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Inspiration Matters – Interview May 2018

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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

  • : You have presented speeches on various subjects related to Autism. What has been the most popular subject for your speeches and how are these speeches helping you with spreading awareness?

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.

  • : How and when did you decide to start writing a book? Which of your book assignments was most challenging and why?

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.

  • : What has been the most important milestone in your life. What is the impact of this on your life?

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.

  • : What is your favorite art creation and why? What is the importance of art in your life?

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.

  • : What kind of changes are needed to our current education system for children with special needs? Do you see any difference in today’s school system compared to when you were a student?

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.

  • : What is the biggest concern for parents of children with autism? How do you think their concern can be resolved?

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.

  • : Who is your inspiration?

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.

  • : What is your favorite place to visit? What do you like about that place?

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.

  • : What tips/advice do you have for those in our community who want to spread awareness?

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.

  • : Any special message for our community?

P: Walk on your on 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

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Autism & Personality Types – They Do Exist

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Personality Types & Autism 

When we look at “autism” looking at personality types is just as important as any other factors. We could look at these aspects of a human being they are very much the “soul” of the person they pepper one’s temperament, personal outlook, emotional regulation, friendships, relationships and aspects of social and emotional interaction.

Identity Crisis

For people who are on the autism spectrum not all their “being” is dictated by the diagnosis that they have. This of course will vary from person to person depending on what part of their “fruit salad” are impacting and how they view their personhood within that. Is it hidden by language processing disorder? Is it being tempered and challenged by health issues? Or are there underlying mental health issues that are being called “the autism” when they are not?

Autism Isn’t a “Collective” 

Some people see their autism as “ego-syntonic” that is all their person and they feel it all of the time, others like myself see their autism as part of their “being” this means that other factors come into it such as environmental factors, mental health, identity and learning style all human being are made of up these things . For me it seems to over simplified and reductive to suggest that people on the spectrum share common goals, values and outlooks as a collective experience.

The “Sameness” Machine

“We” do not all come from the same place, we do not have a carbon copy autism “fruit salad” that is  shared from person to person. That means that one should be seen as an individual not just a sausage machine of traits. People are born with no labels what so ever and no one person is defined by “one word”.

Paul Isaacs 2018

 

 


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Is Stereotyping & Glamorising Autism A Dangerous Path to Tread? Balance Is The Way Forward

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I think of Polly a lot and as it is coming near to a year since she has passed and autism awareness month. I think of the valuable and human lessons she taught me and other advocates who keenly listened and understood not only her perspective on the matter but her overall out look and ethos.

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Autistic Person? Or Person With Autism?

I think when I was born and all that was around me that I wasn’t fully aware of yet, the people, trees, the buildings, the modern world, the natural world. I think of cladding and chosen identities and when comes to defining a person by one aspect of themselves. I often wonder and worry about what that means. If we see everything as the “autism” from the moment one gets up to the moment one goes to bed what is left?

Cannot we see the other aspects the mould a person such as the environment they live in? The personality types they have? The mental health conditions? Their sense of identity? (other than being “autistic”) And their learning styles?

If we are addressing “autism” surely we should be looking at the bigger picture rather than tired and easily digested rhetoric such as “all autistic’s are logical, literal thinkers” or “all autistic’s have special interests” not taking into account the broader perspective on neurological and biological aspects, the social emotional aspects and very specific wants and needs of that person themselves and/or their families and loved ones.

An “Autistic Mind”? Or a “Human Mind? 

Last time I checked there is no such thing as a mind cannot have be clear cut as “autistic” and “non-autistic” many aspects to do with information processing can have an impact on presentation. Such as a person with social-emotional agnosia not being able to read body language, facial expression and/or tone of voice, aphasia and being able to express and/or retrieve words and apraxia with living in a body that doesn’t obey its commands of the “owner”.

Personality types in human beings regardless of autism effect the presentation of the person such as being solitary and a preference for being alone, idiosyncratic and not confirming to the cultural and social expectations and conscientious and wanting logic, linear thought and perfection to name but a few.

Balance

If we ditch the rhetoric, the cash-cows, the money makers, the politics and get to what is “real” then that is the greatest and most honest foundation of them all. True empowerment is knowing what something is and working from there not making things up to suit the make-shift package you want to “sell” to people.  I think there is nothing wrong with showing the example of just “getting on with one’s life” as the greatest one.

I am not famous, “special” or “unique” words like that scare me. It puts me on some invisible pedestal that quite rightly I don’t deserve nor want to be on. 😉

Paul Isaacs 2018


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The Cognitive Aspects of Autism

Note This Is From a Personal Perspective

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I used to think I was stupid and there are many things which are a struggle. It’s hard for me to tell a garlic crusher from a can opener. I sometimes can’t visually recognise my own husband. I lose the meaning of things I’m not physically using so cooking and running water can be a problem. There is often no left or right in my world and up and down sometimes tumble too. I use objects to track my thought externally or have to type it out to experience it after it hits the screen. I often can’t tell if I like something, whether I’m hungry or whether I had a good day. But I can do so many things that people really struggle to understand how extremely uneven abilities can occur in the one person. But in fact, that is the cognitive definition of autism.

Donna Williams 2009

Cognition vs. Expression

I don’t know on a conscious level what I am always doing, thinking or feeling which means in responses that on the surface seem very “limited” or “surface” an action creates a response but not always a “connected” one.

I can however type long reams of introspective and emotional material on a unconscious level which seems paradoxically detached from what I can say verbally at times. My inner world is far more richer than at times what I can get out verbally. This lends to personality types which are more attunded to empathy I show this through art and poetry.

“Sensing” vs. Intellectual Procesing

I can see that this is to do with the residual aspects of being meaing deaf, context and meaning blind, information processing delays and langauge processing issues. I have found over the years “pathways” of extraction such as art and poetic writings. I “be” and the puzzle seems to all come together with an “unknown knonwingness” that I cannot do when I am in a more concious state as contrdicatry as it sounds one gets less out of me.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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I Don’t Mind Being Solitary – Looking Beyond The Stereotypes

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Main Interests of the Solitary Personality Type

  1. finding solitude; being alone
  2. remaining independent; maintaining autonomy; being self-contained
  3. being dispassionate
  4. being indifferent to pleasure and pain
  5. remaining sexually composed; avoiding attachment to anyone
  6. being uninfluenced by praise or criticism

 

Characteristic Traits and Behaviors

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.

  1. Solitude. Individuals with the Solitary personality style have small need of companionship and are most comfortable alone.
  2. Independence. They are self-contained and do not require interaction with others in order to enjoy their experiences or to get on in life.
  3. Sangfroid. Solitary men and women are even-tempered, calm, dispassionate, unsentimental, and unflappable.
  4. Stoicism. They display an apparent indifference to pain and pleasure.
  5. Sexual composure. They are not driven by sexual needs. They enjoy sex but will not suffer in its absence.
  6. Feet on the ground. They are unswayed by either praise or criticism and can confidently come to terms with their own behavior.

“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.

Conclusion

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


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The Joy Of Happiness

 

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Happiness is the value not of the behind nor forward but of those little things between that move in a constant.

Cherished things are found there which no worldly goods to buy, they have no thought, no intellectualism and sometimes no words but the feeling is very much at the forefront. A likeable wistful motion that is captured in the roaming snapshot of time.

A valued place that can have a thousand wordless words, a million bountiful experiences. Is wrong to like the shimmer on a rain dropped petal? A sparkle in the water, a popping colour amongst  muteness and a cheery sounding bird calling out to its friends.

Maybe if human beings talked more the moment we wouldn’t be drenched the atrocities of the past and uncertainties of the future. I loving world is not much to ask and it’s above all free.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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What Is “Life”?

Peering through life I often wonder about it “what is it all about?” this may seem like a hopeless and uncomfortable question to ponder. We are not here for eternity, however memories and echoes of the past wonder and echo around us.

Things happen that change our perspective on life as an ongoing experience. People go on seemingly timeless changes in identity, health (mental or otherwise), perceptions, directions, fortunes (philosophical or otherwise too) maybe that is it in that is changeable, not tiresome, fluid, not stagnant, fruitful and not grey.

Balance is such a currency that one cannot buy but learn either through example or trial and error and that has been the most valuable to me.

Paul Isaacs 2018