Anna’s guest this week on ‘All things Autism’ was our charity Ambassador Paul Isaacs
Anna Kennedy’s guest this week on Women’s Radio Station was Paul Isaacs.
‘All things Autism” will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week. Please see www.womensradiostation.com
Paul shared: My name is Paul Isaacs and I have been an autism advocate for over 10 years, in that time I have seen many changes – some positive and accommodating others separatist and polarising.
Birth & Early Development
I was born in May 1986 and I was a month premature.
By my Mother’s observations I was quite and happy baby, however after the first six months onwards she began to notice differences in my development.
The initial worry was that I was deaf and/or blind this was round 1987, my motor coordination was delayed, I had oral apraxia for a time and didn’t gain functional speech between the ages 7/8 years old in 1994. Due to being meaning deaf and meaning blind.
Mainstream Education & Employment
I went through mainstream education from the 1989 to 2002 despite having obvious challenges.
The social and environmental factors were acute if not initially passive by people in their presentation, comments, body language and judgement.
It was subversive from the adults within my village and more pronounced and opaque towards me from 1991 onwards at age of five, this then transferred into my educational experiences and larger part of my employment history.
What I Reflected Upon
What I have learned from these experiences is lack of knowledge creates judgement, bigotry and separation, but what causes this?
The Mechanics of Bigotry?
I think it is due to one’s environment, personality factors (although not entirely indicative), core beliefs (what is considered “normal”, “right”, “wrong”) and what could be extension of someone’s ideal of morality.
Now what else I would say about this is false belief systems have to be procured and recycled.
It needs to be fed from generation to generation. This means that if these ideals aren’t challenged they cannot build fertile grounds of change.
Be Kind & Understand Why
This on a personal level this has brought me peace, balance and objectivity now I am not procuring bigotry or saying it is right, quite the opposite.
Sadly psycho-social and environmental underpinnings of ignorance have to be understood in order to give an opening for growth and internal change.
So in many ways the people whom projected their venom on to me. Did they have –
- Information processing challenges?
- Learning difficulties?
- Their own developmental challenges?
- Mental health conditions?
- Challenges round attachment?
- Personality disorders?
I thank these people for at the very least giving me a very clear framework of how not to treat other people.
Polly Samuel’s Fruit Salad Analogy
In the interview I talk about Donna William’s’ fruit salad analogy and how it has helped me grow not only in a professional capacity but personal one as well.
Over the years of being speaker, trainer and consultant I have used the foundation of her analogy and shared to masses so that people can be empowered (parents, carers, guardians teachers, mental health professionals and people on the spectrum) to get to the underpinnings of what is going on.
Could it be exposure anxiety? Could it be visual perceptual disorders? Could it be dyspraxia?
I am balanced that I don’t hold (and never will) all the answers and that in comes objectivity I do not speak for “all” on the spectrum that is impossible task.
I am but one person however what I can do is point out the multifaceted nature of “autistic fruit salads” and open up people’s perceptions.
In the end it isn’t about me, my ego, my status or my person it becomes about something greater other human beings.
Autism & Militancy
I am have noted the militancy within the autism community for many years, I am not affiliated with any groups nor doe I procure to mantra of “us and we” which suggests that all people on the spectrum think and act the same.
I do not procure to using the word “neurotypical” as a slur with bigoted and separatist undertones.
How can one fight bigotry if you are willing to “other” people? Also I choose not to use that word because in my opinion there is no such thing because there are “non-autistic” fruit salads too.
Thinking About Human Beings
All people go through an AUT-istic stage of development.
People with autism can have non-autistic moments and experiences and people without autism can have autistic moments and experiences.
Lets be kind enough to presume competence, intelligence and in understanding the persons autism you have do not have to define their entire being by it because what else would be left? We have enough man-made divisions as it is.
I ask you do we need any more?
Paul Isaacs 2021