This workshop is about Autism & Education. Hosted by Venessa Bobb.
Further Information & Reading
Paul Isaacs 2021
Note – This is from a personal perspective
Make Compassionate Comparisons
What I have learnt today is a great lesson in the fact the brain can only take in a certain amount of information at a time, people have a unfortunate tendency to put a hierarchy on trauma, that one is worse, one is this more and other is less.
The truth is that devalues both parties to being just about the subject of comparisons, emotional detachment and spawning a level of guilt that person’s own trauma reactions is not compatible bases on the notion of “being less” therefore an inappropriate expression or reaction.
I have never believed that one’s life experiences should traded for another’s based on how someone should feel, nor do I agree with a person monopolising an experience to their own ends. It devalues both the experiences and realities of the subjects at hand.
Trauma & Rationality
I have recently met all my traumas as realities in their own right, the emotional and sexual abuse at school, the emotional and psychological abuse at placements of employment, the death of my Grandparents and the illnesses that have almost killed my parents. They are experiences but not definitions of my overall character.
I take the learned experience of taking autonomy, objectivity and emotionality of all these events, understood them, internalised them as I was always myself and never sought projection as a game worth playing. I would never change a thing in my life as it has tempered my spirit, served valued lessons and kept me humble.
Detached Surface Responses
Superficiality it is like being presented a cake and realising beyond the icing there is nothing more than air underneath. I refused to play the ritualistic notion of “being a victim” as yet again it is a detachment from self not a synthesis of of the latter. False identity is just if not more taxing than not knowing who you are at all. Self respect is needed.
Self love is not selfishness, nor is empathy about other always putting your needs first, then a person must treat into the middle in which care for others and yourself should be of equal beauty.
Autism, Personhood & Identity
With regards to my autism, I personally have never seen it as all of “me”, it is not omnipresent and nor would it make sense for it to be so. I say this not out of shame but out of balance.
So many other aspects of my life being woven into the interlinking quilt of personhood that makes “Paul” let’s at least see people being defined by more than one word.
Paul Isaacs 2020
I presented video workshops on the system of sensing, coined by the late Donna Williams in the presentations I spoke and covered as follows:
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
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?
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
Please see info on this weeks guest. Paul is speaking again at 1pm today (06/03/2019)
My guest this week for Women’s Radio Station was one of our Charity Ambassadors Paul Isaacs. Paul is an autistic trainer, speaker, consultant and blogger. He has co-authored several books including Life through a Kaleidoscope and Living through the Haze.Paul has released and published 5 books on the subject of autism published by Chipmunka publishing and has contributed to other books too. Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society.
Paul shares :
Yesterday I spoke to Anna Kennedy at the Women’s Radio show in London the first question she asked was the road to being diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In 2007 I was sent to the local mental health team in which I was misdiagnosed with “Aspergers traits with a complex personality” I found out later looking through my medical records during this period that I was diagnosed with schizotypal and borderline personality disorders I was also suffering at this point in time from psychosis and auditory hallucinations.
In 2010 I was diagnosed formally with autism and OCD by a psychiatrist the key to this process was the caring and connecting nature in which he allowed our myself and my parents to talk about the difficult and challenging aspects of my past which included current difficulties with professionalism and humility.
Anna went on to talk about what the educational system was like for me I was born in 1986 and went through mainstream education to which many problems arose it was more to do with the the frame of reference the teachers had rather than them doing me deliberate harm. Everything was distorted, fragmented both visually and from a language perspective. People making phonic noises at one another, shapeless form less people, near and far, here nor there. I was hyperactive and didn’t seem to the connect with the world around me. If I had been diagnosed at this point it would have been of classic autism due to higher levels of visual-verbal processing challenges, language processing disorder and expressive communication challenges.
I found solace in water to which I was fascinated by and flushing toilets looking at the flow of water in amazement getting lost in it, becoming it and not wanting on a subconscious level to let go it was a friend of sorts always there when I needed him.
Anna followed on by asking me about how my parents coped what they done to help me despite not having a formal diagnosis at this time. Headteachers at primary school had noted behaviourally issues, being shy and difficulties with handwriting and using a pen. My parents all through primary and secondary school did not find solutions from these meetings because it was always “Paul cannot” with no alternative being put in its place.
So my parents treated me as a child a little adult, they allowed me to experience the world around me not making part of it small but going out cycling, walking, swimming, going out restaurants and holidays. They instilled that in me that I was apart of the world not centre of it, that failure is a normal part of life and that in the end can be the best version of yourself.
Anna asked about what I do in my free time I like to create mostly through the mediums of poetry, creating writing and art these things I find very relaxing and connect with my on a emotive level it grounds my thoughts, feelings and expands my experiences with other people also. I like meeting up with friends which I do twice monthly at a local restaurant I value all their friendships deeply. I have also made friendships up north with The Kings Sharon and her family have been great to be around with as well as a friend in London who shares many creative vibes with.
Anna asked about my tinted lenses and what the function of them are. They help me bring coherence to the world around me binding it together without them everything becomes shattered and all the pieces do not come together. seventy percent of information is visual so if you think about how much one takes in through that one sense and if in my case the inability to perceive faces, objects, places etc the are a great aid for me to not only walk around the visual world but be able to hand the incoming information and store it in a more calmy fashion.
Anna finally talked about the “autism fruit salad” I explained to her about the late Donna Williams a lady on the autism spectrum who will be greatly missed because she touched so many people’s lives in profound and brilliant ways. Donna was a trailblazer and in many ways ahead of her time while other people are being militant about what autism “is” and “isn’t” the fruit salad explains that autism is a patchwork quilt of differing factors such as information processing, identity and personality, mental health, learning styles and environmental factors. “Autism” in affect doesn’t have a “look” with regards the “Asperger’s syndrome” removal in the DSM 5 I feel that did they understand the mechanics of the condition?
Donna wrote a brilliant blog about the differences between “Aspie and Autie Fruit Salads” which means from her observations as a consultant it seems that people with a diagnosis of AS seem to be literal, logical and process internally while people with Autism are less literal, less logical and processing things externally and then of course what about the “Aspinauts” people who are dipping into both worlds? I like Donna’s ability to always think about side of the box she was so kind and giving.
The future for autism I feel is to ditch the stereotypes, politics, rhetoric and nonsense the burns more bridges than it builds, let’s start by looking at autism realities for all, striking up healthy and balanced dialogues, lets learn from people different experiences and be humble with it.
If you would like to book Paul as speaker, trainer and/or consultant please contact him via email at
Paul Isaacs Freelance Autistic Speaker, Trainer, Consultant & Author
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.
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
Be yourself, don’t define yourself by your autism” – A self-assured life of an inspirational speaker, trainer and author on the autism spectrum – Paul Isaacs
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” – Eckhart Tolle. Paul was diagnosed with high functioning Autism at the age of 24. He has set himself apart by embarking on a noble mission of spreading awareness of Autism to enable the masses to help people with Autism live fulfilling lives. Paul has written several books about Autism including “Autism: Inside Perceptions of Communication, Interaction, Thoughts & Feelings” and “Living Through the Haze Autobiographical account of my life with Autism” which was a #1 bestseller. Paul has also been active delivering speeches to a variety of audiences such as parents, people on the Autism spectrum, social workers and at events for Autism charities and organizations like The National Autistic Society.
Thank you Paul for your time. Your interview will inspire all our community. The interview with Paul Isaacs was conducted by Inspiration Matters () in May 2018. More Info
P: I would say that aspect of autism being a “fruit salad” by Donna Williams (Polly Samuel) which breaks autism down into “pieces” she was objective, compassionate, real and honest in her words, findings and outlook on autism and so I carry on her model which is about education, mythbusting and not being swayed by the politics and rhetoric which is found in the autism world.
P: I was diagnosed with autism in 2010 at the age of twenty-four I was born in 1986 and went though mainstream education. My Mum thought I was deaf and blind as appeared not to “see” or “hear” however this was to do with visual perceptual disorders and being profoundly meaning deaf. I didn’t gain functional speech between the ages of 7/8 years old.
So that was a slice of my early developmental history when I wrote my first book I thought of the title and just typed in a pre-conscious state this meant that my hands on “auto-pilot” in other words I typed finished the manuscript then read it back and learned about my life. I do find writing a challenge I feel I show more of my connected self through writing than in any other medium which I would say art is a close second.
P: I would say being bullied was an important milestone to come out of. In many ways I send thanks to the people who bullied me over the years as they gave me a framework of how not to treat other people. I see my self not as victim but as a victim of circumstance which is completely different I take a lot of positives from these experiences and try and mould them into something objective, bitterness is a horrible thing to hold onto and as human beings have varying lifespans I do not want to was my life living in the past.
P: From the age of 5 I was tampering with colours smearing them on to pages. I would say my favourite artwork was done during the passing my Gramp in 2017 it really helped me to come to terms with his passing and also the art was a way of remembrance and saying goodbye to his physical form and keeping memories of him alive.
P: I have made reference to the late Polly’s “Fruit Salad” and I would say using her framework would not only help people with autism but also other development disabilities, learning difficulties, mental health issues, development of identity, personality, environment and or learning styles. What ever the package mare be “autism” or not it would certainly look at the students as rounded human beings.
Of course many progressions have been made however the educational system in general is rather generic and stale in terms of how information is present to students so maybe there needs to be a massive shift in the educational system as whole.
P: Being listened to as a human being, their worries, concerns for the future as a term of resolve although that is a big question to ask I would say it will always boil down to the people you meet and the environment you are in. So being non-judgemental would be a start and opening up an honest dialogue.
P: The late Polly Samuels she was a great inspiration to my autism work, speeches, training and overall philosophy, she was an empath, a natural comedienne and always made you think “what if” she challenged the “status quo” in so many areas in her life. I enjoyed our skype chats she made me laugh and I think that is special if people can do that.
P: I really like Oxford and the buildings, restaurants and gardens it has is such a beautiful setting I like the colours, the textures, the smells it is so familiar yet so new at the same time.
P: Be yourself, don’t define yourself by your “autism” you are more than that, do not get into the negative politics of militants in the autism world I have seen the damage that can do to people, your story and life is of equal value regardless.
P: Walk on your own path, tread in its peaks and troughs, ride its waves fierce and quite, invite people to join you share their journey’s treaded also.
Paul Isaacs 2018
Dr. John M. Oldham has defined the Solitary personality style. The following six characteristic traits and behaviors are listed in his The New Personality Self-Portrait.
“Autism” Is Not A Personality Type
People often think that “autism” has a “look” it doesn’t and never has when people think of autism they may think and/or mentalise certain people they have come across, members of the family, people in movies and/or films etc.
Solitary By What Factors?
Being solitary can fall into differing camps some people can be solitary by circumstances that are out of their control such as the loss of parents and/or guardians, having a small family and other circumstances others may have the complete opposite but their values and environmental factor and/or influences. Some can be both.
I fall into the the category of of circumstance/ environment genetic my family is small, I have sister who I have only met three times when I was in my late teens, I still have my parents and my Nan on my mother’s side. I have never had a partner and would consider myself asexual.
I Value Life
What has this given me time to do? I say that because people are probably going to focus on the the things I have missed or not been apart of? I understand why such comment or feelings would be made. I do not feel I have missed out on anything nor do I feel I have been given a ticket that has not taken me to all the places in the amusement park.
Observing, Friendships & Interests
I love life and being observer of people, the goings on, their life stories and so forth I feel connected to them. I have friends that are real friends because they are people who connect with rather than people that I feel I should be connecting with (there is a massive difference). I like going for long walks on my own, drawing, creating poetry/creative writings, watching movies and listening to music. I like sharing these things as well as “being”. This of course is peppered by being Idiosyncratic, Mercurial & Self Sacrificing.
I feel this have made me as I have matured more objective before you go out into the “world” you have be your own best friend first regardless of your wants and needs in life.
Paul Isaacs 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.
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:
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
I have never really written about what my job entails – its ethos, perspective and outlook on my page so I think its important to do so. I got a lot of my perspective from being diagnosed in 2010 with autism at the age of 24.
I didn’t know what autism was let alone what it meant for me, so when I came out of the practitioners room, went down the hallway and outside into the fresh afternoon air, my parents were both present and my Mum said you are still “Paul”. This would be one on of many linchpins that built up my perspective.
Connecting With Donna
A year previously I went to see the late Donna Williams at a venue in Oxfordshire and she gave a dynamic speech on autism containing information which up to that point I had never heard of and a year later we connected on Facebook.
It started off from there asking questions about differing elements, pieces and sage advice mixed with wit, humour and her drive to always see people regardless of what label is put upon them as people.
I want to share her knowledge, wisdom and perspective of autism to larger audiences – not only to get to the know the person behind the creation of the autism “fruit salad” but to carry on her work to EMPOWER people.
My ethos is looking at autism as autisms as an adjective, an experience, a describer not a definer, I look at autisms as a clustering of differing conditions and syndromes based in neurology and biology.
Her Legecy & Kindness
I look at mental health issues such as mood, anxiety and compulsive disorders, I look at personality types and their disordered extremes, I look at identity in gender and sexuality, I look at the psycho-social environment and their impact rightly or wrongly and I look at learning styles.
In other words the ethos is based in looking at the “word autism” and taking a three dimensional approach rather than stereotypes, understanding the “labels” and not defining the person by them. We are in the end all born people.
Without Donna’s help I would not be here doing this so my eternal thank you will be to carry on her work and have a broader more collective view of what the word “autism” is.
Paul Isaacs 2018
Note – this is from a personal perspective
I was speaking with two friends this evening and the subject of school-life came up it was an interesting exercise in subjectivity, objectivity and personal experiences shaping people’s lives but not defining them as we all move on.
My friend respectfully and realistically pointed out the fact that when students are at school (regardless of disability or otherwise) they are on their own unique journeys and difficulties can arise from all sorts of areas which have an impact of self-esteem, confidence and the ability to thrive on a functional level.
Enviroment vs. Social-Emotional Development
I was diagnosed late after my mainstream education had finished the best foundation for “social” I was given was through my tenure in education. It gave me the ability to cope with stressful situations, integrate and overall gave me the invaluable skills of living a “human life” rather than a “autistic life”. I was around people and my disability was not being flag waved to the point where I lost myself and was only defined by one single factor.
Is Bullying/Psychopathy Normal in Educational Settings?
I was surrounded by people who used interpretive speech. I still find this mode of speaking difficult and it is something I have aqquired a long the way in the context of school yes that was true. I cannot deny the verbal and at times physical abuse I encountered at school by other students on a daily basis as ‘normal‘ as their conscious psychothapy and narcissism was allowed run free regardless of the emotional damage that ensued.
Yes it is subjective and many of the students that bullied were emotionally insucure however being so doesn’t give you a free ticket to do it to others, however they did. I see this as a learning curve and lessons in life and I am thankful to learn from the shit and make sculptures out of it. 🙂
They may have changed which is great, found families, bared children etc I wish them well on their journeys.
We (as people) are all on our journeys and bullying and victimisation was part of my experience however many others have been in the similar situations and I refuse to define my present situation by the past experiences. I am indifferent and objective about my past it happened and I am done with the “what could have beens” and “what ifs” I am thankful for my overall experience I would not have had it any other way.
I consider my reality no better or worse than any others, I don’t consider myself “special”, “better” and/or “superior” to anyone else. Affirmation has to be contextual and real not dished out like candy with hollow self-praise. There are too many people in the western world who just want their cake and to eat it all if only it was to shared out a bit more so other people’s realities could be shared and equally acknowledged with the sub-test of mine is better/worse than yours.
Tides of Glory
I strayed and came about
Eager to scream and longing to shout
I have travelled a life which has been painted
I refuse to see my deepest memories as tainted
Come up and down and my thoughts fleeting around
I pick my body and ground my mind with the comfort of sound
A cloud full memories embraced and feetful of walking to be chased
A human being am I no better nor worse living a madless time at even pace
Paul Isaacs 2017