Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside


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Autism, Meaning Blindness and The Phantom Rainbow Flask

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Note This was from a personal perspective

There are times when I even question my own perception visual and/or otherwise and got the the point wonder of how I cam to this conclusion.

Noticing An Object With No Context? 

I was presenting a workshop around a week ago and in the room something every so often was catching my eye and intriguing me, its was shiny and rainbow coloured in presentation however I ignored for a while.

Interpretive Meaning vs. Non-Interpretive Experience? 

I was then talking about experiences of being object blind (simultagnosia) and meaning blind (semantic agnosia) and turned the the object of intrigue and held it and proclaimed and questioned  “what is this?” in about 5 seconds or more the audience explained that it was a hip flask!

It just goes to show that even on a residual level my visual perceptual challenges take me by surprise this were I made an effort to remember the object by touching the its smooth and bobbled surface.

Paul Isaacs 2019

 


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Autism, Mentalising & Gestalt Perception

Note this is from person perspective

Gestalt perception can account for both strengths and weaknesses of autistic perception. On the one hand, they seem to perceive more accurate information and a greater amount of it. On the other hand, this amount of unselected information cannot be processed simultaneously and may lead to information overload. Autistic people may experience gestalt perception in any sensory modality.

Olga Bogdashina 2014

About a month ago I was a friend of mine who is a speech and language therapist who works with people with autism, brain injuries (associated with language processing) other other neurological conditions.

Visual Perception & Memory

She asked me about how I mentalise the world around despite having challenges with visual-verbal connections and the ability to “marry” words and images together. This made me think about how I piece my “world” together and what tools I have used to do so. So she suggested about a simple memory comparison which was to see in the mind’s eye a generic church figure which she could.

Sensory Associative Memory

I said that when I think of a church I think of the feel and texture of the grass, the feel of the aged stone walls, the loud squeak of the wooden door, the musky smell of the aged church. She said can you bring all the those senses (experiences) together. I said I cannot as I think of them one sense at a time.

There appear to be multiple pathophysiological mechanisms that result in apperceptive visual agnosia. These may be related to the misperception of shapes due to defects in representing the elementary properties of curvature, surface and volume149 or failure to integrate multiple elements into a perceptual whole.150 Patients with severe apperceptive agnosia usually have extensive and diffuse occipital lesions and tend to have residual field defects.151

D. Tranel, A.R. Damasio, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001

Conclusion

It’s clear that I have documented about having faceblindness, object blindness and meaning blindness which of course leads to “blindisms” in visual surroundings in which one has “context blindness” in which objects, faces and places lose their significance and visual-verbal meaning.

However it is clear from this conversation that the way in which I store memories through fragmented pieces of information bring about and evoke an emotional connection with what I am talking about.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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So What is Simultagnosia & Semantic Agnosia? In The Context Of Autism?

Image result for occipital lobes and simultagnosia

Note: This is from a personal perspective

Simultagnosia is a condition that effects the occiptal lobes of the brain this is where visual perception and processing is connected, it also can have an impact on visual association, language perception/processing and overall navigation of the visual world around you.

“Blindisms” 

For me it meant not being able to access the visual world with coherence rendering me unable to access with my “eyes”and having to build up the visual world in a “non-visual” way such as.

  • Smelling
  • Touching 
  • Sculpting
  • Licking
  • Tapping
  • Moving

This started early in my development with my Mum’s observations thinking I was both deaf and blind (which is a common observation with people with visual agnosias) I was imprinting through EXTERNAL stimulus to build up a representation and connecting through other sensory modulations to make sense of the experience around me.

“Mapping” A System

As I have got older and with more awareness of the condition I have system in place where I do not hide anything from my view and placement of objects are important in relation to their context.

Context & Relevance

I still have a level of context blindness which means that things that are not being used “lose there relevance” (what they are, their use and function in relation to the environment) I may mistake objects for other things entirely and/or be caught up in how they make me feel rather than what they are.

Paul Isaacs 2019


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Egotisms vs. “Developemtnal Egocentrisms” – Understanding “Other Through Self” In Autism

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Note this is from a personal perspective

To be a egotist one must have a self-inflated sense of “self” (the ego) in which everything has to be about them, for them and with them you could construed this a narcissism and unhealthy relationship with ego and the ability to get “other” as necessary part of life. This doesn’t mean that people with autism cannot be egotists by the way.

Oxford Living Definition

1.1 Centred in or arising from a person’s own individual existence or perspective.

‘Egocentric spatial perception’

“Developmental” Egocentrism

This on the “surface” in its multiple forms see like the “same” if a  person taps on the surface this could be as so but what is the person is trying (unconsciously in some cases) to understand other?

Faceblindness and Mirrors

It took me years up to the age of 16 years to realise that the “friend” that followed me into the bathroom and public toilets was “me” I sought a lot of comfort from “him” as I stared into the mirror I wasn’t aware that it was “self” so I played with the “friend” pulling faces, gestures, expression contorting my features etc. Transfixed I would struggled to perceive that was in the mirror was behind “me” leaning the toward the mirror I would try to pick things out of it not understanding the concept of “mirror” is reflection one’s own physical form.

Meaning Deafness and Echolalia

I would have contradictory experience with being profoundly meaning deaf all around me was fragmented people making “soundscapes” to one another this would both intrigue, annoy and frightening me depending on the context, the people and the situation. Listening to jingles, TV shows and VHS’ was indirectly and opening for “other” I could follow the patterns of the program endlessly as they were in the end a linear form of repetition of sounds, colours and movements.

Visual perception and Making Connections

Being both meaning blind and object blind meant my visual world was redundant and I was only using up to 30 percent of information (taking into account visual perception is around 70 percent of information). I would “live” in a system of sensing (before typical interpretations and applied meaning) for connected experiences they had to come from other senses, touch, taste, smell and movement gave “life” to my physical environment. I would connect with “people” in a fragmented manner smell, touch, patterns of movement etc.

Using One’s Own “System”

I have no doubt in  reflection on my experiences that I have made progression in many areas however the point I am trying to make is the context of autism is that “developmental egocentric systems” in my case were used as “bridge” unconsciously or otherwise understand “other”. The internal struggle was the blockages developmentally and neurologically to extract my own though systems, interpretive systems and inner/outer dialogue of coherence at time where I could not get a shared “sense of social”.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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There Are Two Types of “Social Emotional Agnosia” in Autism

abstract background close up construction

 

“Typical” Social Emotional Agnosia

Social emotional agnosia is the inability to see and/or perceive body language, facial expression and tone of voice, this mean that the person is only “seeing” factual information this rides along side an secondary factors such as a language processing disorder, alexithymia, mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders for example.

This tends to be found in people with a diagnosis of Asperger’ syndrome and is related the right hemisphere for the brain up to 30% also have faceblindness and sensory hypersensitivities.

“Perceptual” Social Emotional Agnosia

If we think of visual information up to 70% of is visual so what if a person simultagnosia? The inability to perceive more than one thing in their visual field rendering the ability to take in “social” information difficult, perceiving faces, objects and surroundings as “pieces”. What if the person has a receptive aphasia, auditory verbal agnosia and cannot retain information secondary to oral apraxia, verbal agnosias, exposure anxiety , mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders for example.

This tends to be found in people with a diagnosis of Autism and is related to the left hemisphere of the brain and the occiptal lobes and sensory perceptual disorders.

Image result for shoes paired Image result for shoes paired

You can have two pairs of shoes that “look” the same but once you look inside them you realise they are different in terms of “mechanics” that would mean differing styles of learning, communication and mentalising will come into play.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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The Journey To Functional Language

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Note this is from a personal percpetive

There is a percentage of people on the autism spectrum who overcome a level of severe language processing disorder. I have been diagnosed with autism in 2010 at the age of 24. My trajectory was a wobbly one part of my autism was brain damage at birth (left hemisphere) which meant receptive and expressive language was impaired this was a RECEPTIVE & EXRPRESSIVE APHASIA, I was sleepy baby and my Mum notices differences at about 6 months old. My language impaction was a mixture of neurological and in early infancy environmental.

I had speech and language DELAYS as part of my language journey this included missing MILESTONES, and then I had TRAUMA which was do with having adenoidectomy and circumcision. I had ORAL APRAXIA which meant that words at times expressively where a jumbled mess. I was echolalic, echopraxia and echomimic TV shows; VHS you name was stored phrases, movements and sequences. I had roughly between 80- 90% meaning deafness up till the age of 7/8 years old. When a level of functional speech which “my own” it felt stilted, “alien” and non-fluent and garnered from my perspective a lot of unwanted attention so I went into bouts of SELECTIVE MUTISM through my late infancy. Visual perception had an impact of PICTURE/WORD association meaning I was largely kinaesthetic due to by object and meaning blind – SIMULTAGNOSIA and SEMANTIC AGNOSIA.

Now as an adult I would say I am residual being about 30-40 % meaning deaf, tinted lenses have helped my make simple but dramatic visual associative contexts although I still struggle to know the difference between a toaster and a bread bin! 😉 I someone speaks to quickly, background noise, doesn’t use gesture and/or objects of reference I may well pick up the words but not glue the “meaning” to them.

I have functional speech but it can still tumble and become laboured due to fatigue and residual aspects of ORAL APRAXIA and my social emotional world is tapped into INTROSPECTIVELY through art and poetry. I still live in a system of SENSING the unknown “KNOWNINGNESS” which means that I perceive far more than I know until it is “out there” on paper form then feed it back to myself and understand what is going on! My mind is like confetti but I have overcome many obstacles due to autism, developmental delay, language processing and visual perception.

Paul Isaacs 2018


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Autism, Semantic Agnosia & “The Eyes That Don’t See”

Shorts

The Eyes Are Deceptive?

Think about it a person who eye’s are organically “normal” and the ability “see” from an psychical perspective is there but the brain is not able to process visual information that is coherent and meaningful.

Sensory Explorer 2

Reality vs. Context? The Hidden Link

As a child association was created through my body this could be through objects and or people. Touch gave me a reality and context that my eyes could not the contours of what touched beamed into my inner world as a way of saying “hello” to the outside from inside and secret bridge that was being made every time.

Quinn and I

Movement, Mapping and Tactile Association

I was eager to be bare foot and “mapped” out my surroundings, movements, twists and turns around the “dead space” that enveloped in was both my enemy and my friend all at once. Touching, licking, sniffing, tapping and rubbing gave “life” to everything around me on an unconscious level of was working out world.

• This is the most studied type: easier to detect.
• Stimuli misrecognized visually, can be recognized:
– through tactile manipulation
– from verbal description
– based on its characteristic sound or noise
object
early visual processing
image viewer-dependent
object-centered (3D)
(2 and 1/2 D)
(
episodic structural description
)
structural description system
semantic system
output phonological lexicon
object naming
AGNOSIAS & SEMANTIC DEFICITS Raffaella Ida Rumiati, Cognitive Neuroscience Sector Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati Trieste, Italy
A Blindism

One could call this a “blindism” a state in which visual perception is not giving the associative signals and/or visual association of what an object “is” regardless of where you find it, what angle you see and so forth. This could lead problems with context and a distortion of memory.

Conclusion

As an adult I still rely more on my movements that what I am “seeing” this means that can still get lost in my surroundings but with my tinted lenses this is able to keep my conscious mind on track with meaning.

Paul Isaacs 2017