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 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