Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

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Autism, Faceblindness & Social Media



Note this is from a personal perspective

I got a good question from a Dean Beadle a international speaker on the autism spectrum with regards to faceblindness and the use of social media.


The way in which I recognise people I have documented in various other blogs with regards to “seeing” faces or rather not and that is through patterns of movement (the way in which the person moves their body around the enviroment) and the person’s voices. Context helps through understanding (their full full name, significance of were I know them from).#



When it comes to social media it is best for people to message to help me remember where they came from. I do look for full names (that is a good start) and other contextual and associative information, although at times I have gotten it wrong in terms of sending the friend request to the wrong person it is a matter of trial and error for me. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2016



Autism, Mirroring and The “Sense Of Self”

Note- This is from a personal perspective

The mirror stage (French: stade du miroir) is a concept in the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan. The mirror stage is based on the belief that infants recognize themselves in a mirror (literal) or other symbolic contraption which induces apperception (the turning of oneself into an object that can be viewed by the child from outside themselves) from the age of about six months

The mirror stage is a phenomenon to which I assign a twofold value. In the first place, it has historical value as it marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body image. (Lacan, Some reflections on the Ego, 1953)


Mirroring and “Sense Of Self”

What is it? Did I even understand that it was me? Or have conscious understanding of what my body was in space and time? In the context of other objects and people?

Going through a pattern where my movements dictated the tone and the very nature of what I was doing in that moment – living in the moment going from one patterned place to another.
My Body, Movements & My Perceptual World

My body and face “alien” in its projection (and it’s projection back to me) movements from other didn’t connect that I had a body but when I was at pre-school my hyper-active movements around the little hut gave me a “sense of being” to some degree.

Before I sat down again sounds, jingles, colours, shapes and shine where the domineering force in a sense they were friends they gave me (at least in my world) a sense of connectivity and stimulation.
Friendships, Language & “Connecting

My first “friends” where water and toilets – this was a sense of connecting with the outside but also a feeling it gave me on the inside. I was aware of the love that my parents had for me that didn’t need to be extracted (it was a feeling of sensing) and that was a firm and positive basis of connectivity I had with others. So what helped?

  • Rough and tumble play with my Dad (helping me connect my own body and also perceive parts of my own and “recognise” my Dad by his facial features)
  • My allowing me to touch her hair (to “recognise” her)
  • Experience the world through touch – allowing me to touch, take my shoes and socks off in the back garden etc
  • Clipped telegraphic language

Mercurial Personality

  1. Romantic attachment. Mercurial individuals must always be deeply involved in a romantic relationship with one person.
  2. Intensity. They experience a passionate, focused attachment in all their relationships. Nothing that goes on between them and other people is trivial, nothing taken lightly.
  3. Heart. They show what they feel. They are emotionally active and reactive. Mercurial types put their hearts into everything.
  4. Unconstraint. They are uninhibited, spontaneous, fun-loving, and undaunted by risk.
  5. Activity. Energy marks the Mercurial style. These individuals are lively, creative, busy, and engaging. They show initiative and can stir others to activity.
  6. Open mind. They are imaginative and curious, willing to experience and experiment with other cultures, roles, and value systems and to follow new paths.
  7. Alternate states. People with Mercurial style are skilled at distancing or distracting themselves from reality when it is painful or harsh.

Source: Oldham, John M., and Lois B. Morris. The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam, 1995.

How this “Personality Type” relates to me

Despite a lot of information processing and language issues with my autism profile. I try to live life as a free spirit and appreciate others values and beliefs, sensitive to others realities and conscious of their thoughts and feelings and I like to help others to – this sound “odd” because what I have written above this but this is part of my personhood that was growing within me. I still have many of the developmental and processing issues stated management of both these aspects is key and of course very person-centred.

Negative Disordered Traits & Management of Them – Borderline Personality Disorder

In 2007 I had a nervous breakdown and BDP is the “extreme” and “disordered” variant of the mercurial personality

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

How I manage this

Conceptualization of the subject – what is fact and what is assumption? What is real and what isn’t? What is my “gut” telling me? Being comfortable in your own skin is worthy and functional goal to achieve.

A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

How I manage this

Everybody is a human being and things happen in their lives as well as yours and over intensity (which in my case I wasn’t conscious of doing this) will not be liked, feel “too much” or “overwhelming for the other person”. No person is “black” or “white” in perception it is far more diverse for that.

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;

How I manage this

The journey of what is is self? How this describes me? Understanding that I am a person has always helped me with this aspect (even if I struggle with a senses of self) knowing I am a human being is a good start.

Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

How I manage this

Why am I spending and over-eating? What is the core of the problem? Has something happened in my life? Is it a reaction to something in the past? Or does it have no root cause?

Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

How I manage this

What has caused me to feel this way? What situation? (and/or situations?)

Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

How I manage this

Going with the flow this will end and dissolve, finding productive things to do with my time and don’t get “stuck” in this loop of anxiety.

Chronic feelings of emptiness

How I manage this

The feeling of lonesomeness is perceptual and could be to do with a lack of connectivity, lack of doing and being and also a need to be getting on with things in your life.

Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

How I manage this

Don’t hold on to negative feeling like hate, anger, sadness they are a normal part of human life and one can move on from them with the right balance.

Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

How I manage this

Dissociation is on a spectrum, why has this happened? what are the root causes? How can you move on and manage this in the context of “now” and for the “future”?

Now In The Context Of My Autism (Processing Information)


Emotions can be overwhelming and and “under” processing of emotions in time can cause a “plug” or “blockage” meaning a situation can happen for me which may require (in-real time) a emotional response but doesn’t happen because I am not “there yet”.

It has taken me days, months or years to process an singular or multiple event this emotional wave of raw emotions felt like an attack which lead to self harm (hitting my legs, arms and head) what has helped me is understanding that when this wave hits I can cope be staying calm.

Visual Agnosias (Visual Perceptual Disorders)

Not “seeing” with meaning meant there was no context to what was going on it was blobs, fragments, bits and pieces self and other where “alien” because there was “real” basis for it happening because I couldn’t home in what was what – what helped was my parents allowing me to explore my sensory world in way that gave it some sort of reality. Tinted lenses have greatly helped me in accessing visual information.

Meaning Deafness (Aphasia)

Strands of information that are too fast, long go into nothingness – I have no visual memory and cannot internalise words with a “visual picture” so elevated tone and gestures to create a context that my mind is able to process with a high sense of clarity and meaning. Movement is very important to me.

Body Disconnection (Visual-Spatial Dysgnosia)

My body is a “thing” that is around me it feels disjointed, awkward and clumsy so I have worked out ways of making it feel more real – I have pressure points so band and bracelets around my wrists, a tight jacket around the trunk of my body, a tie around my neck, and tight shoes for my fee. This gives me at least 4 points/areas of awareness and there can be more with my tinted glasses, headphones and tying my hair back.

Context From two angles – Personality & The “Pieces” of My Autism

Healthy management of my personality to keep the volume “normal” and accessing the pieces of my autism that need addressing has helped with being a more happy and content person.

Friendships & Boundaries

For many years this lack of management, processing confusion, context blindness and personality issues have created issues but recently through being introduced to more positive, productive friendships which are balanced, ordered and healthy this has given me a fresh new perspective of what “other” is.

  • Boundaries That Are Healthy – considering and empathising is a two way process
  • When Problems Happen – take a step back, being there comes in many different forms
  • Sensing “Good” Vibes – your gut is important and is telling you a lot without any words at times

Self and Other – Pattern, Theme & Feel (D.Williams)

I live in world were logical and cognitive reasoning is not king (I have an autie way of processing not an aspie) it is through sensory based reasoning, feeling, experiencing through touch, movement, sound etc. This is the world I still live in and by relying on my system of sensing it has helped me understand things before I could/can verbalise them. I will hopefully create little bridges of connectivity for the future. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2014

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My Primary Language & Finding Balance With The Help Of My Parents

Wedding Photos 1986.jpg


I’m thankful and grateful that my parents helped a guided me to be as functional as possible, not disabling further with martyrdom and co-dependency, teaching me right from wrong, understanding failure is normal, letting me experience the world and make progress and mistakes, encouraging happiness and balance and not seeing my a Autism as the sum total of my being.

I’m a person, artist, poet and author but like my parents also taught I am no better than anyone else.

My “Language” & Perceptual “World” & Gaining Functional Language

Considering my primary speech/language was movements, sounds and echolalia and my internal language a jumble of noise and sounds (but words were trapped inside which I wanted to alternately share and keep hidden), with no pictures and other people were fragmented blobs that made soundscapes to one another.

I was functionally non -verbal for 5 years and when I gained functional speech at 7/8 years old the words inside came out scattered and wanted to go back due to (exposure anxiety and selective mutism) but I kept moving forward.

My primary language is in the past tense and at home I at times residually revert back to that language that I hold so dear and you may not get much interpretive language out of me.

I wish no pity of sorrow this is my own journey.

Interpretive & Language & Pattern, Theme & Feel Language (D.Williams)

Interpretive language is a second language to me which is English my primary language is movements, sounds, echolalia, licking, sniffing and tapping my surroundings, sounds and movements conveyed emotions, feelings and direction, sculpting faces, sniffing hair, flashing lights, things that spin, pretty textures, glowy things, sparkle, shine etc.

At home my language would be hard for others to fathom.


I’m thankful that my parents have helped me in this way it is good to have and find balance in your life for a whole host of reasons such as empowerment is one of key things that has helped me by not going down the road of victimhood and also having a healthy acknowledgment of your actions on others.

Paul Isaacs 2014

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Having Classic Autism, Speech, Language & Moving My Arms Like Donna Williams

Paul Baby Picture 1988

Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett were presenting at an Autism Oxford Event (a 2 day conference) – My Presentation was My Journey to an Autism Diagnosis.
This my personal perspective of Autism and how it affects me.

“Classic ” Autism , Visual , Auditory Perceptual Disorders And Language

I have Classic autism (as opposed to AS) – I look at people from with AS afar in admiration for the qualities they bring to the world – Like Donna Williams.

I live in a world where Visual agnosias & Auditory agnosias make sounds fun, scary and images fragmented and artistic but at times confusing living in a world BEFORE interpretive meaning albiet residual.

I treat my current expressive language I use now as my foreign/2nd language which I have learnt to use due to various blockages. (because Apraxia of speech, Speech delay,Language delay, Visual Perceptual Disorders & Aphasia).

Connecting With The World
Hands are my tools for “seeing”, licking, sniffing, tapping, rubbing – I asked the audience to think internally and visualise a table I can’t because of semantic agnosia I must “feel” and “experience” a table to externally mentalise and give it purpose, meaning and context.
Gestural Language And No Visual Memory

Communicating and connecting before expressive functional speech was sounds, clicks, movements to convey communication (later echolalia) to the outer world. Tony commented on how I move my arms like Donna’s that is because like her I paint a picture/movie/communication through my arms and hands moulding as I talk images in real time which helps me get my words out to externally express what is trying to come out internally

Tony commented on how I move my arms like Donna’s that is because like her I paint a picture/movie/communication through my arms and hands moulding as I talk images in real time which helps me get my words out to externally express what is trying to come out internally.

Paul Isaacs 2014

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Speech/Language Delay, Visual/Auditory Processing & Body Disconnection in Autism

Paul Year 1

Note this is my own personal experiences of Autism


I was non-verbal for 5 years or more (I had a lot of words in my head) I had speech and language delay Aphasia,Apraxia of speechAuditory verbal agnosia) – (expressive and receptive) my Mum thought I was deaf and blind (this was due to Visual agnosias and Auditory agnosias), I used movements, clicks, sounds to convey information to others (I still use this when happy, excited and/or distressed) I consider this my “primary language” and interpretive language a second language I learned), pre-verbal than functional expressive speech at around 7/8 years old (1993/1994) that was of a 3 year old expressively. 


I didn’t understand that conversations were between two people for a very long time used to look at two fragmented blobs making sounds at each other at pre-school and found it rather amusing but didn’t connect that it was an interaction.  I used to make noises/whispers at other children I sat next to in the playground with (that was my form of a conversation) some time also.


I was already putting my arm behind my back that was to do with trying to connect my body with myself (body disconnection), probably liking the feeling of the fur and not quite understanding contextually where I was.

Paul Isaacs 2014

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Challenging the Stereotypes of Autism, IQ and Learning – A World of Pattern, Theme and Feel (D.Williams)

Paul Long Hair 2013OVERVIEW
Note – This is a personal perspective of learning and my Autism Profile 
Donna Williams and I share (but have differences in expression and trajectory) a similar Autism Profile.
I can talk about Autism a lot (probably too much at times :-D), have problems with learning new skills and retaining the patterns (shaving, washing, getting dressed etc).

I “lose” objects if they are misplaced or put in place that is “foreign to me” (simultagnosia, semantic agnosia), I only know what something is if I have “touched it” (i.e table surface, legs etc) (semantic agnosia) I have a blindness to the right side of body (visuospatial dysgnosiamirror agnosia & hemispatial neglect), I don’t have intellectual interests and can’t have those sorts of conversations with folks very well (technology, engineering etc) but I can write (a lot), draw and paint.

When I’m happy I make patterned “sounds” (that sounds like gobble de gook to others) to express my enjoyment and I do this a lot at home sometimes bits of route echolalia comes out from old TV shows. (Power Rangers)

I like shiny things, stuff that sparkles, twinkle lights etc, I “sense” peoples intentions and like Donna I live in a pattern, theme and feel world.

I like to have a laugh and for every deficit there is an ability and that my personhood comes first – the cards of which I have been dealt I’m going to use effectively and productively.


Paul Isaacs  2014

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All Communication Is Valid – None Are Inferior


All people on the spectrum have a valid and functional ways of communicating and that is equally diverse in both receptive and expressive language – I find that I write more emotively than I verbally express and when I was a child who didn’t speak with my mouth for  5 years I HAD many words within me. 🙂



  1. Aphasia
  2. Verbal Auditory Agnosia
  3. Oral Apraxia 
  4. Mutism (once functional speech was gained)


The way in which I connected with people was through “sounds”, “movements” and “noises” which were functionally right for me it was my own language before interpretive language, I STILL live in this world and treat interpretive language as acquired but not my “native” language.


There are  amazing folks on the spectrum such as Carly Fleischmann, Sydney Edmond, Peyton Goddard who are showing their inner voices in beautiful and emotive ways that help us understand the different lives of people on the spectrum and also the shared personhood which they all have. 🙂

Remember all forms of communication are valid. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2014