1

 

 

The System of Sensing & Mental Health Workshop Part 2

 

Donna Williams Interview about the System of Sensing Autism and Asperger’s Experiences

NANCY BEKHOR:

The term, NONVERBAL seems to have a different meaning in the following two contexts of autism

1) Highly logical individuals, with so called ‘Asperger Syndrome’, who have difficulty with understanding the ‘non verbal’ aspect of conventional speech. This shows up, for example, as missing the ‘joke’ or sarcasm… basically where words themselves do not convey %100 of meaning intended.

2) On the other hand, the ‘non verbal’ realm, which you speak of in your book, Autism and Sensing, is a mode of information communicated by feeling, intuition, sensation… a place of art, ‘knowing without asking or learning’ (as with savants). Here the more typical individual has difficulty understanding.

Are these 2 different meanings or different degrees of non-verbal?

DONNA WILLIAMS:
They are definitely two different experiences entirely.

There is NONVERBAL LANGUAGE DISORDER (disorder in NONVERBAL language systems such as body language, intonation, facial expression) and being FUNCTIONALLY NON VERBAL. Totally different conditions. Though those who have one can also have the other or have only one of these… same as one can have blond hair and be short or one or the other.

Asperger’s & Social Emotional Agnosia 

Now Social Emotional Agnosia seen in Aspergers is a NONVERBAL LANGUAGE DISORDER and means people can’t naturally perceive any meaning to facial expression, body language, intonation unless overtly taught it. This leads them to compensate through logic, intellect and because they generally don’t easily sense this missing realm they develop high intellect rather than high ability to sense pattern, theme, feel.

Autism Sensory Perceptual Disorders & Language Perception Processing

By contrast those with significant sensory or sensory perceptual deficits are not necessarily impaired in the social-emotional realm so it is more natural for them to expand into that realm as a compensation for sensory or sensory perceptual deficits. This is whether because they are blind, deaf, deaf-blind or the perceptual equivalents of meaning deaf (verbal agnosia), meaning blind (visual agnosia) or both.

In other words human beings can be more or less sensing, but if they ALSO have significant sensory or sensory perceptual deficits AND they have no neurological obstacles to sensing (such as Social Emotional Agnosia) then they will be reasonably more likely to become more highly reliant on sensing pattern, theme, feel through whichever sensory perceptual systems are still intact.

So it HAPPENS that there is no sensory perceptual reason for Aspies to be FUNCTIONALLY NONVERBAL in the sense of being speechless. But those who have significant meaning deafness and meaning blindness may have significant struggles to acquire SEMANTICS to speech and will then lack the PRAGMATICS too. Depending on personality and whether they do or don’t additionally have Oral Dyspraxia, Speech Aphasia or Selective Mutism, those with significant meaning deafness/meaning blindness will often be echolalic. Many who have speech and communication disorders (including echolalia) will then be more subject to secondary Selective Mutism. So it HAPPENS that those most likely to become highly sensing as a COMPENSATORY ADAPTATION for significant sensory perceptual disorders will also be those most likely to be functionally non-verbal.

Saying that, SOME will develop fluent type-speaking and some have progressed to functional speech and still remain highly sensing.

Donna Williams 2010

Paul Isaacs 2020


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Autism, Information Processing and Coronavirus

See the source image

Note – This is from a personal perspective 

Alexithymia & Emotional Processing 

Not knowing one’s own emotional states means that I struggle to connect my conscious and unconscious mind, incoming information doesn’t filter into a connected thought, feeling and inner response which is marrying up with my inner states.

Visual Perceptual Disorders, Aphantasia & Mentalising 

Aphantasia is a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery.[1] The phenomenon was first described by Francis Galton in 1880[2] but has since remained largely unstudied. Interest in the phenomenon renewed after the publication of a study in 2015 conducted by a team led by Professor Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter,[3] which also coined the term aphantasia.[4] Research on the condition is still scarce.[5][6]

Visual learning is the most common form of accessing the information around you, I cannot  retrieve visual information and I do not have a “visual mind’s eye” this is called aphantasia. The aspects that I struggle with are visual fragmentation and simultagnosia (object blindness) and a residual level of semantic agnosia (meaning blindness). So watching the news and making visual-verbal connections takes time for me to access and apply meaning with my system which is largely kinesthetic in nature.

Tactile – Associative Synesthesia & Building Frameworks

There are many different types of synesthesia, but they may be categorized as falling into one of two groups: associative synesthesia and projective synesthesia. An associate feels a connection between a stimulus and a sense, while a projector actually sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes a stimulation. For example, an associator might hear a violin and strongly associate it with the color blue, while a projector might hear a violin and see the color blue projected in space as if it were a physical object.

The way in which I build up frameworks is always on an emotive level I am unaware of my feelings from moment to moment, so I have to EXTERNALISE unconsciously in to text which can be creative in content, emotive and introspective and/or art work which can be abstract an metaphorical in representation. I am not a literal, logical processor of information and I do not have social emotional agnosia  that comes from disconnection of right hemisphere. So INTERNALISATION  comes from the marriage creative process as opposed to overtly factual and linear ones.

Aphasia & Language Processing 

Currently I am around 30 percent meaning deaf which means I can take in large amounts of information for a a short period of time, however I may begin to be flooded with a vast a array of language in which my mind cannot keep up with, it becomes distorted and slowly meaningless, so managing my time and input is crucial.

Conclusion

It is best for people to understand their own autism “fruit salad” and what works for them during times of great uncertainty and distress, build up a level of self-awareness or have someone around you that healthily acknowledges your challenges but still retains the autonomy and respect of seeing you as person.

Paul Isaacs 2020

 


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Autism, Alexithymia, Dissociative Disorders & Trauma

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Note – This is from a personal perspective

Overview

In secondary school their was an isolated incident of sexual abuse which I was subjected to, this happened in the changing rooms and I have documented about how I had to get closure on this incident myself.

Alexithymia and dissociative reactions are two strategies that have been put forward as coping mechanisms to alleviate painful emotions. Adult studies reveal an association between alexithymia and dissociation. In line with the coping hypothesis, it was predicted that the relationship between alexithymia and dissociative tendencies would be partly mediated by current levels of stress and past traumatic experiences. Dissociation may also be related to enhanced fantasizing, although alexithymia has traditionally been associated with an incapacity to fantasize

Jennifer G. Schnellmann PhD, ELS 2005

Alexithymia has a common overlap with some people on the autism spectrum, in which the person has problems identifying, wording and extracting inner emotional states, having a language processing disorder no doubt hindered my ability to express (word finding and word losing), visual agnosias of varying kinds and degrees which hindered my to get gestalt perception and mentalise and thus extract the information and process it accordingly.

But imagine that as an autie you get tolerated in a mainstream school of bullying, exclusion etc…. so you try your butt off to pass as ‘non autistic’ or at least mirror others…. but on your own out comes your autie self… and over YEARS the ‘acting normal’ self becomes an ‘alter’ and has its own abilities, its preferences, its dislikes, the things its invested in, the things its disinterested in (like all the ‘autistic’ stuff… because it would attract more bullying, exclusion, etc)….

Donna Williams 2012

Dissociation Disorder & Repressed Memories

Coming to terms with my dissociation is to understand where it came from so here is the a list of events that interacted and caused dissociation and dissociative personas which then in tern effect the association of the “core self” which then in turn had an impact on my psychological and emotional development.

  • I was traumatised by children and teachers using functional speech and language at primary school because I could not keep up with it on an interpretive level (this wasn’t done on purpose nor was this anyone’s fault or intention).
  • I was put into adult situations at primary school with no advocate or caregiver present (teachers arranging meetings about “negative” behaviour prior and after functional speech so dissociation, personas and exposure anxiety were triggered).
  • Having body and pain agnosias meant without clothes on and/or pressure points meant I could detach and dissociate quicker.
  • Having prosopagnosia secondary to simultagnosia meant I bonded with the “person in the mirror” in toilets and washrooms.
  • Secondary school involved the use of three personas all with splintering personality types, learning and communication styles and “tasks” both motivational and/or otherwise to “protect” on a subconscious level the “core self”.
  • Only became self aware of being “different” at 16 and later was using word “autism/autistic” at 18, however lacked a self-awareness of my challenges to others and didn’t consciously change and/or suffer from avoidant and/or social anxiety/phobia.
  • PTSD in adulthood and repressed memories of sexual abuse came in later adulthood through nightmares and flashbacks in a distorted and fragmented fashion due to visual perceptual and language processing disorders.
  • Outlets for Alexithymia and emotional regulation came up more prominently in adulthood through art, poetry and creative writing and aided my ability to mentalise.
  • Being Mercurial and Idiosyncratic meant I could create novel, inventive and “odd” ways of distancing myself from emotional difficulties and pain.
  • Being in the “system of sensing” for far longer and still retaining aspects of it meant I valued the world and would sense the energies around me beyond their set interpretive “meaning”.

Accepting What “Brought me to the Dance”

I have no doubt that I have been coloured by my experiences, they mold people, influence, guide them, help them and sadly sometimes destroy them.

I have come to realise the value in experiences regardless of these being positive or negative I still learn from them.

They’re my teachers my reflectors and I refuse to live a half life in which my destiny is to be defined by things that were out of my control and contextual to the knowledge (or lack of) at the time.

Paul Isaacs 2020


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What if Life Was One Big Metaphor?

Image result for melting pot

Language and the use of it can be varied to the point that if you tried to think about all the language that people process and the variety of differing ways people interpret, receives, express, share, not share, avoid, connect, disconnect etc it is rather big and somewhat scary!

I can rote learn fun lines from advertisements, jingles, songs. Metaphors are some of these funny lines. I can learn metaphors as fun lines just like any other. And I commonly jumble them or use them in the wrong places, boldly certain I’m being linguistically creative and sounding like a total pratt. It is many the time I have looked at a supressed giggle or cringed at the overt ones as I fall over metaphors. I like metaphors, they are funny, but there’s a difference between learning language through rote and grasping, retrieiving and applying it based on interpretive understanding.

But to say Autistic people can’t understand metaphor is also a myth.

I may struggle with metaphors I haven’t had fully explained to me but boy oh boy… my entire life is like a metaphor.

Donna Williams

My late Grandfather was literal, pragmatic and had social emotional agnosia so he had a very linear, direct and conscientious in his way of expression. I have met others who are very much non-linear with their language tumbling, with neologisms, idiosyncratic and poetic . I have meet people who sense rather than interpret and other who interpret rather than sense.

It is in the end a massive melting pot of expression.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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

Sensing vs Interpretation 2918 image

Note this is from a personal perspective.

Overview

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

A Whirlwind

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 age of eight a system of external placement, phonic placement and movement sequences that helped me connect with the outer world around me.

The System of System & Interpretation

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.

Conclusion

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