Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Doing It Your Way – A Long Road to Autism & Self Care Skills

IMAG1230

Haha love this blog about autism and splinter skills and were one skill set can baffle and be up for contradiction in another.

Bathing, Temperature & No Sense of Time or Body 

It took me until sixteen onwards to understand the concept of bathing as a tool to wash your body in prior to this I would urinate in the bath, smear bubble bath liquid  on the tiles along with shaving foam.

A lot of times bathing the water would be too hot, too deep and would cause me to get light headed. I would sometimes lay in the bath for hours (until the water was cold), get lost dissociate, disconnect and focus on a fixed point and/or using the bath products.

The Art Of Toothbrushing

Tooth brushing I have yet to master, I have bouts of mild gingivitis, and a recent salivary gland infection which has “switched off” my left salivary gland. (I lose the patterns of how to brush my teeth for how long, the amount of pressure etc.) Dentists kindly remind me each time of how to do it.

The Delicacy of Shaving

Shaving my face I find odd too most of the hair density is below my jaw line, as such I am still so disconnected from body (so again losing patterns, strategies, movement and motion.) Leaving me with a blotchy and blood ridden skin at times.

Toilet Trouble 

Toileting is a lot about were my body is in relation to the toilet and pan, knowing the internal reasonings, feelings and sensations that go with it. This is secondary to shy bladder and bowel syndrome.

Mop Maintenance 

Hair brushing is a trial I have long thick curly hair and I have days and moments in which struggle  to obtain and use right brushes and the stratagems to untangle.

Learning, Context & Conclusion 

Context and meaning blindness, the inability to visually mentalise, visual perception, motion perception and body agnosias mean I rely on placement, position and associated contexts.

I suppose I did it my way.😉👍

Paul Isaacs 2020


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How Autism and Visual Perception affect Train Travel

Looking to provide the best possible experience for all passengers, GWR is working in collaboration for a second year with UK Autism charity Anna Kennedy Online increasing autism awareness to help its staff improve in meeting the needs of those travelling with autism.

For many with an Autism spectrum condition, some of the more commonly experienced issues is increased anxiety and sometimes overwhelming sensory processing information as well as the need for structure and reassurance.

There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with Autism – that’s more than 1 in every 100 people. GWR is committed to making rail accessible to all, and disability awareness forms part of that commitment. This awareness programme is improving the way GWR delivers customer service, emphasising the need for a tailored and personalised service for all customers, that meets their individual needs and wants.

Anna Kennedy OBE, Chairperson and founder of the charity shared: “ As charity we are proud to be able to help raise autism awareness for GWR staff. As a parent of two young men travelling by train has always been a difficult experience over the years due mainly to my youngest son who has significant sensory issues.

What can cause distress for him are whistles blowing, crowded platforms and noisy stations, doors banging can be a bit full-on and cause him anxiety due to a sensory overload. By sharing information with all staff this will hopefully help create a less stressful journey for him and many other families.”

Pete Dempsey, Operations Management Trainer at GWR, who is coordinating and helping to deliver the awareness sessions shared: “At GWR we strive to ensure all of our customers receive a great experience and part of delivering that aspiration is recognising that passengers have a wide variety of different needs, and different disabilities. We are pleased to be once again work with Anna Kennedy OBE and consultant Paul Isaac’s”.

Paul an Autism Ambassador and consultant to the charity has a diagnosis of autism and also has difficulties with visual perception. Paul and Anna met with Peter and shared how his difficulties impact on train travel.

Please see some of the issues talked about at the meeting which was then shared with GWR staff:

1. How does visual perception have an impact on your travel?

Visual perception in the simplest form is the ability to recognise, faces, objects, people, buildings etc 70 percent of information is visual so if you have perceptual challenges in these areas and a lot of the cues are visual (trains, maps, stations) then you can understand from a personal perspective how difficulties arise

2. How does visual perception have an impact on your surroundings? In train stations?

Without my tints all I can see is contrasts, colours and pieces of my surroundings with the inability to “join the dots” and create meaningful contextual relevance to what is being seen. I rely a lot on placement (things having continuity), voice recognition, my own patterns of movements in a round the space and area I am going.

3.How does face blindness have an impact on travel?

When I met people during a journey I struggle with processing faces so that means that I can search for someone quite readily regardless of how many times I have seen them. So what helps is people approaching me first as I usually wonder and/or go around the place or stand waiting, I try to remember their voices patterns, accents etc as way of gauging who they are, I look at people’s gait and patterns of movement

What also can help is the person saying who they are stating their full name and a prior situation which we have met before.

4. How does object blindness have an impact on travel?

If one is object blind its the inability to “juggle” multiple forms of visual information at once rendering the person not being able to see things in “wholes” only “pieces” this can mean that what I struggle with is firstly getting the relevance of what I am seeing, my conscious mind is being enveloped.

5. How does meaning blindness have an impact on travel?

Seeing without meaning is a difficult concept for people to understand because the sensory organs (eyes) work despite the processing of information being blocked in some way. If someone cannot “see” with associative “meaning” that means that the person needs to bring things to “life” through other means such as touch, texture and odour in my case give me an association and thus a memory. The problem I have is that I can get lost in colours, shimmer and shine so when moving around my environment I have to use my conscious to not get “lost” in the sense.

6. Does it have and impact on processing maps?

It does because I cannot transfer the map and internalise them into a meaningful process that relates to what am reading in the association with were I am going.

7. Does it have an impact on your energy levels?

Of course that has an overall impact on other areas of my functioning such as language processing so I sometimes have to rest between stops if I have enough time.

Peter Dempsey and AnnaKennedyonline are pleased that working in collaboration GWR 3500 staff are expanding and improving their knowledge on social requirements for those individuals diagnosed with an Autism spectrum condition

Paul Isaacs 2019


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Tinted Lenses, Visual Perceptual Disorders and Bridging The Gap Between “Non-Visual and Visual Worlds”

Visual Agnosia Image 2017

Note – This is from a personal perspective

Visual Perception & Autism

Some people on the autism spectrum have problems with filtering visual information which in turn distorts perception and what one is seeing, interpretation what someone takes out of what is being seen in terms of context and association and mentalisation that ability to internalise and integrate the visual memory in the form of a coherent, connected and retrievable memory.

What Tints Can Be Used For?

If people live in a world of being object blind and meaning blind and ultimately context blind this can have an impact on socialising, bounding, learning and having the ability to retrieve multiple forms of incoming visual information at once. Tints work for people in different ways (if they are needed at all) – for some its sensory integration disorder, for some it is a level of dyspraxia, information overload and coordination, for some it is building up a visual context because of simultagnosia and/or semantic agnosia, for some its processing faces, for some its recognising and building upon and reading social cues, for some it is getting a sense of “self and other”, for some it is visual learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and being able to read and write with coherence, for some its aphasia and/or verbal agnosia and gaining a better grasp of language.

Donna Williams 2011

Personal Perspectives

70% of incoming information is visual and we take that information in as light waves – essentially as color. Tinted lenses are filters. They filter out different light waves. This reduces the level of incoming information which leaves a person more processing time. This can have different effects in different people. For some it may just help them relax more or feel more comfortable looking at faces or making eye contact, help them handle places with bright lights or being outside. For some it will allow them to read comfortably and with meaning or improve depth perception. For others it may help them better process language and ultimately speak more fluently. For some it may help them see things as a whole and recognise objects, faces, places, and begin to read context and social cues or have a better processing of a simultaneous sense of self and other.

Donna Williams

Tinted lenses have helped me glue together a world which was largely bits and pieces that seemed shattered and unendurable, people shatter into fragments, objects floating with no clear base, foreground and background interchangeable, familiar voices with no face that seemed to match the warmth of familiarity. My language was also impacted to a certain degree with no internalisation of the visuals around me. Now I have tints they have made able to see faces with a level of coherence, looking at faces now I see a “whole” rather than “pieces” I am able to focus on their movements, body language and words, I can walk down the street and look at faces, places and people with a level with a level of coherence, I am able to better gauge “self and other” in conversations. I still have visual perceptual disorders however the tints have opened up and bridged my “non-visual to visual” world greatly.

Paul Isaacs

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, Visual Agnosias And Making Connections

Note this is from a personal perspective

As a child my Mum thought I was “deaf and blind” and this was to do with both “blindisms” and “deafisms” this is how it presented itself through behaviours that I did show.

Baby Pictures Deck Chair I Year Old

  • Staring through objects and people and appearing “blind”.
  • Getting stimulation and “lost” such as staring at water, lint and small fragments this would include finger flicking and hand flapping to “bind together” visual information and give coheranence.
  • Poking the side of my eyes to create colours also forcing my eyes shut at night to create internal colours and shapes.
  • Focusing on mouths rather than a whole face (which I couldn’t process as a cohesive whole).
  • Processing people in “pieces” focusing on one part of the body and neglecting everything else (this extends to the whole visual field).
  • Getting an external “reality” from kinaesthetic/tactile association such as touching, licking, sniffing, tapping rubbing my surroundings these are my “eyes”.
  • Connecting with people by “sculpting” their faces, rustling through their hair and thus creating association/bonding.
  • Using peripheral vision rather than using my central visual field sot “shut off” a part of visual processing.
  • Being lost meant that others had to find me.
  • Fluctuations and distortions in depth percpetion, foreground and background.
  • Filling in my time with repetition such as echolalia, videos and music that are unconscious thought and “being” as opposed to conscious thought and “doing”.
  • Finding people asking me directly to “do” difficult jolting my reality this is secondary to langauge processing disorders, aphasia, aqquistion of “self” and “other” which is also a result of exposure anxiety and problems with direct confrontation.
  • Finding objects, placement and context has to be formed on a personal level that means all things of significance and relevance must be on display.
  • When objects are not moving their reality is not acknowledged.

Context, Language and Perception

Having a level of visual agnosia, simultagnosia, prosopagnosia and semantic agnosia meant that association and context was and is at times is very difficult. As well as having a level of aphasia which meant the visual/language link took a long time to bridge and form.

Tinted Lenses

Tinted lenses have helped bring a level of visual binding, coherence and an ability to keep up with visual information at a much quicker rate, recognise non-verbal cues and sort out my placement while moving from place to place.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, Words, Aphasia, Body & Visual Agnosias

Sound Asleep

Note this is from a personal perspective

Aphasia and Words

Words in my mind felt ethereal, transient and distant the internal garbel of sounds, pitches, tones, hums and inflection as if my unconscious mind was trying so desperately to find the words, string the sentences anew to project and receive in “real-time” on some level I believe in my later years that is what I was trying to do. The jumble of a “salad of letters” in my mind could be found and then lost in equal measure.

Oral Apraxia and Word Finding and Formation

The functional element of my speech was delayed in both speech and language the aphasia was both receptive and expressive in nature with a high instance of anomia (word finding). The other element is oral apraxia which rendered me unable to form the words I would find leaving me disconnected and frustrated.

Receptive Aphasia, Body Agnosia & Associated Visual Agnosias

The receptive element of speech for example someone talking to me was the same external garbel as was in my mind a silent war between expresser and receiver trying to find clarity amongst the hidden mist of miscommunication.

The inability to perceive my own body meant a level of internal groundedness was not their and context was missed time and time again.

I relied on the touch, taste, smell, texture these feelings gave me a context to grab onto and create an association it is no surprise to me that my Mum through I was deaf and blind because that is exactly how I was behaving my language processing and sensory perceptual systems (visual agnosias) were so scrambled the credible and most importantly meaningful option was to “feel to think”, “feel to relate”, “feel to connect”, “feel to be”, “feel to extract” and the list goes on.

Creating My Own Language

Before interpretative language sets one could be creating their own language through association, things they have heard and seen on the television, jingles on the radio or other stands of information that bears relevance to an event and/or emotional meaningful response. In

my case this was form of communication which looked meaningLESS to the listener but was meaningFUL to me as the expresser.

Memory and Internal Mentalising

A memory with no associative images for words and no words for images meant my style of learning and integrating was not logical in nature nor literal this is secondary reason why my language and visual-verbal processing was delayed and slower, however as the years progressed I was building up a slow repertoire to words and my functional speech came around 7/8 years old this was expressively and developmentally in terms of content and formation of a 3 year old this new “voice” at times rendered me equally mute and frustrated.

Conclusion

Looking at the broader instance of different aspects that make up language processing difficulties in autism one needs to look at what is making the difficulties piece by piece, how that has an impact on the person and then work on positive and empowering and meaningful interventions.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism, Visual Distortion, Non-Visual Thinking & Image Break-up

There are many people on the spectrum such as Temple Grandin that have strong visual memories not only for fact retrieval but in her case she has used her visual way processing to help her with her career in animal slaughter.

Connecting Words , Synesthesia & Language

Some people on the autism have problems with not only processing visuals in “real-time” but also accessing it, contextualising it and having what I call “image retrieval” this means the person in question may not only have problems processing and internalising what is around them (visually) they may well have issues with image retrieval this means they may not connect the image with word because they have no idea what the image is so there is no were for the “word” to or they may have an issue once they have processed the image to give it the correct word that is associated with it. For me words have to be associated with a “feeling” not emotional specifically but how the object for example “felt” as I am typing this will remember the typewriter by the “texture” of the keys that my fingers are touching.

Meaning And Information “Blockages

This may sound and look odd for the onlooker and rightfully so – but is the person has so many sensory “blockages” touch in the context of “meaning” may well be one of the only ways in which they can access the “world” in way which is not only comforting (for some) but meaningful its relevance.

Semantics And Perception

This may well not be just restricted to touch and feeling it may well also include licking, sniffing, mouthing too to objects, people and the physically surroundings.

Visual break-up may look like the child is blind which in my case my Mum thought I was which would indicate I was showing behaviours of a blind person. (as well as a deaf person because of auditory processing).

Paul Isaacs 2016


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Autism & Visual Perceptional Disorders – Radio Interview “Reinventing The Illusion Of Vision” with Lawrence Bull

Overview

Last week I had the please of being interviewed by Lawrence Bull and radio presenter in  Australia of Think Digital Futures: Stories Of The Digital Age.

In this interview I cover from a personal perspective –

    • My developmental trajectory
    • My experiences of language development
    • My experiences of visual perceptual disorders
    • My experiences of not being a visual thinker
    • My experiences of tinted lenses
    • My views on autism and autism politics

Paul Isaacs 2016

 

 


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Seeing A Part of the Rainbow – Recognising Red – Colour Agnosia & Autism

Picture in Resturant Oxford 2013OVERVIEW

DEVELOPMENTAL COLOUR AGNOSIA – Left Hemisphere of the Brain

Don’t get me wrong I see all colours as different from one another I have a hard time “naming them in context” for example at the traffic lights, naming  the colour piece of clothing etc. (I don’t “see” the object of reference in my head nor it’s colour as I have no visual memory).

But for some reason I can cognitively remember the colour red. So remember some people on the spectrum may have this as part of their profile/”Fruit Salad”.

 

Paul Isaacs 2014